Techniques

Espresso Granita

granitaHere is another excerpt from my Navy trip to Sicily.  Those folks really know ho to host a visitor!  I ate an obscene amount of good food, and saw some amazingly cool shit.  My suitcase stank from all the foods I smuggled back home, but some I could not transport. One was the Cassata, a crazy sweet ricotta cake, covered with sugar and candied fruits. The other was espresso granita, which was served every day for breakfast in a small glass with a dollop of almond flavored cream. Heaven!

I am well versed in granita, and have posted recipes for it here on a number of occasions. But this one was different. The way I was taught to make granita involves creating ice crystals in the liquid (coffee, wine, juice, etc.) by whisking the liquid every 10 minutes or so as it freezes to prevent a block of ice from forming. But in Sicily the ice crystals were much finer. It was almost the consistency of a slushy. After straining my brain to figure this out, it dawned on me that it was probably extruded form a slushy machine – just like those horrible blue things my kids drink at the movies. OK, well, it was still good. The next component was the almond cream, which is made from thickened almond milk. While it will probably turn out that I was given the Sicilian equivalent of Cool Whip, I have nevertheless decided to try and recreate my own version of this luscious treat.

Buon Appetito.

Granita

INGREDIENTS

6 cups espresso, cooled
1 cup simple syrup, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon lemon juice

METHOD

  1. Combine ingredients in a shallow baking dish and place in the freezer.
  2. Use a fork to mix up ice crystals every 15-20 minutes until the entire pan is frozen and slushy, about 2 hours. Serve in well frosted glasses (chill in freezer) as is, with whipped cream, or on top of a dollop of the almond cream in the following recipe.

Almond Cream

INGREDIENTS

1 cup chopped raw almonds
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

METHOD

  1. Preheat oven to 375˚F. Bring cream to a simmer in a medium saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Spread nuts on a baking sheet in a single layer and toast in a 375˚F oven until golden and fragrant, 3-5 minutes. Stir hot nuts into simmering cream. Remove from heat and set aside to steep at least 1 hour, or overnight if possible. Stir occasionally.
  3. Strain steeped almond cream through cheesecloth. Be sure to squeeze out all the nutty goodness. Now, whip the cream to stiff peaks, and keep chilled until ready to serve.

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(Best meal of the day!  Granita Breakfast!)

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