Summers not over yet, so there’s still plenty of time to enjoy an Italian granita di caffe’. A semi-frozen dessert made with sweetened espresso. Originally from Sicily, a granita (granita siciliana) is made from sugar, water and flavorings, freezing the ingredients while mixing them. In Italy, regional variations in preparation result in a coarse or smooth texture similar to a sorbet.
The method of freezing is critical to the outcome. You can make a granita in a shallow container and as a film freezes on top of the container, break it up and stir it with a fork every 20 minutes or so. This will create a granita with the characteristic grainy texture. A smoother texture comes from using a gelato machine but you don’t have to have a gelato machine to make a smooth granita. All you really need is some version of a Donvier, a machine that breaks up the ice crystals and makes the texture lighter. A Donvier has a metal container that must be frozen at least 7 hours before you want to use it. The cylinder acts as a cold collector and allows you to freeze mixtures in just 12 minutes, hand cranking it every once in a while. The result will be more like a sorbet but as there is no electricity driving the mixing you can control the texture to achieve the desired constancy.
In Italy, coffee granita is served in tall glasses and topped with whipped cream. Unlike gelato or ice cream; there is no butterfat in a granita so it can be a guiltless summertime pleasure to enjoy. Divertiti!