DIY Frozen Coffee Treat
After yesterday's episode of "It's Really Hot Out There," I got to thinking that I had absolutely nothing in the house to slurp on. Last week's blueberry sorbet supply was looking raggedy and I was in no mood to suck on an ice cube.
Frankly, I was in the mood for one of those Arctic coffee-frappuccino thingamajigs that people queue up for at Starbucks or Cosi. The closest thing I could get to coffee-franchised bliss without leaving the house would be a granita.
As many of you know, I'm from Philadelphia, where "wooder ice" is King. Granita essentially is a dressed-up wooder ice that you can make at home with a fork and a square pan. As I mentioned earlier this summer, granita of the citrus-y sort is an elegant palate cleanser, something to take the edge off after a big meal, or even between courses.
Coffee granita serves a different kind of function, as cooler-offer as well as caffeine fixer-upper. Italians are known to have a bowl of the stuff when it's just too darn hot for a late-afternoon espresso. But heed the following warning: There's something nearly addictive about a mound of slush that gives you a buzz. You may find yourself begging for more, like a desperate dog or ready to run a marathon from the caffeine that went down the hatch too easily.
At the very least, you won't have spent four bucks (or is it five?) on a 16-ounce plastic cup of frozen coffee.
A few tips to keep in mind as your get granita-tizing:
Chill pan thoroughly in advance.
Mixture should be thoroughly chilled, at least two hours, before freezing.
Mixture should come up only about 1/4 inch along the sides of your pan - or expect longer freezing time.
The hotter the day, the longer the freezing process.
Smaller than hail, bigger than snowflakes - that's the size you're looking for as you rake the ice crystals with a fork.
3 cups espresso or strong brewed coffee
Â¼ cup sugar (or more to taste)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Optional zinger: 2 tablespoons coffee liqueur (Tia Maria, Kahula) or Bailey's Irish Cream
Mix hot coffee and sugar together until sugar is completely dissolved. Cool, the refrigerate until completely cooled, at least two hours. In the meantime, freeze a square metal pan, about 8x8 (Don't worry if your pan is a slightly different size.)
Add vanilla to cooled mixture, and if using, the booze. Stir well, and pour into frozen pan. Cover with plastic or foil and place in freezer.
After 1 hour, retrieve pan and check for ice crystals developing on the edges of the pan. With a fork, stir the crystals towards the center of the pan. Cover and return to the freezer. Repeat this process every 20-30 minutes, for about 3 hours, until mixture is no longer liquidy and resembles snowflakes.
Serve immediately in glass dishes (it's prettier that way) with whipped cream or by itself. If stored in an airtight container, coffee granita will keep for about 1 week.
Makes 4-6 servings.
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