I think in another life, I was European. I'm the Italian woman dressed to the nines, walking around Rome eating gelato in high heels and red lipstick. I'm the Italian grandma from the "old country" who makes homemade wine, fresh mozzarella cheese, and is always saying "mangia, mangia." I'm the flamenco dancer taking a quick bite of a tortilla española before getting on stage in a crowded, smokey bar in Sevilla. Or the proud Catalan woman who knows the perfect ratio of espresso to sangria on a Friday night.
Oh yes. I could be any one of those.
I was reassured of this fact on my recent trip to Italy and Spain. (Which by the way, I discovered some amazing gluten-free places... more on that soon) Turns out, I am very, very good at what Europeans do best... the eating, the walking, the drinking, the talking. They have so many things figured out! Especially the espresso. HOLY MOLY. It's amazing. It's an experience. Here, you order your big cup of coffee, sit down at a table and sip on it for a while (while checking email). Not in Europe. No one sits down with espresso. You stand at the bar and knock it back- which doesn't take very long. But let me tell you those few sips are total and complete bliss. If I wanted the delicious espresso experience to last longer, I would strategically order it with a little foamed milk on top, known to most as a macchiato, but I know it as heaven.
Needless to say, I got used to having a few espressos during the day on my trip. Now, I am a coffee snob. Thanks Europe. I can no longer walk in to just any coffee shop and find something. I would rather go without than to have a mediocre espresso shot. I've taken drastic measures to get really good ground Italian espresso delivered to my door (thank you amazon). Which leads me to my confession... I have had an afternoon espresso or macchiato every afternoon since our trip. It's been a whole month! And it's been fabulous.
But here's my problem- my espresso maker makes four shots and I'm usually just making the espresso for myself. I couldn't bear to watch the extra three servings get poured down the drain every day (it's liquid gold). I kept brainstorming on things I could do with it. Could I water the plants with it? Give it to the dogs? (that's a scary thought) Hmmm... I was stumped. Then one day I added sugar and a little whipping cream and made the easiest, most delicious Italian ice. It reminds me of the café con leche my grandmother used to make for me when I was a kid. I feel more European already.
Now if I could only learn how to dance flamenco...
[Gluten-Free] Café con Leche Granita
I love to serve espresso with dessert at my dinner parties. But this summer, I’m making this! Coffee and dessert all in one chilled treat! Plus it reminds me of a delicious café con leche. Mmmmm…
Makes 4-5 servings
¾ cup freshly brewed espresso
¼ cup natural sugar
¼ cup heavy whipping cream
Stir together the hot espresso and sugar until the sugar dissolves. Stir in cream. Pour mixture into an 8-by-8 inch glass baking dish or 9-inch round glass pie pan. Place in the freezer, uncovered. After 30 minutes, remove the pan from the freezer and scrape the surface with a fork to get shavings of ice, breaking up any big chunks. Place the pan back in the freezer and repeat every 30 minutes until the shaved ice holds its shape. It usually only takes three times total.
Serve in chilled bowls. Cover the pan with aluminum foil and the granita will keep for a couple days in the freezer. Just re-scrape with a fork before serving. Enjoy!
Looking for a more fruity granita? Try my Tangy Raspberry Granita.