Chocolate Granita Recipe

Chocolate Granita - Placeholder Image

The Spruce Eats / Colleen Graham

Prep: 20 mins
Cook: 4 mins
Cool and Freeze: 5 hrs 30 mins
Total: 5 hrs 54 mins
Servings: 6 servings
Yield: 1 1/2 pints
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
103 Calories
1g Fat
22g Carbs
2g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6
Amount per serving
Calories 103
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 1g 1%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 25mg 1%
Total Carbohydrate 22g 8%
Dietary Fiber 2g 6%
Total Sugars 17g
Protein 2g
Vitamin C 0mg 0%
Calcium 3mg 0%
Iron 3mg 18%
Potassium 1mg 0%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Chocolate granita is the most indulgent version of the frozen Italian dessert. Very simple to make, granita is flakier than sorbet, and anyone with a freezer and fork can pull it off. This chocolate granita recipe requires just a handful of common ingredients to create a perfectly rich treat that tastes like a moist chocolate cake with the texture of flaky snow.

Preparing the chocolate granita recipe is quick and easy. You'll spend a few minutes making a simple syrup from water, cocoa powder, and sugar on the stovetop, then let it cool before moving it to the freezer. Like all granitas, freezing takes the longest time, and it needs to be forked periodically to break up the ice crystals as they form. This is essential with the chocolate granita because it's thicker than the more common fruity versions, and letting it just sit the entire time makes breaking it up more difficult when it's time for dessert. Yet, if you're around the house and use a timer to remind you when to rake the granita, you'll find it well worth the effort.

Delicious on its own, cream—whether whipped or not—is a brilliant contrast to chocolate granita. Yogurt and crème fraîche are excellent serving options, and you can keep the dessert dairy-free with vegan whipped cream. A few raspberries or blueberries, chopped nuts, coconut flakes, grated chocolate, and chilled espresso are fun ways to dress it up as well.

"Although you need to plan ahead, this is an extremely easy and satisfying dessert—perfect for when you want something rich and chocolatey that’s not too sweet or heavy. Due to the cocoa powder, the granita is denser than a fruit-based granita, but it’s still delicious and refreshing." —Young Sun Huh

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A Note From Our Recipe Tester

Ingredients

  • 2 cups water

  • 2/3 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder, sifted

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar

  • Pinch salt

  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, warm the water to a gentle simmer, about 2 minutes.

  3. Add the cocoa powder, sugar, and salt and whisk for 2 minutes, or until completely dissolved.

  4. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract.

  5. Pour the mixture into an 8-or 9-inch square metal baking pan, and let cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes.

  6. Cover the pan and place it in the freezer for 1 hour.

  7. Using a fork, scrape and mix the granita to combine the semi-solid sides and bottom with the liquid center.

  8. Continue forking the granita every hour until it has a snow-like texture, 4 to 5 hours. During each round, you'll notice it freezing more.

  9. Serve the granita in chilled dessert cups or bowls with the toppings of your choice.

Tips

  • The Dutch-process cocoa powder dissolves more efficiently and gives the granita a darker, richer flavor. The recipe works with any unsweetened cocoa powder, and sifting it removes any lumps that may not break up in the water.
  • The pan size is not critical, but the liquid will freeze more evenly and be easier to fork if it's about 1/2-inch deep, and square baking pans are perfect.
  • Though a glass dish will work, the chocolate granita freezes faster in a metal pan. The time it takes to freeze depends on your freezer's temperature; a deep freezer will get the job done more quickly than the average refrigerator freezer.
  • Make sure the pan is cool enough to set on top of other things in your freezer. Shift items around to give the pan a stable, flat place to rest, and avoid placing it next to fish or other smelly foods. Even when frozen, the granita can pick up strong odors that will alter the taste.
  • The chocolate granita begins to melt rather quickly. To slow it down, place the serving dishes in the freezer for 30 minutes so they're nice and frosty.

Recipe Variations

  • Double up on the chocolatey goodness by melting two ounces of roughly chopped semisweet baking chocolate into the mix before taking it off the heat.
  • Split the water with strongly brewed coffee for an extra depth of flavor and mocha-like taste.
  • Break up the chocolate granita's richness with cream. It can be as simple as a drizzle of cream or vanilla-flavored almond or soy milk in the dish or over the granita. You can also top it with whipped sweet cream or create layers of chocolate granita and vanilla ice cream.

How to Store

Transfer leftover granita to a freezer-safe container and keep frozen, fluffing it with a fork again before serving. The chocolate granita will keep well for up to a week.

Is granita like a slushie?

Both granitas and slushies start from a base of flavored sweetened liquid which then gets frozen. Slushie machines are sometimes even called granita machines. However, a slushie is more of a semi-frozen beverage, whereas granita is fully frozen and closer in form to a sorbet.