This granita is the sweetest thing we make at Zuni, and yet it is surprisingly refreshing. This effect requires fiercely rich espresso. Weaker espresso will make an insipid, pale, sugary granita not worth the effort. Our espresso is made with equal parts dark-roasted Costa Rican, Papua New Guinean, and Colombian beans. Our machine doses ¼ cup water per espresso; we use ¼ ounce ground espresso bean (1-½ tablespoons, very tightly packed) per dose. Don’t use instant espresso, or any sort of brewed coffee.
- 1 cup sugar, or to taste
- 2 cups espresso, room temperature
- 3 tablespoons water
- About ½ cup cold heavy cream
- About 2 teaspoons sugar
Dissolve all but 2 tablespoons of sugar in the espresso and taste. It should taste too sweet; if not, gradually add some or all of the remaining sugar, until it does. Add the water. Pour into a stainless steel pan or glass dish in which forms a pool about an inch deep. Freeze until solid. Due to the high concentration of sugar, this may take up to 8 hours.
Choose a glass, plastic, or stainless storage vessel, about 3 cups capacity, with a tightly fitting lid. Make sure it is dry, snap on the lid, and place in the freezer.
Place the pan of frozen espresso on a cool surface and chop (See notes).
Ten to 15 minutes before serving, turn the container upside down in the freezer. (The espresso syrup sometimes drains from the ice crystals, like syrup in a snow cone; turning it upside down will redistribute the syrup.) Place 5- to 6-ounce serving bowls or glasses in the freezer to chill. I like to use clear, narrow, fluted stemware to show off the layers and crystals.
Combine the cream and sugar and whip very stiffly.
To serve, layer the granita and whipped cream like a parfait in the chilled glasses. There should be nearly as much whipped cream as granita. The surface of the cream will freeze where it is in contact with the granita, and the succession of voluptuous chewy and slushy textures is delightful.