Growing up, my best friend and I frequented a local Italian ice shop. They had tons of flavors, and although the fruit flavors were the most popular I always ordered chocolate. I loved the combination of rich chocolate coupled with the refreshing chill of flaked ice. This recipe is my recreation of that treat using techniques for making granita. The addition of whipped cream spiked with crème fraîche adds richness to this refreshing dessert.
In a medium saucepan over a medium-high heat, combine 2 1/2 cups water, the cocoa powder, granulated sugar, espresso and salt and whisk constantly until the mixture is combined and the sugar dissolves, 3 to 5 minutes.
Whisk in 2 teaspoons of the vanilla. Remove from the heat and pour into a shallow freezer-safe container like a baking dish. Freeze until solid, at least 4 hours and up to overnight.
Before serving, make the whipped cream. With an electric mixer, beat the heavy cream and confectioners' sugar on high speed until medium-stiff peaks form. Beat in the crème fraîche and remaining 2 teaspoons vanilla on low speed.
Remove the chocolate ice from the freezer about 5 minutes before serving. Using a large fork, rake the mixture to form large icy shavings. Divide the shavings into serving glasses, dollop with the cream and garnish with flaky sea salt.
The shaved ice can be made several days ahead and stored in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 3 weeks.