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What Is Affogato & How Do You Make it?

Coffee terms like latte, macchiato, and expresso are commonly heard in coffee shops worldwide, but affogato is not as well known. This is a shame, because affogato is possibly the most delicious foodie secret Italy is hiding from the rest of the world! 

Affogato is an Italian dessert consisting of a scoop of high-grade vanilla or fior de latte gelato or ice cream topped with fresh espresso. Affogato is traditionally served after a formal multi-course meal as a digestive aid, and can be easily recreated at home.  

Affogato might sound like something you’d order in a super fancy restaurant, but luckily it’s simple enough to make in minutes. Read on to learn more about affogato and how to make it yourself. 

What Is Affogato?

One of the reasons that many coffee enthusiasts have never heard of affogato is because this dessert is relatively new. The first use of the term affogato wasn’t recorded until 1992, which makes the affogato less than thirty years old.

Affogato is an Italian invention, and the word affogato means “drowned” in Italian to refer to how espresso is poured over the top of the gelato base.

Is Affogato a Dessert or a Drink?

Affogato was originally invented and intended to serve as an after-dinner digestive aid or digestivo. It’s also a clever way to combine the dessert and coffee courses in a multi-course meal. However, if you’re not above a little ice cream for breakfast, it’s a luxurious way to jump-start a tough day too. 

Is Affogato Hot or Cold? 

Part of the appeal of affogato is that it’s a little bit hot and cold. The contrast in temperature between the hot fresh espresso poured over the frozen gelato is the key element that makes affogato so addictive. The quicker you drink an affogato, the warmer it is. If you prefer your affogato cold, you can let it sit a minute so the ice cream can chill the expresso as it melts. 

how to make affogato

What Goes in an Affogato?

Making affogato is simple since this Italian dessert only has two ingredients. Here’s what you need to make your own affogato: 

  • Fior de latte ice cream or gelato: Traditional affogato is made with a special ice cream called fior de latte or “flower of milk” containing no egg yolks. This makes the ice cream firmer. Regular vanilla gelato or ice cream will work well as a substitute. Cheesecake-flavored ice cream is also a popular choice.
  • Espresso: Espresso is a pressed and concentrated Italian coffee with a higher amount of caffeine than coffee brewed using other methods. 

Making an affogato is as simple as placing a scoop of ice cream or gelato in a bowl and pouring a shot of fresh espresso over the top of it. Affogato can also be served in a cup or glass.  

What Flavors Does Affogato Come In?

Even though vanilla is the most traditional flavor for ice cream in affogato, affogato is also offered in a few other flavors as well. Here are some of the flavors you’re likely to see in affogato: 

  • Cheesecake: Cheesecake is a flavor that is paired in Italian desserts often with sponge cake and espresso. Cheesecake flavored gelato or ice cream makes a rich and traditional flavor pairing for espresso.
  • Chocolate: Chocolate is known as mocha in Italian coffee drinks. Chocolate can be incorporated in affogato either as chocolate-flavored ice cream in the base or as a drizzle of ganache or bittersweet chocolate sauce on top. 
  • Caramel: Caramel has flavor notes of brown sugar flavor that add richness to an affogato. Caramel can be used as either a caramel gelato base or by drizzling caramel sauce over the affogato.
  • Coffee: If you like your espresso to taste like espresso, a coffee-flavored ice cream is a good way to keep the affogato’s coffee flavor consistent throughout without being muddled by other notes such as vanilla or chocolate. 

Even though vanilla is the traditional flavor pairing with espresso in affogato, it’s such an easy dessert that experimentation is a snap. Try playing around with some different flavors to find your favorite combination for an off-menu delight right in your kitchen. 

affogato flavors popular

How Do You Drink Affogato?

Affogato can be sipped or eaten with a demitasse spoon. Which method you choose is up to personal preference, but for a more drinkable affogato, be sure to serve the affogato in a glass and allow it to sit for a few minutes to allow the ice cream to melt into a sippable liquid. 

What Does Affogato Taste Like? 

Affogato has a very similar flavor to traditional coffee-flavored ice cream, but the coffee flavor is more pronounced since the espresso isn’t completely mixed into the ice cream. To soften the flavor of the espresso, the espresso can be stirred completely into the ice cream. However, this makes the dessert a frappé, not an affogato. 

Affogato Is A Delicious Dessert

If you’re looking for a dessert that is sure to impress your next living room full of houseguests, try whipping up a few bowls of affogato. This simple but sophisticated treat will help everybody’s meal settle while you enjoy their company after dinner.  Pair them with a plate of matcha snickerdoodles and you’re golden! For another sweet treat, try whipping up an iced sugar cookie latte on a hot day.

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