You probably already have everything you need to make espresso granita — the only tools required are a freezer and a fork. Italians serve espresso granita with unsweetened whipped cream, spiked here with cardamom, which is an ideal counterpart to the strong sweetened coffee.
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Combine the hot coffee and sugar in a bowl, stirring until the sugar dissolves completely. Stir in the liqueur (if using). Pour the mixture into an eight-inch square or equivalent size dish and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Freeze, using a fork to lightly scrape the surface to break up the frozen coffee into tiny crystals every hour, until the granita is fully scraped and a fluffy consistency, at least four hours total. (If you forget to scrape the granita and it freezes solid, don’t worry — it will still work. Just let it thaw very slightly, then use a fork to scrape and break it up into tiny crystals.) Cover the dish and freeze until ready to serve.
A few minutes before serving the granita, combine the cream and cardamom in a medium bowl. Whisk by hand until the cream holds very soft peaks. It’s better to under-whip than to over-whip here. As soon as the cream thickens and holds floppy peaks, stop whisking.
Layer a spoonful of espresso granita in the bottom of a pretty glass or small bowl. Top with a dollop of cardamom cream, followed by another spoonful of granita and more cardamom cream. Serve immediately.
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