Bon Appétit (April 2010)
We love making granitas. Essentially just shaved, flavored ice -- like Sno-Cones for adults! -- they're one of our favorite warm-weather desserts. They're light, tasty and refreshing.
But here's the big secret about a granita: It's hands-down the simplest dessert you can make. Seriously, if you can make a tray of ice, you can make a granita.
Making them may be child's play, but this Coffee Granita with Cardamom Whipped Cream is definitely an upscale, sophisticated take on this tasty dessert.
How easy is it to make a granita? In this case, you make some espresso on the stove. Freeze it. Then scrape it with a fork.
Seriously, what's simpler than that? (Actually, the first time we ever made a granita, the recipe literally consisted of pouring grapefruit juice into a pan, freezing it, and scraping it with a fork. But serve it in Champagne glasses, with a little sprig of mint, and your guests will be wowed!)
The espresso ice is great -- dark and subtly sweet, with a nice hint of vanilla. But the cardamom whipped cream really makes this dessert special. The cardamom is an unexpected -- but perfect! -- pairing with the espresso, and it gives the granita an exotic, earthy sort of twist. (Actually, we're realizing that it's very difficult to describe the flavor of cardamom. We love it, and it lends a fantastic flavor to everything from turnips to peaches and ice cream. But it's such a unique taste, we don't quite know how to put it in words.)
Anyway, if you're looking for a dessert that's light, delicious, super impressive and embarrassingly easy to make, then this is the dessert for you. (Just don't tell your guests how easy it is!)
PREP: 15 minutes
TOTAL: 3 hours 15 minutes
• 2 cups water, divided
• 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
• 1 1/2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
• 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 3/4 cup chilled heavy whipping cream
• 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
Bring 1/2 cup water and 1/2 cup sugar just to simmer in heavy small saucepan over medium heat, stirring mixture constantly until sugar dissolves. Stir in instant espresso powder and vanilla extract. Remove saucepan from heat; stir in remaining 1 1/2 cups water. Pour into 9x9x2-inch metal baking pan. Freeze mixture 1 hour; stir, mashing any frozen parts with back of fork. Cover and freeze mixture until firm, at least 1 to 2 hours longer and up to 1 day. Using fork, scrape granita, forming icy flakes. Return granita to freezer.
Beat cream, cardamom, and remaining 1 tablespoon sugar in large bowl until peaks form. Divide granita among bowls or glasses. Top granita with whipped cream.