½ cup sugar
½ cup water
3 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
3 cups espresso or triple-strength coffee
½ tsp vanilla extract brandy for garnish
whipped cream for garnish (optional)
Combine the sugar, water, and cocoa in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Cook until the syrup is clear. Remove from the heat and stir in the espresso and vanilla. Let cool to room temperature. Transfer to a container, cover, and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, about 3 hours. Pour into a 9-inch nonreactive square pan, cover with aluminum foil or plastic wrap, and place in the freezer. Once an hour, stir with a fork, scraping the crystals from the sides of the pan into the liquid center. Repeat 2 or 3 times until the entire mass is set into small, light crystals, 2 to 3 hours. Serve at once or transfer to a container, cover, and freeze. To serve, spoon into chilled parfait or other decorative glasses, letting it mound on the surface, and pour 1 teaspoon of brandy over each serving. Top with whipped cream, if desired.