20 June 2011

Espresso Yourself

Happy Summer Solstice! This is the longest day of the year, when the sun is at its peak. Today is a day to relax outdoors, bask in the sun, and generally enjoy life. And life, I think, is best enjoyed with sweet treats. This espresso granita is easy to make and perfect for a hot, sunny day. It might even make you forget that the days are getting shorter from here on out...

(Click photos to enlarge)

You don't need much to make this:

Bless the person who invented instant espresso:

A delicious brew...

...+ a scoop of sugar:

Cooling the sweetened coffee in an ice bath. You can't tell because they melted too quickly but my ice "cubes" are actually the faces of Sesame Street monsters!

The cooled mixture is poured into a glass pan. It's unexpectedly pretty:

The trick to granita is to mix and scrape the ice every half hour or so to keep the ice crystals nice and small (otherwise you'd have a pan of solid ice). This is what it looks like after 45 minutes in the freezer:

After 1 1/4 hours:

After 1 3/4 hours:

After 2 1/4 hours:

After 2 3/4 hours:

At 3 1/4 hours it's done!

It looks icy but the texture is just right:

Starting to whip the cream:

Whipped cream, ready to go:

Delicious! (I'm just sad the pretty turquoise colour of the bowl didn't come out in the photos.)

Espresso Granita

Serves 4

[My notes/changes in brackets]
  • 1/2 cup finely ground espresso [or 2 cups brewed espresso. Because I used instant I ended up using 6 tbs of instant espresso mixed in 2 cups boiling water.]
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream
  • [I happened to have chocolate-covered coffee beans on hand so I decided to use them as a garnish]
Reserving 1 teaspoon ground espresso for garnish [I skipped this and just used the chocolate-covered beans], brew 2 cups of espresso. Add sugar to the hot espresso, and stir to dissolve.

Prepare an ice bath. Place espresso mixture in a heat-proof glass bowl, and set in the ice bath, stirring until mixture becomes very cold.

Transfer espresso mixture to a 9-by-13-inch Pyrex baking dish [a heavy glass dish is fine--it doesn't need to be Pyrex], and place in freezer. Let stand until ice crystals start to form around the edges, about 45 minutes. Remove dish from freezer. Using the tines of a fork, stir the ice crystals into the center. Return dish to freezer. Stir the ice crystals every 30 minutes until all the liquid has frozen into soft, fine crystals, about 2 hours.

Place whipping cream in a chilled bowl, and whip until soft peaks form. Divide granita among four glasses or serving bowls. Top each with a dollop of whipped cream, and sprinkle remaining teaspoon ground espresso over tops [or top with a few chocolate-covered espresso beans]. Serve immediately.

Original Recipe here.

My Verdict

Easy peasy. Even though you have to keep an eye on it for a few hours you can do other things while it sits in the freezer. Just make sure you remember to check in every 1/2 hour to stir the ice. As for the flavour, this is a perfect dessert for anyone who loves sweet iced coffee (represent!) It's also a hit with those who generally like coffee and/or icy treats. Obviously coffee haters should not apply. A word to the wise: don't skip the whipped cream! The coffee flavour is overwhelming without it. Also, don't be tempted to sweeten the whipped cream; the granita is sweet enough on its own, although I think it would be great with cookies on the side. I'll definitely be making this again.

Want to see what else I've made for my 2011 baking project?

January: Double-Chocolate Brownies
February: Angel Food Cake with Raspberry Sauce
March: Chewy Chocolate-Gingerbread Cookies
April: Raspberry-Swirl Cheesecake
June: Cake Doughnuts

Photos by Domicile

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