Ice & Coffee

A few years ago when we were in Sicily, our morning was never complete without a granita. This is the standard breakfast for Sicilians, eaten along with a sweet brioche type bun. There were numerous flavours available, but it was the coffee granita that intrigued me. It seemed to be a one stop shop – a morning caffeine jolt and a cool ice in a hot climate all rolled into one. Of course, here in Greece cold coffee frappĂ©s or iced cappuccinos are the choice morning drinks in the hot summer months – not far off the idea of that coffee granita. 

With thoughts of cold coffee swirling around in my head, a vague idea began to form. It finally coalesced when I recently made Nick Palumbo’s chocolate sorbet. It is a great recipe from his book, Gelato Messina, a book inspired by Palumbo’s Sicilian heritage and the place where he learned to make traditional gelati and sorbetti. I wondered how his chocolate sorbet might taste with coffee. Or, it might have been that Sicilian connection that set this train of thought in motion. 

However it came to be, my mocha sorbet was born – with a nod to its ancestor, coffee granita and to its more recent parent, chocolate sorbet. The resulting taste test: fantastic.

Mocha Sorbet
Based on Nick Palumbo’s chocolate sorbet, but with a twist.

  • 400ml espresso coffee
  • 250ml water
  • 200gr caster sugar
  • 60gr dextrose
  • 25gr maltodextrin
  • 40gr good quality unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 5gr xanthan gum
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Make your coffee, measure it, and put it into a large glass bowl. Add the water. Set aside while you weigh the dry ingredients. Put the sugar, dextrose, maltodextrin, cocoa and xanthan gum in a bowl and mix until completely blended.

Warm the coffee and water mixture in the microwave until warm (1-2 minutes). Slowly whisk the dry ingredients into the warm liquid. The gum will create a gel as you whisk. Cover and place into the refrigerator until very cold.

Before processing in your ice cream machine, blend the mixture with a wand blender. Pour into your ice cream machine and process according to your machine’s instructions. When the sorbet is processed it will still be slightly soft. Put it into a container and place in the freezer for at least 4 hours or overnight.

Nick Palumbo’s instructions for chocolate sorbet indicate that the structure is altered if left overnight and it is best served the day it is made. I have not found this to be the case. In order to scoop, however, it is best to leave it in the refrigerator for about 15 to 20 minutes before scooping.

Little scoops are elegantly served in espresso cups (demitasse), perhaps with an almond biscotto on the side. It is surprising how a little goes a long way.



  1. Was just in Sicily where everyone eats gelato in a brioche for breakfast, and your mocha sorbet would have been perfect first thing on a hot morning. Just wish I had an ice cream machine over here – your next-door neighbor.


    • Having the ice cream machine here in Athens has been fabulous! Failing your own, the little place around the corner on Marasli has great gelato and sorbetto, although a limited selection. We sometimes have a small hit of this mocha sorbetto after lunch instead of a cup of coffee. Much more refreshing – particularly now that they have taken our air conditioners down during reconstruction!


  2. Our coffee machine went pffutt yesterday, so we having to head out for our morning caffiene fix, nothing quite as enticing as your Sicilian breakfast though. Once we can make coffee again, I’ll give this a try


    • I found this comment in my spam folder – not a folder I frequently visit, I might add. Better late than never. This sorbet was delicious, but very strong on the espresso side. My husband loved it! Hope your coffee machine is back in order.

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