Affogato is an Italian dessert prepared by pouring a shot of freshly brewed hot espresso over a scoop of vanilla gelato (ice cream). The result is a delicious, smooth drink. The Italian name of this coffee drink, or dessert, is affogato al caffè.
The magic of an affogato is that you mix two pleasures in one. You have a dessert that you can serve with a spoon, and the coffee drink to balance it. The sweet ice cream enhances the bitter coffee and not overtake it.
In this article, we share some interesting facts about the history and origin of this popular dessert. We also describe how to make it at home.
What Is an Affogato Coffee?
An affogato is an espresso-based drink prepared with on shot of espresso and on scoop of fior di latte gelato or vanilla ice cream. Affogato is traditionally made with espresso. Check our post where we show why is espresso better than other coffees.
The word affogato means “drowned” in Italian. The name refers to the ice cream being drowned by the coffee. The recipe we are dicussing here on this page is “Affogato al caffè“, however, there are a lot of other “drowned ice-cream beverages”, but they are drowned in different drinks. Some of these drinks are hot chocolate, cherry syrup, or Marsala.
Affogato is considered a dessert in Italy, the country of origin of this interesting recipe. However, in many places is considered a beverage. I have a hard time myself deciding whether it’s a coffee drink or a dessert, but since so many see it as an espresso drink, I will too.
Often times affogato is confused by customers with espresso. While technically affogato contains an espresso shot, an affogato style espresso is more of a dessert than a coffee drink.
Regardless of the categorization, affogato is often served at the end of the meal in restaurants, and it serves as a digestif, especially when is made a bit boozy, as you will see in a moment.
Some people like to get it as a caffeine delivery system, for a boost of energy in times of need. Erik Kim describes affogato as his essential concoction for long stretches of boring road.
An interesting take on the recipe is cold brew affogato. The recipe calls for a scoop of chocolate ice cream floating on a condensed milk and cold brew mix. While the coffee might not be hot, you add ice cream into coffee, so it is an affogato.
How To Make an Affogato al Caffè at Home?
Step 1: Add on scoop of vanilla ice cream or fior di latte.
Choose the right ice cream: Choose the best vanilla gelato. Vanilla gelato is the perfect ice cream for anyone looking for the classic flavor. For those with milk allergies, you will have to choose a non-dairy ice-cream, or a lactose free one.
Step 2: Prepare a shot of espresso and pour it over the ice cream.
Choose the right espresso: The classic inimitable taste of espresso prepared with a pump driven espresso machine. If you don’t own an espresso machine, espresso alternatives are a decent option. Here are the instructions on how to make espresso, if you need them.
Step 3: Optional – for a boozy experience, add a bit of Metaxa, or Frangelico liqueur.
If you add a digestif drink, such as Drambuie, Sambuca or Amaro, your affogato will be the perfect meal end, as a combo between a coffee, a digestif, and a dessert.
Step 4: Serve your affogato fast.
The espresso shot will melt some of the ice cream, but if you are fast enough, you can use a teaspoon.
- 1 fluid ounces Espresso Espresso made with an espresso machine
- 1 scoop Fior di latte gelato you can also use a good vanilla ice cream without eggs
- 1 tsp Ammaretto. or Sambuca Optional for a boozy flavor
- 1 square Dark chocolate shavings Optional
- Pull an espresso shot – instructions to pull an espresso shot.
- If you are adding a digestif to your affogato, mix it with the espresso now.
- Drop one scoop of ice cream or gelato in a small narowing glass.
- Pour the espresso shot over the ice cream.
- Optionally shave some dark chocolate on top and serve with a long spoon or straw.
Tips and Tricks for The Best Affogato Recipe
I love creativity in the kitchen and in the bar, but when it comes to affogato, less is more. There is nothing wrong to get creative and test various additions to the recipe, but in my experience the less ingredients you add the more you will enjoy your affogato. The list of ingredients is: ice cream, espresso, boozy agent, (optional), some chocolate shavings, (optional).
The best ice cream to use is Fior di latte, an Italian gelato, however, vanilla bean ice cream is a great replacement. Buy ice cream without eggs, for a perfect cream flavor. Italian gelato is the best because is more dense. If the ice cream is too airy it will melt as soon as you pour the hot espresso.
If you go for the boozy recipe, show restraint when adding the Sambuca. Sambuca is there for flavor and not for the buzz.
You can serve the dessert with a biscotto or a cookie on the side, as you would serve a regular espresso.
Serve in a tall narrowing clear glass with a long spoon. A clear glass allows you to watch the ice cream melt. You can also use a straw, if you want.
If you are adding Sambuca, or Amaretto, you can add it to the espresso, then pour it over the ice cream.
You can keep the glasses with the ice cream in the freezer while you make the espresso. This prevents the ice cream from melting.
Be warned, espresso alternatives are not going to taste like a real espresso shot. This recipe contains 50% coffee, so coffee flavor will be predominant. Whatever coffee you use will determine the flavor of your affogato.
We would rank the espresso powder and brewed coffee on the last spots as espresso alternatives, with AeroPress, and Moka pot coffee on the first two spots. A stronger French press is also acceptable.
Pull your espresso shot first, and only then scoop your gelato. This mitigates the melting ice cream issue, and it let’s the espresso cool down just a bit, so when you pour it over the ice cream is just the right temperature.
If you want your affogato less sweet, and more caffeinated, make a triple espresso shot.
What Coffee Beans Are Best for the Espresso Shot?
While in general we encourage espresso lovers to try all coffee beans for their shots, for this recipe we recommend you stick to a classic espresso blend. A Brazilian, or other South American coffee bean are great.
We recommend a medium-dark roast, in order to get that classic syrupy espresso taste, that goes perfect in dessert recipes.
Other Questions about Affogato
How do you drink affogato?
It depends on how fast you are. If you are like me, slow at ice cream eating, you will probably end up drinking the stuff. But if you are fast, like my wife is, you will use the dessert spoon that comes with an affogato.
What does an affogato taste like?
An affogato is a great coffee dessert. It is sweet but not sugar-rush sweet, and the bitterness in coffee balances the ice cream sugar. European style ice creams are less sweet than North American ice creams, so there will be a difference in taste, but not an important one.
Does affogato have milk?
Affogato does not have pure milk, but the ice cream contains dairy, unless you order it specifically.
Affogato is an espresso-based dessert that can be a great meal ending If you’re looking for a delicious dessert that won’t break the bank, give an affogato a try! This espresso-based dessert is ideal for a post-meal treat, and can be made with just a few simple ingredients.
You can also get it as an energy boosting option, to get you back up to speed, during a quarter end crunch, or during long trips that drain you out.