Mi manchi, sai? Mocha-Orange Granita Recipe

It’s known as “dome sickness” in our family. I’m not sure where the term came from but I’m positive that my mom used it first. You won’t find a definition for it on Wikipedia or any other dictionary but I’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. But now time has passed, I’ve been working (a lot), and it’s over 5 years since I last set foot in Italy.

This summer it hit me — with friends taking gorgeous trips down to Sicily and my extended family traipsing about the beach towns in the height of summer. I’m not a jealous type but my desire to be in their shoes would be the closest I’ve ever come to it. But, with a book tour ahead, and lots of other domestic adventures 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. So, let me share a few Italian recipes with you because, though I’m majority Italian, I don’t cook from my roots as often as I should.

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.

Mocha-Orange Granita Recipe

Mocha-Orange Granita with Whipped Cream

  • Makes: 6 to 8 servings
  • Total Time: 3 hours 30 minutes
  • Hands-On Time: 30 minutes


  • 3 cups lukewarm espresso or strong coffee
  • 1/2 cup unrefined cane sugar
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (from 1 medium orange)
  • 2 tablespoons Amaretto, Kahlua, or other coffee liqueur
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest (from 1 medium orange)
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 cup chilled heavy cream
  • Biscotti or your other favorite crumbly cookie


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.

Desserts Recipes