Why Granita Is the Easiest Summer Recipe

The shove-it-in-your-freezer dessert is the ultimate summer quencher.

Rome in the summer is so unrelenting even the Italians take off time in August to escape the heat. They retreat to Croatian beaches or anywhere there’s water, really, during the Italian holiday Ferragosto.

When in Rome, though, you can stop by seasonal awning-adorned kiosks boasting cups of refreshing lemoncocco, which is exactly as it sounds: freshly squeezed lemon melded with creamy coconut milk. The next best summer quencher, in my humble opinion, is the espresso granita.

I had my first-ever Italian espresso granita at Tazza d’Oro, a historic cafe located on the bustling piazza near the Pantheon. The line was long. It was hot. I needed a pick-me-up, stat. The cup may be small but the caffeine was mighty; the top was heaped with a glorious mound of fresh cream.

Even though you’re not in Rome, you can still do as the Romans do: devour icy treats. (I’ll note for the Italophiles ready to come at me: Yes, granita originates in Sicily, where they pile smooth, often almond granita into brioche and eat it for breakfast.) No one’s stopping you from making a raspberry granita or even going boozy with it and turning the Aperol Spritz into a cold snack. For me, espresso granita is the move. I need that buzz. And, hey, you can add vodka and coffee liqueur to make this an espresso martini granita for a buzzy-boozy ride.

Granita, simply put, is shaved ice, and all it requires to make it is a dish, a freezer, and a fork.

Espresso Granita

• 4 cups warm espresso, or very strongly brewed coffee
• 1 ½ cups sugar
• 2 cups heavy whipping cream

1. I make my espresso via a stovetop espresso maker, like the MokaPot, but you can use whatever method is most available to you. You can make a strongly brewed dark roast coffee instead.
2. Mix the warm, not-too-hot espresso with sugar until sugar is dissolved.
3. To freeze, pour mixture into a dish at least two inches deep (something with a two-quart capacity is best, about 8-x-12 inches). Place in the freeze for an hour.
4. As you notice the edges beginning to harden, take a fork to break up the frozen pieces and stir the mixture. Rack frozen exterior bites in toward the center. Return to freezer. Check mixture every 30 minutes, stirring each time. Break any big chunks into smaller pieces until fine crystals form throughout the dish.
5. Make your whipped cream topping. Put heavy cream into a bowl and with a hand-mixer, or a whisk, whisk until medium peaks form.
6. Once you’ve got your granita texture achieved, pile it into a cup and top with fresh whipped cream.

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Rosin Saez is the senior editor of Food & Drink at Thrillist.