Affogato: the Traditional Recipe for The Italian Dessert with Espresso Coffee and Ice Cream

Total time: 10 mins.
Difficulty: Low
Serves: 1 person
By Cookist

For an elegant, effortless, and impressive dessert that you can make in no time, you'll love this beautiful Affogato recipe. Affogato is a classic Italian dessert made from espresso coffee and vanilla ice cream (or gelato).

Simple yet satisfying, the combination of sweet, cold, creamy gelato and hot, slightly bitter espresso is a delight to the taste buds. Once the hot coffee hits the cold gelato, the ice cream begins to melt, mixing the two flavors perfectly.

The secret is to eat an affogato quickly before the gelato completely melts. Affogato ice cream coffee is a fantastic dessert to serve for any occasion, and it's a perfect single-serve dessert that you'll enjoy making again and again!

What is Affogato?

Also known as an affogato al cafe (pronounced affo-gah-toe), this tasty Italian dessert is made by pouring a single shot of espresso over gelato (although you can also use coffee and ice cream). In Italian, affogato means “drowned” referring to the drowning of the gelato in the espresso.

Some versions have liqueurs added to them such as amaretto or Frangelico. Affogato ice cream coffee is often served with a cookie or biscotti and the side. This delicious dessert marries hot and cold with the wonderful combination of hot espresso and cold gelato.

Tips for the Best Affogato

  • You can add a shot of amaretto, Frangelico, or other types of liqueur to your affogato to give it a boozy kick.
  • To make vegan affogato, use vegan ice cream.
  • Don't have any espresso? Use two tablespoons of good, strong coffee as a substitute.
  • If you are sensitive to caffeine, you can use decaf espresso or coffee.
  • You can choose the gelato flavor you love most: instead of the vanilla one, you can add a scoop of cream one to make the most of a good coffee, or you can try your hand with hazelnut or almond gelato, to create a nice contrast.
  • Since the recipe requires great speed of execution , crumble the amaretti biscuits and immediately prepare any other type of topping you want to use, so that you can quickly sprinkle it on the ice cream with the coffee before it all melts.
  • You can try your hand at preparing the gelato yourself, instead of buying a ready-made one.
  • Adding the espresso or coffee to the affogato should be done at the table so it can be consumed immediately.

What Coffee Should I Use for Affogato?

Affogato is typically made with espresso. If you don't have espresso, you can use any type of strong, dark coffee in its place. If you don't drink caffeine, simply swap it for your preferred type of decaf.

What is the Best Gelato to Use for Affogato?

Gelato is the gold standard for making affogato. This traditional Italian dessert is similar to ice cream but is made with less cream and typically doesn't contain egg yolks. Gelato is lighter and has a softer texture compared to ice cream. However, either ice cream or gelato will work when making affogato. The vanilla flavor is the most common, but you can use anything you like. Just make sure to use one big scoop of gelato for every shot of coffee.

Can I Add Some Toppings to the Affogato?

There are so many delicious toppings you can add to your affogato. Toasted chopped nuts, crushed biscotti or amaretti cookies, candied nuts, chocolate, chocolate-covered espresso beans, candied citrus peel, cocoa powder, caramel sauce, chocolate sauce, and more are a few ideas. You can also experiment with different flavors of gelato.

How Do You Eat an Affogato? Do You Drink It?

Serve this delicious dessert in a clear glass in order to show what it happens when coffee touches ice cream. After adding the espresso, take a spoonful of gelato and espresso and enjoy. You should eat affogato immediately, ideally before the ice cream completely melts.

Can I Make Affogato Ahead of Time?

While you can't make the full dessert ahead of time, you can definitely prep parts of your affogato to streamline things when it's time for dessert. Place the ice cream in your serving glass, then pop it in the freezer until it's time to make the affogato. This can be done a day or two in advance. Espresso and coffee taste the best fresh, so prepare it right before you plan on serving dessert.

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How to Store Affogato

Affogato should be eaten immediately. Once you add the espresso to the gelato, it will begin to melt, which means it's not suitable for storing.


Vanilla ice cream
1 scoop
brewed espresso
1 cup
dark chocolate shavings, for garnish
to taste

How to Make Affogato

First, you need to prepare a homemade Espresso, using a moka pot. Then, you'll need to scoop up the vanilla gelato.

Immediately, pour the gelato scoop inside of a glass and, while the coffee is still hot, start pouring it over the vanilla gelato.

Keep submerging your gelato with coffee, and then start drowning it in, using a spoon to help yourself.

Finally, top the affogato with some grated dark chocolate shavings. Enjoy!

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