Chocolate Granita

June  8, 2020
9 Ratings
Photo by Anna Billingskog
  • Prep time 4 hours
  • Cook time 5 minutes
  • Makes 5 cups granita (4 to 5 servings)
Author Notes

Granita is as laid-back as frozen dessert gets. No special equipment—and, honestly, no special technique—required. A large, shallow dish and fork are all you need.

Granitas often are based on a summery fruit puree or juice, like strawberry, watermelon, peaches, and on. But other slurpy situations are just as worth granita-ing. Think: coffee, tea, and, in this case, hot cocoa.

If you have cocoa powder, granulated sugar, water, and salt—we’re ready to rumble.

As David Lebovitz’s Genius Chocolate Sorbet taught me, a chocolate frozen dessert doesn’t need cream or milk. In fact, its chocolatey flavor is often more confident without such distractions, like a shot of espresso that shines all the brighter without any foam.

As noted in the ingredient list, the topping is a choose-your-own adventure. Or you can skip it altogether. I like something rich and creamy, to contrast the sultry chocolate, like a drizzle of sweetened condensed milk from the pantry or a dollop of that Greek yogurt about to go bad in the fridge. Chocolate gets along with everyone, so it’s hard to go wrong here.

This is one of our Big Little Recipes, our weekly column all about dishes with big flavor and little ingredient lists. Do you know (and love) a recipe that’s low in ask, high in reward? Let us know in the comments.Emma Laperruque

What You'll Need
  • 3/4 cup (63 grams) cocoa powder
  • 2/3 cup (132 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Your pick of sweetened condensed milk, whipped cream, Greek yogurt, crème fraîche, or extra-virgin olive oil, for topping (or skip altogether)
  1. Heat 2 cups of water on the stove until it’s just warm, then whisk in the cocoa powder, sugar, and salt until everything has dissolved. Let cool to room temperature, then pour into an 8x8-inch baking pan. Freeze for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the perimeter is starting to freeze. Remove the pan from the freezer and use a fork to scrape the frozen edges toward the center and shuffle everything around. Freeze for another 30 minutes, then scrape and shuffle with the fork again. Repeat this—mixing every 30 minutes—until the granita is totally frozen and snowy in texture (this will take anywhere from 2 to 3 hours total, depending on your freezer). At this point, you can eat right away, or transfer to airtight containers and store in the freezer for up to a couple weeks.
  2. When you’re ready to dig in, spoon some granita into a dish and top with whatever rich ingredient you have around—sweetened condensed milk, whipped cream, Greek yogurt, crème fraîche, or even a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil are all wonderful. A pinch of flaky salt on top is nice, too.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Kazumi J.
    Kazumi J.
  • Jeremy Warren
    Jeremy Warren
  • Emma Laperruque
    Emma Laperruque
  • Jennifer W
    Jennifer W
Emma was the food editor at Food52. She created the award-winning column, Big Little Recipes, and turned it into a cookbook in 2021. These days, she's a senior editor at Bon Appétit, leading digital cooking coverage. Say hello on Instagram at @emmalaperruque.

20 Reviews

Jennifer W. August 17, 2022
I loved it! Lots of bang for your buck with so little time and effort! I upped the salt a bit after tasting prior to freezing, and its incredibly satisfying paired with whipped cream. My only question would be if you have any suggestions for creating a nice even slush texture? My granita sort of stayed in clumps that wouldnt break up, even scraping every 30 minutes.
Kazumi J. December 27, 2021
I have tried this recipe yesterday, because it looked easy to do. Though easy, the feedback from my family is really GOOD!!!. The recipe is good on its own; no need for adjustment. The sweetness, bitterness and creaminess from the cocoa powder are really balance. I went with the classic paring for failed-safe: whipping cream and it's really nice. The only downside is that it melted really quickly! Guess that because I live in topical area. LOL :)
Brenda E. September 6, 2020
Most elegant dessert ever! Perfect balance of sweetness, creaminess, slushiness, a touch of sea-saltiness!
rlsalvati July 19, 2020
So good! I've been making this every week since it was posted. I've tried it with whipped cream (yum) and with sweetened condensed milk (one of my favorite pantry items). I've added a bit of vanilla a couple times. Now that I've read the other reviews my next add-in will be espresso.
Emma L. July 19, 2020
So happy to hear that, rlsalvati! Now that summer is in full swing, I'm on a frozen dessert kick too :)
Tatiana P. July 11, 2020
This recipe is perfect. Made as is and served with barely sweetened whipped cream. My husband and I devoured it all.
Emma L. July 19, 2020
Thanks so much, Tatiana!
Oaklandpat July 6, 2020
Emma: What's your favorite cocoa powder for this recipe?
Emma L. July 6, 2020
No preference! Whatever you have will work great (just make sure it's unsweetened).
Puma53 July 5, 2020
I made it with creme de mint whipped cream.......can we say yummy. Just add peppermint extract to whipped cream and a touch of green food coloring,....
Emma L. July 6, 2020
So glad you enjoyed!
Stephanie June 19, 2020
Crazy good - particularly with an added shot of espresso. Super simply and perfect for summer!
Emma L. June 21, 2020
Thank you, Stephanie!
Stephanie June 19, 2020
Crazy good, particularly with an added shot of espresso - so perfect and simple for summer!
Emma L. July 6, 2020
Yes please to a shot of espresso!
rkc1 June 11, 2020
I made this with a teaspoon of instant coffee to boost the flavor and 2 tablespoons of Kahlua to keep it from freezing too hard. Was so rich and fudgy...and with no dairy! A new regular in my freezer (I live in the tropics, so frozen treats are a must!) Thanks for the recipe!
Jeremy W. June 10, 2020
This was SO good. So simple and delicious. My family LOVED it. I topped them with some really nice olive oil and flaky salt. I will definitely be making this again. It would probably be good with a shot of espresso or some instant coffee as well.
Emma L. June 21, 2020
Thanks, Jeremy!
Sharkn01 June 10, 2020
This was delicious and easy. Started it last minute as I started dinner. Served it to the grownups and gave kids mint chocolate chip ice cream cones. My 6 year old made me exchange deserts with her she liked it so much and told me to double the recipe next time
Emma L. June 10, 2020
So happy to hear that, thank you!