Rome is so unrelenting in the summer that even the Italians take time in August to escape the heat. They retreat to Croatian beaches or wherever there is water, really, during the Italian holiday Ferragosto.
But when you’re in Rome, you can stop by seasonal kiosks adorned with cups of refreshing lemoncocco, which is exactly what it sounds like: freshly squeezed lemon fused with creamy coconut milk. The second best summer dose in my humble opinion is the espresso granita.
I had my very first Italian espresso granita with me Tazza d’Oro, a historic cafe located in the bustling square near the Pantheon. The line was long. It was hot. I needed a pick-me-up, stat. The cup may be small, but the caffeine was mighty; the top was heaped with a delicious mound of fresh cream.
Even though you are not in Rome you can still do what the Romans do: devour icy treats. (I’ll make a note for the Italophiles ready to come to me: Yes, granita is native to Sicily, where they pile smooth, often almond granita in brioche and eat it for breakfast.) No one is stopping you from having a raspberry granita or even get drunk and turn the Aperol Spritz into a cold snack. For me, espresso granita is the move. I need that buzz. And, hey, you can add vodka and coffee liqueur to make this an espresso martini granita for a fizzy ride.
Granita, simply put, is shaved ice, and all it takes to make it is a dish, a freezer, and a fork.
• 4 cups of hot espresso or very strong coffee
• 1 ½ cup sugar
• 2 cups heavy whipping cream
1. I make my espresso using a stovetop espresso machine, such as the MokaPot, but you can use whatever method is most available to you. Instead, you can brew a strong brewed dark roast coffee.
2. Mix the warm, not too hot espresso with sugar until the sugar has dissolved.
3. To freeze, pour the mixture into a bowl at least 5 cm deep (something 2 liters is best, about 8 x 12 inches). Place in the freezer for an hour.
4. When you notice the edges starting to harden, take a fork to break up the frozen pieces and stir the mixture together. Stretch frozen outside bites toward the center. Return to the freezer. Check the mixture every 30 minutes and stir each time. Break large chunks into smaller pieces until fine crystals form throughout the dish.
5. Make your whipped cream topping. Place heavy cream in a bowl and beat with a hand mixer or whisk to medium peaks.
6. Once you’ve reached your granita texture, stack it in a cup and top with fresh whipped cream.