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Author Notes: Granita is the most humble Italian frozen dessert. Unlike gelato, it is made with no cream. Different from sorbetto, which is smooth and soft, granita has a rustic, granular texture as a result of larger, coarser ice crystals. It is an unpretentious dessert that originates in Sicily, where locals have it for breakfast on hot summer days. http://wp.me/1z3bv —DueSpaghetti
For coffee granita
- 2 cups strong, dense espresso
- Sugar syrup, to taste
For cherry granita
- 1 pound fresh cherries, with pits
- Sugar syrup to taste
- For the Sugar Syrup: Mix equal parts sugar and water in a sauce pan. We made the syrup with 2 cups sugar and 2 cups of water, and had more than we needed for both of the granite. Cook the liquid over medium high heat until it comes to a boil. Reduce heat, simmer for 5 minutes, and then remove from heat and allow it to cool completely.
- For the Coffee Granita: Prepare 2 cups of strong, dense espresso and pour it into a pan that can go into the freezer. As we mentioned above, we used a bread pan. Add sugar syrup gradually until your mixture reaches the sweetness you prefer.
- For the Cherry Granita: Wash the cherries, and remove their pits and stems. Chop the cherries finely in a food processor, and place them into a pan. Mix sugar syrup into the cherries to taste. If you’d like, you can add a few teaspoons of almond extract, or a few tablespoons liquor such as Cointreau, or both.
- Freezing the Granita: Place the pans of granita into the freezer uncovered. Check on your granita every half-hour or hour, depending on the depth of the pan you used. As it freezes, ice crystals will form around the edges of the pan. Each time you check on the granita, stir the mixture, breaking up the icy edges. Gradually, your granita will become thicker and slushier. When it reaches a soft, solid consistency, it is ready. This may take a few hours, again depending on the depth of your pan. As long as you have been stirring periodically, you can allow the mixture to freeze solid. Before serving, allow it to thaw for about 30 minutes, stirring from time to time until the granita reaches the correct consistency. You may lose some of the icy, crystalline texture, but if you are entertaining this is a more reliable method from a timing standpoint. Serve with whipped cream and dessert spoons.