Every summer, in strip malls all along Long Island's south shore, purveyors of Italian ice set up temporary shop. On hot and balmy nights, lines wind down the sidewalk, and when I used to live there, I'd hop right on too. A long line was a good line for me because it'd take me forever to decide on a flavor, even though I'd usually get the same thing every time. I never went for fruity, unsatisfying flavors like lemon or raspberry. It was always cannoli, peanut butter, or chocolate for me. Even when it comes to an icy dessert such as a granita (which is similar to an Italian ice or sorbet, except that it has larger, crunchier ice crystals), I'd still prefer it to be super rich and as full bodied as it can get.
So when I decide to create a chocolate granita, you can trust that it's not going to be your average granita. This one is big and bold. For inspiration, I also knew just where to start: my favorite chocolate sorbet, a go-to recipe that's never let me down, from Francois Payard's Simply Sensational Desserts. This deep dark sorbet is crazy rich thanks to heaps of block chocolate, cocoa, and a touch of cream. So why not just make the sorbet you ask? Well I'm ice cream maker challenged at the moment, so a granita is the perfect choice. And it's so easy to make: simply freeze the granita mixture in a container and hand stir a few times during the process to keep the granita from freezing into one hard block. This was also an opportunity to do what I love best—take a recipe for one thing and twist it into something else. I turned my favorite chocolate sorbet into my new favorite chocolate granita,
It wasn't just a simple method swap, however. Francois's recipe contains cream, and since granitas are usually of the leaner variety, I decided to dump the cream so that the final dessert would stay as true to a granita as possible. Dairy also has a tendency to dull the flavor of chocolate, so I knew this decision would make my granita even more chocolaty. To bump up the intensity of the chocolate ever further, I swapped brewed coffee for the plain water. Without a doubt, this is the deepest, darkest, most indulgent granita that you've ever tasted. It's even better as it starts to melt and get slushy—if you let it get that far.
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About the Author: Yvonne Ruperti is a food writer, recipe developer, former bakery owner, and author of The Complete Idiot's Guide To Easy Artisan Bread. You can also watch her culinary stylings on the America's Test Kitchen television show. She presently lives in Singapore as a freelance writer for Time Out Singapore. Check out her blog: Shophousecook. Follow Yvonne on Twitter.