Amidst a flurry of seasonal sweets, I’d like to showcase a dessert that is decidedly a-seasonal. The reason is simple: in some parts of the world the weather does not coincide with traditional seasons. No, I’m not talking about the Southern Hemisphere; I’m talking about San Francisco.
Here in this “cool, grey city of love,” the summers are foggy and windy. Autumn is sunny, and we can break 90°F in October. Let’s not forget the five weeks of sunshine in January that preceded three months of torrential rain. I’m not complaining (okay, maybe a little). I’m just saying the weather here is a little odd. Consequently, one must be prepared with a foolproof ice-cold dessert for whenever the sun peeks through, whether it’s September or February. I think this Kahula Espresso Granita with Whipped Cream fits the bill perfectly.
A coffee lover’s dessert, this granita has more than one alter-ego: “deconstructed Frappuchino” or “a grown-up’s sno-cone” convey the idea. Just imagine with me for a moment—flakes of frozen coffee spiked with Kahlua, cushioned by a spoonful of whipped cream. Creamy and icy, and you don’t even need an ice-cream maker.
For those currently basking in the sun, enjoy this dessert as summer draws to a close and the sunlight softens into autumn’s glow. For my SF neighbors, don’t worry: this dessert does not discriminate seasons. Tuck this recipe away for a sunny day whenever seasonal inspiration is scarce.
I use decaf espresso to eliminate an evening caffeine buzz. I also omit the sugar in the whipped cream because the granita itself is just sweet enough. If you omit the Kahlua, increase the sugar in the granita to ½ cup to maintain the right sugar content for optimal freezing.
2 cups cool brewed espresso or strong coffee
1/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons Kahlua or other coffee liqueur
¼ teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
¼ teaspoon finely grated orange zest
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons sugar, optional
Make the Kahlua Espresso Granita with Whipped Cream
Stir together espresso, 1/3 cup sugar, Kahlua and zest. Refrigerate at least an hour to chill well. Pour into a metal or plastic pan or bowl and place in the freezer. When ice crystals being to form around the edge (after about 30 minutes), stir well every 15 minutes until completely frozen (another 30-45 minutes). Fluff crystals lightly with a fork and leave in the freezer to dry for about an hour before serving.
In a cold bowl with cold beaters, whip cream to firm peaks. Whisk in 2 tablespoons sugar, if using. Spoon granita into sherbet glasses, top with a generous dollop of whipped cream and serve immediately. The granita is best served the day it is made.
Recipe from Cookwise by Shirley Corriher (p 449).