What do you get when you mix a perfectly pulled double espresso and a scoop of sweet vanilla ice cream? An irresistible affogato coffee. It’s the best midday pick-me-up or after-dinner treat.
Whether it’s a moment of solitary indulgence or digging in with friends, an affogato delivers spoon-clinking, mouth-watering deliciousness!
What Is An Affogato?
An affogato is an Italian coffee-based dessert where a scoop of sweet-cream or vanilla gelato is topped with a shot of hot espresso. It’s more traditionally known as “affogato al caffe,” which means “drowned in coffee.”
The intense, rich coffee flavors meld with ice cream’s soft, creamy taste. It’s a delectable beverage built on opposites. The bitter and sweet flavors play off each other. The differing temperatures and opposing textures combine to create a craveable coffee dessert.
Why You’ll Love It
If you’ve never tried an affogato, now is the time! It’s not as challenging as it appears, and there’s tons of decadent payoff. It’s unique to any other espresso drink because it only involves a scoop or two of velvety sweet gelato.
- If you can pull a shot of espresso, you can perfect this craft coffee dessert. There are no ratios to mix up or techniques to master other than brewing a strong espresso.
- An affogato is delicious as-is but can easily be customized with new flavors to keep this drink exciting.
- The presentation of an affogato is nothing short of impressive. For minimal effort, this is a great dessert option when entertaining guests, and it’s simple enough to enjoy as a mid-week nightcap.
- Espresso Beans
- Gelato or Ice Cream
- Optional flavorings, toppings, or alcohol
When choosing a coffee for an affogato, you’ll want to pick espresso beans. Espresso beans have a full-bodied, robust, intense flavor. It’s a dark and bitter coffee that pairs beautifully with decadent ice cream.
There are tons of espresso beans, both whole and ground, that you can choose from, and there are even some great options on Amazon! The origin and roast level are up to you, and you can try out different kinds until you find your favorite for affogatos.
A classic affogato uses sweet-cream or vanilla-flavored gelato. Gelato is thicker than ice cream, uses more milk than cream, and usually doesn’t include egg yolks. These are all essential factors in creating the perfect affogato.
You want a thick dessert that isn’t quick to melt and doesn’t include egg yolks. The eggs muddy the pure flavor of the frozen dessert as the espresso heats it. Ice cream will still work, but try to find ones that aren’t whipped, aerated, or include eggs.
You can change up your affogato by swapping the type of beans you use or the gelato flavor. For example, try chocolate, almond, pistachio, or salted caramel gelatos.
If you want to add toppings to your dessert, you can’t go wrong with chocolate or caramel sauce. You could try adding any flavor of coffee syrup. Or, spike the affogato by including an ounce or so of amaretto, coffee liqueur, or Irish cream liqueur.
- Espresso Machine, Nespresso, or Moka Pot
- Digital Scale
- Bean Grinder (Optional)
- Ice Cream Scoop (Optional)
First and foremost, you’ll need a way to brew rich, intense espresso. If you have an espresso machine, then you’re set. A Nespresso Machine will work too. You can either use a Double Espresso pod or 2 Single Espresso pods. Otherwise, you can use a stovetop Moka Pot to brew coffee that’s as close to espresso as you can get.
If you don’t have access to any of these but still want to enjoy an affogato, don’t worry. You can pick up some straight espresso shots from your local coffee shop or chain right before assembling the desserts.
Since brewing the espresso at home is the best-case scenario, you’ll want a digital scale to ensure you’re meeting the ideal espresso ratio. When you can perfect the grind and bean-to-water balance, you’ll achieve the best-tasting, full-bodied espresso.
Unfortunately, measuring by volume with a coffee scoop is too imprecise. This is especially true with espresso grinds that are as fine as powder. Instead, invest in a quality digital scale and use that to measure your grinds anytime you’re brewing coffee.
The freshest, most flavorful coffee comes from whole beans that are ground right before brewing. Pre-ground coffee is acceptable but has much less flavor than whole-bean coffee. So if you’re looking to create the ultimate affogato experience, you’ll want to grind whole coffee beans before brewing the espresso.
An ice cream scoop will help you achieve those perfect, full-domed servings of gelato or ice cream. The size and shape are essential. A hefty scoop will melt slower than a pile of a bunch of tiny ice cream slivers that you chipped out of the container with a regular spoon.
- Pull a double shot of espresso. Follow the machine or Moka Pot instructions to brew a 2 oz Lungo. Set it aside to cool slightly while you assemble the rest of the ingredients.
- Use an ice cream scoop to add 1 – 2 scoops to your chosen vessel. Thick-walled glasses or small, shallow bowls are excellent choices.
- Slowly and gently stream the espresso over the top of the ice cream. Then, try to pour it so the espresso cloaks the entire scoop and evenly melts the dessert.
- Grab a spoon and immediately dig in.
Tips and Tricks
- Try to perfect the pour as you drown the gelato in espresso. An even, gentle stream that cloaks the ice cream will evenly cool the espresso without melting too much of the dessert at once.
- You can gently reheat espresso on the stove if you’re using pre-brewed coffee from a local chain. You’ll notice a flavor change, and no crema will be left. However, it’ll still taste delicious poured over high-quality gelato if you’re in a pinch.
- Place whatever glass or shallow bowl you’ll use to serve the affogato into the freezer to chill. This way, you’ll have more time to enjoy the indulgence before it melts.
- Change out the origin or roast of the espresso beans, or try swapping gelato flavors to keep this recipe new and exciting time after time.
Affogato is a satisfying dessert all on its own, but if you want to create a spread for guests, these pairings are effortless and complimentary.
- Biscotti – Any flavor will taste delicious on the side of an affogato. It’s perfect for dipping and scooping up the ice cream and espresso.
- Simple Italian Cookies – Any plain Italian cookies with nuts, jam, or a drizzle of chocolate are perfect for washing down with a sip of affogato.
- Pastries – From buttery croissants to fudgy brownies. Any sweet pastry you’d usually enjoy for breakfast or dessert will compliment an affogato.
- 2 oz double shot of hot espresso
- 1-2 scoops frozen gelato or ice cream
- Following your machine’s instructions, pull a double shot of espresso and set it aside.
- Add 1-2 scoops of frozen gelato or ice cream to a glass or small, shallow bowl.
- Gently stream the hot espresso over the top of the ice cream, trying to cover the entire scoop in a thin layer of espresso.
- Grab a spoon and dig in!
- Thick, dense gelatos are best for this recipe because they won’t melt as quickly as whipped and aerated ice cream.
- Try to choose a gelato or ice cream that doesn’t use eggs since they can muddy the subtle, clean cream flavor.
- Enjoy the affogato right away since the best bites include solid spoonfuls of ice cream.
- Freeze whatever glass or dish you’ll be serving the affogato in so you’ll have more time to enjoy the frosty dessert before it melts completely.
For a clean, classic, and super delicious affogato flavor, go for gelato or ice cream that’s thick, dense, and doesn’t include eggs. You can’t go wrong with a vanilla variety speckled with real vanilla beans.
Serve affogato in a glass or small shallow bowl. You’ll want enough room to fit a spoon down to the bottom and walls high enough to scoop up ice cream and espresso. You’ll eat the ice cream from the affogato with a spoon and then drink the remaining melted ice cream mixed with espresso.
Your regular, everyday chain Starbucks doesn’t have affogato on the menu, but their Reserve Roastery does!
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