Tag Archives: Coffee

Granita al Caffé (Iced Coffee)

22 Jul

The granita al caffè is a typical summer Sicilian breakfast, particularly in the Messina area. It is cool and sweet, made with water, sugar and coffee. It can be enjoyed with fresh, crusty bread or with the classic tuppu brioche, an Italian breakfast bread with a spherical ball of dough on top. Coffee granita is commonly served with whipped cream – what a delight! Its origins are ancient and go back to the time of the Arab domination. In the past granita was prepared in Sicily using winter snow gathered from the mountains and then stored throughout the year in special caves. The resulting ice was scraped and served with fruit syrup! In fact, even today the most traditional granita recipes are made by repeatedly scraping the surface of the ice. Over time this type of preparation based on snow changed to the modern granita made with an ice cream maker. The classic flavors are lemon, strawberry, almond and, naturally, coffee! The industrial recipes include gelling agents to increase the creaminess and to keep it from melting, but this is really a true homemaker’s recipe, just as my mother and my grandmother made it without using an ice cream maker and, of course, including the typical “scratch”!

Preparation time: 18 min.       Cooling time: 4 hours        Servings: 2

Granita al Caff

70 g (⅓ cup) sugar
180 ml (¾ cup) water
300 ml (1 ¼ cup) espresso
180 ml (¾ cup) fresh cream
2 tablespoons powdered sugar

1. Prepare the espresso coffee and let cool completely
2. In a saucepan over low heat melt the sugar with water, bring to a boil and cook for 1 minute until you obtain a syrup. Turn off the heat and allow to cool
3. Combine coffee with syrup and mix well. If you have an ice cream maker, pour in the mixture and follow the instructions. Otherwise pour it into a metal container (steel) or glass (Pyrex), because they are good conductors, and store in the freezer for two hours. Remove from the freezer and mix with a spoon to prevent solidification into ice. Repeat this procedure every 40 minutes for about 2 more hours
4. Whip the cream with powdered sugar
5. Scrape the granita with a spoon into a small glass and top with whipped cream.

Note: The amount of sugar used can be varied to reach your desired level of sweetness; taste is very personal.


7 Oct

A pick-me-up that really picks you up

Tiramisù, arguably the most popular Italian creamy dessert, combines the flavor of mascarpone cheese, coffee and savoiardi cookies.  The name literally means “pick me up”, metaphorically “make me happy”, and usually the diner’s expression when eating it betrays this emotion.  The “pick me up” may refer to the caffeine in the espresso and the effect of cocoa used in the recipe.  The name may also have another meaning; it is commonly thought that this dessert is stimulating and aphrodisiac!  Tiramisù is not an “exotic dessert” and is not even too difficult to make.  My own tiramisù recipe is a very light  (no raw eggs and no cream), but at the same time it still has a smoothy and creamy  texture. One secret is to use very good, fresh mascarpone (if you can not find fresh mascarpone, I recommend the brandGalbani“) and to prepare the tiramisù one day in advance. If you are reading this recipe, you may have tried traditional tiramisù at least once in an Italian restaurant, but I hope you will find that this tiramisù will be an even more intense sensorsial ecstasy for your palate.

Preparation time: 20 min. + 4 hrs refrigeration time      
650 g (1 ½ lbs) fresh Italian mascarpone cheese
90 g (1 cup) powdered sugar
400 ml cold (and strong!) espresso coffee
3-4 tablespoons rum
200 g (7 oz) Ladyfingers (large Italian savoiardi are best, the bigger the better), about 28-30 cookies
cocoa powder

1. Place the mascarpone and sugar in a medium mixing bowl
2. Mix with an electric mixer for 1 minute or until sugar dissolves
3. Add rum and set aside

4. Dip one Ladyfinger at a time, very quickly, into a bowl of coffee, placing them in a single layer to cover the bottom of an 11-cup serving dish (23 cm x 18 cm, approx. 9 in x 7 in)
5. Spread half the cheese mixture evenly over the layer of sponge fingers
6. Repeat to make one more layer with the remaining Ladyfingers dipped in coffee
7. Spread the rest of the cheese mixture on top
8. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours (overnight is best for the flavors to mingle fully)
9. Before serving, cover by evenly sifting some cocoa powder on top

Note: The traditional tiramisù recipe calls for raw eggs too, but I prefer not to use them for a couple of reasons: a) to reduce cholesterol; b) raw eggs can cause salmonella.  Also, if the mascarpone is very thick, as some pre-packages cheeses are, you may have to add a few tablespoons of cream to make it a little more workable.  -Paola

%d bloggers like this: