I found a recipe in an old Bon Appetit magazine for Coffee Bean Granita. It called for whole coffee beans which you put in boiling water and steep for 3 hours, then freeze, stirring every 45 minutes for 5 hours. I made the recipe as it said, and it was pretty good, but... too much trouble. So here I go again to see if I can make something just as good, maybe faster and easier.
What is granita? Well, you know ice cream, which is made with cream, sugar, flavorings, and you make it in an ice cream freezer so it's very smooth and creamy. In other words, it's high calorie and high fat, but oh so good. Then there's sorbet, which is just fruit juice that's been processed like ice cream to have a smooth and creamy texture. Granita is like sorbet, except that you want it to have ice crystals in it, unlike ice cream or sorbet. Instead of making it in an ice cream freezer that turns continuously and keeps the ice crystals extremely small, you make granita in a bowl or pan, allowing the ice crystals to form around the edges. Then you stir it occasionally and new crystals form. By the time it's all frozen, you have a pan or bowl full of fine flavored ice crystals.
My hot tip: I wear a clip-on kitchen timer to remind me to get back into the kitchen and stir the granita. Otherwise, I'd forget about it and have a solid block of frozen coffee.
Below is the recipe, and on my third attempt I just did the entire thing in a 4-cup Pyrex glass measuring cup. My quicker and easier version was so close in taste to the original coffee bean granita, why would I do it the hard way?
Easy Coffee Granita
1/2 c. brewed coffee
1/2 c. boiling water
1/4 c. sugar
1 T. coffee liqueur (Tia Maria or Kahlua)
Combine coffee, water and sugar in a glass bowl or large Pyrex measuring cup. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Add coffee liqueur and stir to blend. Freeze until firm, stirring every 30 minutes, about 2-3 hours. (Can be prepared 3 days ahead. Cover and keep frozen.)
You can either scrape it into large crystals with the tines of a fork, or mash it for finer crystals.