Espresso Granita Affogato Recipe

In terms of desserts, it doesn’t get much easier than this.

Espresso Granita

Affogato means ‘drowned’ in Italian, and any frozen dessert can meet this fate by tippling a little liquor or coffee over it. Classically, espresso is poured over Vanilla Ice Cream, but you’d have to be pretty hard-core to pour espresso over Espresso Granita. If I did that, I’d be ricocheting off the walls around here.

And because I live on the roof, I’m one caffeine-fueled tumble away from meeting my maker. Not my coffee-maker, mind you.
And we wouldn’t want that to happen, now. Would we?

I still have so much to accomplish…like tackling those chocolate marshmallows

So instead of the usual dousing with espresso, I put the icy crystals on the bottom and I’m pouring a dose of Baileys on top, which the French pronounce Bay-layze. Since we’re on strike around here, I figured I should be too, and offer this simple holiday dessert that can be made faster than it takes to find a Vélib’ bike around Paris this week. They’re all gone; everyone rented them for the week and locked them away. Which I guess means I don’t have to go to work, except I work on the sofa and in my kitchen.

Some strike, David.

That’s my week, searching Paris for bikes and pulling long shots of espresso, coupled with the biting cold that had me rifling through my closets in search of my long-lost scarves and mittens—yes, I’m the only grown man that wears mittens in Paris. Stop laughing. I get enough of that around here.

But no ones laughing at me when they taste this extra-icy delicious dessert. Of course, using espresso is the way to go and if you don’t have an espresso-maker, take note that I’m as happy as a vongole with my trusty Bialetti, which does double-duty in my dessert kitchen as well as brewing up my morning café au lait.

I’ve got one of those big-ass machines, but it takes up 6/9th’s of my kitchen and man cannot bake, or live on, espresso alone.

Espresso Crisis #2

If you do want to do the opposite of what I’m doing—and you wouldn’t be the first—go ahead and make a favorite ice cream or sherbet, like Vanilla or Lemon or White Chocolate, and spill a bit of warm espresso over it.

Then pass the spoons.

Now I’m off to slip on my mittens and search for a bike. At least this week I’m fueled by lots of espresso.

Oh. And the occasional shot of liquor doesn’t hurt either.

Espresso Granita Affogato
Print Recipe
Four servings
1 cup hot espresso or strongly-brewed coffee
2 tablespoons sugar
1. Dissolve the sugar in the coffee. Pour into a small plastic container and freeze until solid.
2. Once frozen, scrape the frozen coffee mixture with a fork to make icy crystals.
Serving: Spoon the crystals into four goblets and pour a bit of liquor over each.


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  • Judith in Yummmbria
    November 16, 2007 4:45am

    That’s not very different to how I make it, but only in summer. I make double strength espresso, stir in sugar to make it sweeter than I like, then use a Donvier to freeze it very quickly. Yes, it is finer than the original, which was shaved ice doused with cold sweetened espresso– at least as I had it in ancient times.
    Frangelico is good with it, too.
    I’ve a sad friend visiting in Paris right now and he can only complain about the strike. Strikes that don’t have beginnings and ends published beforehand are very sucky. I prefer ours, where you can plan ahead and everybody is cheery about the whole thing.

  • November 16, 2007 7:48am

    Yum, that looks really good. I’ll definately keep it in mind! My dad used to do something like that with amaretto.

    Have fun bicycling…trains are striking here in Germany, too, and it’s no fun. Especially not when it’s supposedly -6.

  • Kendall
    November 16, 2007 10:29am

    Oh David, please do attempt to make the chocolate marshmallows. I’m too scared to go on that journey alone.

  • November 16, 2007 11:48am

    “vongole” :) you’ve been practicing :)

  • November 16, 2007 11:51am

    I love this recipe and make something similar, only I add just a bit of lemon zest for that roman espresso with lemon rind oil type of flavor. I’m very, very jealous of your ‘big ass machine’ by the way.

  • November 16, 2007 12:14pm

    Sara: Well, the picture was taken when I was learning to use the machine and now I can make a terrific “ristretto”. But since I’m on strike, I can’t take any pictures this week. Hopefully we’ll get this resolved soon…

    Ana & Judith: Thankfully Paris is pretty flat so walking’s an option for those of us not commuting from the suburbs. The strike was announced, although it’s open-ended.

    EB: Better than you being jealous of my big ass!
    ; )

  • November 16, 2007 12:28pm

    can you get mangosteen jam there? throw in a dollop… goes great with coffee! used to have a coffee-mangosteen ice cream by a local company when i was younger.

    Mmmm… Bailey’s! my not-so-secret stash anymore.

  • November 16, 2007 1:15pm

    Sounds definitely very decadent. Yum. Here it is 35 degrees Celsius, so just the weather for cold icy coffee.

  • November 16, 2007 5:28pm

    Espresso and liquor? Doesn’t get much better than that!!

  • Maryann@FindingLaDolceVita
    November 16, 2007 8:18pm

    Hi David,
    I made pomegranate/red wine granita today! I’ll be posting it soon. We must be thinking alike.I don’t care the season, I love it. With Bailys and espresso, you can’t go wrong :)Plus, it’s “christmas-y”.

  • Joan Mocine
    November 17, 2007 12:53am

    The espresso granita made me think of a dessert we had at a friend’s house in Brooklyn earlier this year. It was espresso grounds sprinkled over good vanilla ice cream. It was called something like stracci camino …. gravel on the road?

    Did our friends make this up to fool around with us or is this a real Italian dessert?

  • November 17, 2007 2:01am

    This sounds wonderful – sort of a frozen Irish Coffee, Italian-stle!

  • November 17, 2007 2:18am

    David darling!
    thought of you when I saw the news report on the strike!

    the Affogato is drowned.. and usually I get my ice cream “truffles”, tartufi,”drowned” I do the chocolate one with whiskey or Gran Marnier and the white chocolate one with expresso.

    That was my first “affogato” in San Francisco, a white chocolate ice cream served in a water glass with the shot of expresso and then topped with whipped cream. One of the reasons I moved to Italy was the food at PREGO in the 1980’s!

    In Sicily where Granita rules, the coffee granita is served topped with whipped cream, making a sort of summer cappucino!
    Try it!

    In Florence we have a third generation Sicilian ice cream maker, Antonio, at Carabe.
    I get my lessons on life on all things Sicilian from him.
    I am heading down to Sicily soon to do research for my tours there next year. WHOPPEE!

  • Susan
    November 17, 2007 8:21am

    Thanks for sending the Fresh Ginger Cake recipe, which I am very anxious to try. One question: In the photo above it, it appears to have been baked in a loaf pan, rather than your recommendations. I think that would be a wonderful presentation. Could I use a loaf pan and what would the baking time be?

  • November 17, 2007 8:34am

    Hi Susan: There’s information in the headnote before the recipe about baking those cakes in loaf pans. Happy Thanksgiving Baking!

    ps: For anyone responding to the newletter, my server isn’t forwarding messages from the domain so I’m not receiving messages.

    Please feel free to post here and I’ll respond as best I can. Sorry!

  • November 17, 2007 9:43am

    I love having an espresso poured over vanilla ice cream! It’s my family’s favourite summertime dessert. The espresso over espresso granita sounds good though.

    But since I can’t do a double shot either, I’m gonna give the Bailey’s a try. thanks!

  • November 18, 2007 2:27pm

    Oh my God such a sweet treat! I did this summer a “vin Rose et figue” granita (see my French blog) but I plan to traduire it for my English Food blog soon …
    Bon ap’

  • November 19, 2007 8:36pm

    I love espresso granita! I’ve made your recipe for it in The Perfect Scoop (my wife gave it to me for Christmas–I’m an ice cream fanatic), although this one has less sugar.

    I’d heard that granita doesn’t keep for very long, but I was eating the batch I made for a week or two, every time I needed an extra “kick” in the afternoon. I have some Bailey’s in the liquor cabinet, so I’ll definitely have make this sometime soon!

    I also really enjoyed your Coffee Frozen Yogurt recipe, which I’ll make again.

  • November 20, 2007 9:53am

    Hi Ben: Another espresso granita lover! This recipe is less-sweet than the recipe for Espresso Granita in The Perfect Scoop since the Baileys adds a little sweetness of it’s own.

    This is a terrific combination and in fact, I just made a batch to serve after Thanksgiving Dinner; I think it’ll be a nice way to end the food-fest!

  • SlogDog
    November 25, 2007 7:36pm

    No crema on your shot? I’m afraid what espressophiles would think of that . . .

  • November 26, 2007 2:28am

    Slogdog: I was pulling shots of the granita hence the lack of crema…I was wondering when someone was going to say something! ; )