Coffee granita

02Jul10

The weather is perfect for making coffee granita (granita di caffe). It is so hot, what could be better than coming home and getting this ice cold granita, made of strong espresso and then lots of cold whipped cream?
I just love it in summer. It is especially good after a long meal of salads or barbecue. You don’t need to get up to make coffee, but just take a plunge in the freezer to serve it straight away.

Making granita does take some patience, but one batch will go a long way. You will need a stretch of time at home close to the freezer, since you have to use a fork to loosen up the ice crystals every 20 minutes or so. This might be during an evening you are home anyway, watching football matches for example.

The coffee is made with the cold-drip method (see Oliver Schwaner-Albright’s article in NYT), so you don’t need to brew the coffee. Just mix coffee with water and let the flavors come out. Your house will have a lovely coffee smell while it is steeping.

Here’s what you need:
for the coffee extract:
250 grams of espresso coffee, ground
8 cups of cold water

for the syrup (about 2 cups):
1 cup of white sugar (or more)
1 cup of water (adapt accordingly)

Start the evening before (or in the morning) by putting the espresso coffee in a large bowl. Then add 2 cups of cold water, stir slightly to combine, then add the other 6 cups. Let this mixture sit for 12 hours (or more) at room temperature. Do not stir or disturb, it will be fine.

Then pick a time you want to make your granita. I started in the early evening (and I steeped the coffee the night before). When you start making the coffee granita at about 5 PM, it will be finished by 11 at night.

Make a syrup of 1 cup sugar with 1 cup of water in a small saucepan until it all dissolves. You can use more (up to 1 cup more) if you want your coffee granita to be sweeter later on. Let cool.

Slowly pour your coffee mixture through a very fine sieve to get rid of all the coffee grounds. Do this again so you will end up with a clean coffee. Then mix with the syrup mixture and pour into a bowl fit for the freezer. Let sit in the freezer for 2 – 3 hours. I don’t know about your freezer, but in my freezer basically nothing happened until 3 hours at least.
When the mixture starts to freeze up, use a fork to break the ice particles and do this again, every 30 or 20 minutes. Set a timer, go to the freezer with your fork, and loosen up the ice particles.

The texture will change over time. From a darker coffee mixture it will turn more crumbly and lighter in color, almost like demarara sugar. When the texture of the granita (‘grains’) is like crumbs, your coffee granita is ready. You don’t need to stir again, just leave it.

Leave it in the freezer with a lid on the box, and then every time you feel like having a cup, scoop it out. Serve with lots of ice cold whipped cream… enjoy!

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