This post may contain affiliate links.
Affogato, the classic Italian dessert, takes creamy vanilla ice cream and douses it with a hot shot of espresso for the perfect finale to a special dinner.
Affogato is common in Italy and one of those desserts that is both simple and splendid. The Italian word translates to ‘drowned,’ named for the fact that vanilla gelato is topped with, and consequently swims, in a hot espresso shot. For those that love capping off a meal with caffeine, you’ve found your dream come true!
You'll find affogato on different parts of the menu at restaurants and cafés in Italy. Some label it as a dessert, others as a beverage. With its base of gelato or ice cream, calling it a dessert makes sense. But if you call it a 'beverage' you can have it any time of day, right?
How to Make Affogato
Some of the best desserts are the simplest to make and affogato is one of them. Don’t have an espresso machine? No problem! You don’t need one for this easy affogato recipe. You’ll need good quality instant espresso powder though, along with vanilla ice cream or gelato, a little bit of heavy whipping cream and, ideally, some good dark chocolate to shave over the top.
For an elegant presentation, use small clear glasses or espresso mugs. You'll have a beautiful and easy after dinner treat in 10 minutes flat for date night or dinner party guests.
More Serving Options (Spike it or make it a Sundae!)
Want to liven up the party? Spike it with amaretto! Or if you have Frangelico, that lovely hazelnut liqueur from Canale, Italy, you can put it to good use in your affogato as well. Just about any liqueur will work beautifully!
Or how about an affogato sundae? Have a little fun with this sophisticated treat. Try swapping the vanilla ice cream for chocolate or coffee ice cream. Add crunch with chopped pistachios or crumbled biscotti, sweetness with brownie chunks or a drizzle of buttery caramel sauce. And always finish with a dollop of whipped cream!
More Classic Italian Recipes
- Chocolate Panna Cotta (A chocolate riff on the classic Italian dessert.)
- Pasta Aglio e Olio (The classic pasta dish that's date night elegant and weeknight easy!)
- Lemon Garlic Pasta (A lightened up version of Pasta al Limone.)
- Lemon Garlic Shrimp Pasta (Like the recipe just above, but with succulent shrimp!)
Easy Affogato Recipe
- ⅓ cup cold heavy cream
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ cup boiling water
- 1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
- 1 pint vanilla ice cream
- finely shaved chocolate for garnish, optional
- Combine heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla extract in a medium bowl. Whip until cream reaches medium peaks using a hand mixer on medium-high, 2 to 3 minutes. (Recipe notes #1 and #2)
- Scoop ½ cup of ice cream each into 4 small glasses or dessert bowls.
- Whisk together boiling water and espresso powder in a 1-cup glass measuring pitcher until espresso powder dissolves.
- Pour 2 tablespoons of hot espresso over each serving; top with whipped cream and chocolate shavings (optional). Serve immediately.
- You can also do this by hand whisking vigorously with a wire wisk.
- Whipped cream can be made a few hours ahead. Store covered in the refrigerator until ready to serve.