One of the most classic and delicious desserts to enjoy on a warm summer’s evening after a meal is affogato al caffè. Affogato means “drowned” and this sweet and creamy gelato dessert is made with two simple ingredients: cold gelato ice cream drowned in hot espresso coffee. The coffee melts the sweet ice cream, creating a wonderful, creamy dessert to eat with a spoon.
There are many scrumptious variations which we will inspire you with later so you can try them all! You can even serve this dessert to guests at the end of your next dinner party, combing the coffee and dessert into one delicious event.
What equipment do you need to make coffee affogato dessert?
This is a very simple, straightforward recipe that only takes a few minutes to make and requires just a few simple pieces of equipment in the kitchen.
espresso machine, moka pot or coffee maker
ice cream scoop
From start to finish you can make this affogato recipe in about 10 minutes, the hardest part will be picking out the prettiest glass serving dishes and making sure the hot coffee stays hot!
Ingredients for affogato dessert
There is no baking and no complicated ingredients, most likely you already have what you need in the freezer and in your coffee pot.
Gelato or ice cream (1 pint) – you can use any flavor of cold gelato or ice cream you like, but the traditional flavor to use is fior di latte gelato, which basically means the top-quality milk ice cream, and is equivalent to a cream gelato or vanilla ice cream. We also love to make this recipe with stracciatella gelato, the equivalent of chocolate chip ice cream, or even chocolate gelato or ice cream. See our list of variations for more ideas.
Strong brewed coffee (2 cups) – depending on how you usually make your coffee, you can brew very strong coffee in a coffee pot or make 8 shots of espresso in an espresso machine or with a moka pot. The important thing is that the hot coffee or hot espresso is concentrated and not watery and that it stays hot until you use it.
Toppings or liqueur (as desired) – there is no shortage of ways you can customize this affogato recipe to your own unique tastes, whether you add caramel syrup, chopped nuts or a Maraschino cherry, the important thing is using delicious flavor combinations you love.
How to make the best affogato dessert step by step
This affogato recipe is so simple that you can get very creative once you know the basics. It really is the best gelato dessert and best affogato recipe.
Begin by selecting four elegant individual serving dishes so that your dessert looks as good as it tastes. We like either tall, transparent glasses served with long spoons, martini glasses or any other creative and pretty dishes you happen to own. The transparent glass will allow you to see the pretty contrast of the scoop of white vanilla ice cream and the dark brown espresso coffee.
Brew extra strong coffee in a coffee pot by using more than the regular amount of coffee and less than the normal amount of water to ensure it has a strong flavor. For an even stronger flavor you can make Italian espresso shots or espresso coffee in a moka pot from Italy. Keep the coffee in a covered metal or glass container or thermos so that it stays hot until you use it.
Place one large scoop or two smaller scoops of vanilla gelato or ice cream into each individual dish.
Pour two shots of espresso or a 1/2 cup of coffee directly over the gelato, garnish with your favorite topping such as chocolate syrup or shavings, crushed nuts or whipped cream and then serve immediately.
Expert tips for making affogato
Be sure to follow these tips when making your affogato so the outcome is the best homemade gelato and espresso treat you’ve ever had.
Don’t add sugar to the coffee. You should not add any sugar to the coffee because the gelato or ice cream will give the affogato dessert plenty of sugary goodness.
Serve immediately. Once you have poured the hot espresso and “drowned” the ice cream the clock is ticking. You want to serve the dessert right away so that the ice cream doesn’t melt before you dig in.
Don’t use softened ice cream. If your ice cream is too soft, scoop it into the serving dishes and put the dishes directly into the freezer for 20 minutes so that the ice cream hardens up again before you pour espresso over it to make your affogato. You don’t want to be sipping it like soup.
Delicious variations to try
Experimenting with this affogato recipe is a must! Try all kinds of different flavor combinations and additions to find your favorite ones.
Use different flavored ice cream. There are so many flavors to try, the top ones you’ll find in Italy include vanilla gelato, fior di latte gelato and hazelnut gelato. You can experiment with flavors like pistachio or salted caramel, just stay away from the fruit flavors as they don’t work well with coffee.
Add a topping. You can try adding whipped cream, caramel syrup, chocolate shavings or chopped hazelnuts, pistachios or peanuts to give your affogato dessert recipe a new twist.
Add alcohol. Amaretto, Kahlua or other liqueur can be a great addition or substitution for the coffee in this yummy dessert. Simply stir a shot of liqueur into the espresso shot before adding it or pour directly over the ice cream and enjoy before it has time to melt. What a treat!
Here are other desserts for you to try out:
What is the correct way to eat affogato dessert?
Italians eat affogato dessert with a spoon, retrieving pieces of the quickly-melting gelato and some espresso liquid and spooning it into their mouths. If the mixture melts, you can stir it together and drink like a milkshake, but it’s usually gone by then.
When should I have affogato?
Affogato is often eaten as a mid-morning or mid-afternoon snack when out shopping or running errands on a warm summers day or after lunch or dinner at a restaurant for dessert.
Do Italians eat affogato dessert?
Yes, Italians love affogato desserts! In Italy, affogato can be found at the neighborhood coffee shop or in cafes or restaurants after a large meal. This coffee-flavored treat is served in restaurants all over Italy, often showing up on the menu as tartufo affogato which translates to “drowned truffle” with truffle being a semifreddo gelato dessert with a white meringue or brown cocoa powder outer part and a chocolate center.