It’s known as “dome sickness” in our family. You won’t find a definition in any other dictionary because it's my Mom's term and she'd define it as an intense longing for the duomo of Florence and for Italy in general.
My mother’s love for Italy was everywhere growing up — there’d be Pavarotti playing on a Sunday afternoon and bruschetta seemingly each and everyday that the tomatoes were in the garden. I caught the bug early on and lived in Italy largely because her love of the country was so infectious. So infectious that for nearly a decade, I scraped together every cent I earned and hopped on every standby flight possible to head over there. So, now, if I haven't been there in a year, I start to get a seven hills itch.
This summer it hit me — but with lots of other trips on the horizon, the best I can do is cook Italian food. It’s really a band-aid on a broken dam type of solution but it’s certainly an enjoyable solution. To cure my latest bout of dome sickness, I’ve been scraping together (literally) this coffee granita. It’s a classic Southern Italian recipe with the addition of orange juice, cocoa, and some liqueur for something that’s more than meets the eye. And, let’s be honest, it’s a pretty great way to breath new life into leftover coffee.
Kahlua, or other coffee liqueur
(from 1 orange)
Combine coffee, sugar, and cocoa, and whisk until sugar melts. Add orange juice, liqueur, orange zest, and salt and whisk again. Pour mixture into 2 quart glass or metal dish and place on level shelf in freezer for half an hour. (Mixture should only come about 1/2-inch up the side of the pan.)
Remove from freezer and, using a large fork, gently stir any ice crystals that have formed on the sides of the pan back into the liquid, not breaking them up entirely. Return to freezer and repeat scraping every 30 minutes until the whole mixture has the texture of crushed ice, about 3 hours.
Before serving, scrape the granita with a fork to fluff it and allow it to “dry” in freezer another 20 minutes before serving. Meanwhile, take chilled cream and place it in a large impeccably clean bowl. Using a clean whisk or stand mixer, whip the cream until it has soft peaks — when the whisk is pulled from the bowl, the cream holds onto the whisk but bends a bit at the end.
Scoop granita into cups or dishes for serving and top with whipped cream and a few crumbles of your favorite cookie.
Food styling and photography by Aida Mollenkamp