It's fair to say that the term "health freak" is unlikely ever to be applied to me, but I like to think I generally balance the sinful and the saintly when it comes to food. I don't obsess over food groups, or diligently tally kilojoules, or sweat over my five a day. I do, however, often find myself saying, as I scramble for the dog leads to go for a walk, "that's probably enough cheese/ice-cream/cake for today, unless of course said ice cream/cake involves coffee and a sly tipple in the spirit of my favourite cocktail – an espresso martini. Then I’m involved in a take no prisoners kind of way. You should be too – the layers look beautiful and if you use store bought ice cream, this cake involves nothing more than a few gentle stirs and freezing time.
Given the alcohol affects the setting ability of ice cream, I’ve alternated the alcoholic and non-alcoholic layers, it helps for when you are slicing the cake but don’t worry – this is just as good scooped quickly into bowls and eaten with abandon, just be careful if you have to drive anywhere afterwards. The richness of the spices and coffee means if you do fall into the “obsessive food group category” that a sliver really is enough, satiating even the most ardent ice cream lovers.
3 cups good quality vanilla bean ice cream
3 cups good quality chocolate ice cream
2 tbsp ground cardamom
3 cups vanilla ice cream
90ml espresso (plus more to taste if you like it strong)
125 mls water
Grease a deep-sided 20cm diameter cake tin. Line the base and 2 long sides with plastic wrap, allowing the sides to overhang generously.
Start with the vodka layer and transfer the vanilla ice-cream to a bowl and set aside to soften slightly. Add the vodka and stir until incorporated. Spread over the cake base. Smooth the surface. Place in the freezer for 30 minutes or until firm. Transfer the chocolate ice cream to a bowl. Add the ground cardamom, stir until combined then gently pour over the top of the vanilla ice cream layer. Return to the freezer. Transfer the remaining vanilla ice cream to a bowl. Add the Kahlua and espresso and stir to combine. Pour into the tin over the chocolate layer, smooth the surface and cover with the overhanging plastic wrap. Place in the freezer for 2 hours but best overnight with the alcohol in the ice cream to ensure it is firm.
Prepare the granita by combining the sugar and water in a saucepan and bring to the boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer until slightly syrupy (2 minutes). Remove from heat, add the coffee then transfer to a shallow tray and freeze, stirring with a fork every 30 minutes, until ice crystals form (approximately two hours).
Turn out the cake onto a serving platter and remove the plastic wrap. Top with shards of espresso granita and serve. It helps to use a knife run under hot water to cut into the cake.