You didn’t think ice cream could get any better, did you? But it can if you try an affogato! An affogato is the perfect after dinner treat: cool, sweet ice cream slowly melting in hot, slightly bitter espresso or strong coffee. This scoopable, sometimes-drinkable delight was made for those who want to finish a meal with both coffee AND dessert – all in one dish!
I’m relatively new to the affogato. I had an especially delicious one in an unlikely place – at a gastropub in the Cotswolds last August – and I’ve been thinking about it ever since. Though I haven’t seen an affogato on many menus around here, that’s no problem since it’s so easy to make at home. It requires just two ingredients: ice cream/gelato + espresso/coffee.
The affogato is a modern invention but frozen desserts have a long history in Italy, going back to Roman times. During the Renaissance, Catherine de Medici, trendsetter that she was, supposedly brought gelato and other frozen confections to France where they became very popular in the royal courts.
Though you can make an affogato (Italian for “drowned”) with regular ice cream, I opted to use gelato. Gelato has less fat than traditional ice cream which renders a more milky and less creamy consistency. Gelato is also churned at a slower rate than ice cream which introduces less air into the final product, resulting in a denser frozen dessert. Lastly, gelato is best stored and served at a slightly warmer temperature (store in the freezer as usual; let it sit on the counter a few minutes before eating) which allows it to soften to the consistency of those luscious swirls you’d see in a traditional gelateria.
I like to keep things simple when I make an affogato, but for those looking to experiment, changing up coffee and gelato flavors (pumpkin coffee + vanilla ice cream in autumn?) and adding toppings is always an option.
2 scoops gelato or ice cream
2 ounces freshly-made espresso or strong coffee
(Use a 1:1 ratio of gelato to espresso when making an affogato)
Prepare espresso or coffee as you normally would. I use ground coffee or espresso in a French press; a Bialetti stovetop espresso maker would work well here.
Put two scoops of gelato into a serving dish. I like to use a glass cup so that I can see the mingling of espresso and gelato. Pour the espresso over the gelato and enjoy immediately!