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
5 cups granita (4 to 5 servings)
(63 grams) cocoa powder
(132 grams) granulated sugar
Your pick of sweetened condensed milk, whipped cream, Greek yogurt, crème fraîche, or extra-virgin olive oil, for topping (or skip altogether)
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.
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.
Emma is the food editor at Food52. Before this, she worked a lot of odd jobs, all at the same time. Think: stir-frying noodles "on the fly," baking dozens of pastries at 3 a.m., reviewing restaurants, and writing articles about everything from how to use leftover mashed potatoes to the history of pies in North Carolina. Now she lives in Maplewood, New Jersey with her husband and their cat, Butter. Stay tuned every Tuesday for Emma's cooking column, Big Little Recipes, all about big flavor and little ingredient lists. And see what she's up to on Instagram at @emmalaperruque.