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Delightful Italian Affogato Recipe

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Yearning for a sweet, post-meal treat that is oozing with creamy, coffee-infused yumminess? My affogato recipe gives you all you need to know to make this beloved Italian coffee beverage at home.

Affogato Recipe

In this recipe, I’ll dive into what exactly an affogato is, and some of the classic variations that Italians love to serve. I’ll also lay out the equipment needed, and take you through how to make this super easy beverage-come-dessert from the comfort of your own home.

What is Affogato?

Affogato means ‘drowned’ in English. Few can argue this is the perfect name for this dish, which to this day some argue is a beverage, and others a dessert.

Also known as affogato al cafe, an affogato essentially consists of two ingredients: vanilla gelato or ice cream, and espresso. It really is that simple.

While the origins of this Italian favorite remain unclear, there’s no questioning that its popularity rose alongside the mass production of Italian gelato and ice cream during the 1950s.

Whether it’s a beverage, a dessert, or a little of both, what is for sure is that this simple combination of vanilla ice cream drowned in espresso is, quite simply, pure indulgence!

Recipe Ingredients

To make you’re very own affogato at home, you’ll only need two ingredients:

  • Vanilla Gelato/Ice Cream – 2-3 scoops per portion
  • Espresso – 1 fluid ounce of espresso per portion

You could also add optional toppings, such as chopped hazelnuts or coffee liqueur (for ideas, see the variations/serving suggestions section below).

Equipment

What you will also need to make affogato is some important equipment. To start, you’ll need a way to make espresso.

Espresso Machine – This gorgeous machine takes pride and place in our kitchen. We use our De’Longhi La Specialista Arte not only for our morning coffee but lots of coffee-based recipes that we publish.

If you’re a casual coffee drinker, I agree, this may be a little too impractical, especially if you have a small kitchen. But if you really love rich, quality coffee, and like to try different beans to get the best taste, I would seriously consider getting an espresso and coffee maker.

This really does deliver coffee-shop-level quality coffee, and you learn so much about the coffee-making process. In fact, I find making coffee this way very therapeutic.

Moka Pot – To keep things authentically Italian, brew your espresso in a moka pot. Be it a stove-top or an electric version, Italians have been making their espressos this way since the 1930s. As long as you can grind your beans or buy ground coffee, you can really savor the charm and rich flavor of espresso coffee in true Italian fashion.

AeroPress – If you need something smaller and more practical, take a look at AeroPress. This is a very travel-friendly coffee maker, and my husband and I used this for our morning brew for several years when traveling full-time. It’s simple to use, and as long as you’re okay using pre-ground coffee and have access to hot water, it’ll have your espresso or coffee ready in a handful of minutes, if that.

French Press – A French press is not ideal to travel with as it is fragile. However, if you are stationary, this is an inexpensive way to make your home-brewed coffee than an espresso machine. While the espresso won’t be quite as strong/good as one from an espresso machine, it will still work for this recipe!

Serving Glass – So traditionally, long glasses are used to serve affogato because it allows the coffee and gelato/ice cream to pool together at the bottom. However, for our recipe, we’ve gone with some deep, wide-based transparent mugs with a handle.

This is so you can both eat the affogato like a dessert, with a spoon or drink it like a tea or coffee once both the gelato/ice cream and coffee have melted enough.

Ice Cream Scoop – Lastly, make sure you have a good scoop to get the ice cream out and place it into the glass. The one we have has a release lever, to release the ball of ice cream from the scoop.

Step-by-Step Instructions

Step 1 – Scoop up 2-3 scoops of gelato/ice cream and add them to a heatproof glass mug or regular (ceramic) mug.

If you use a heatproof glass mug, it will look more appetizing as you see the gelato (or ice cream) melting as the espresso is added to it.

Step 2 – Brew the espresso and add it to the ice cream. If you’re using an espresso machine, you can simply put the heatproof mug with the ice cream under the portafilter to pull your espresso shot.

Alternatively, you can simply pour the espresso over the gelato from an espresso cup or Moka pot. This is a great option if you’re having people over and want to serve them affogato and make it right in front of them.

As you pour the hot espresso over the cold gelato (or ice cream), the gelato will slowly start to melt and the two will come together beautifully.

Step 3 – You can now serve the affogato or you can add additional toppings to it (such as chopped hazelnuts or coffee liqueur). For ideas, check out our variations/serving suggestions section below.

Ratio

I just wanted to quickly mention this, because different recipes will call for different amounts of espresso to ice cream.

Both my husband and I tried different ratios of espresso to gelato/ice cream, and we found that one shot of espresso to three scoops of ice cream was the perfect balance for us. You got the rich, earthiness of the espresso, but also the sweetness of the vanilla.

We tried two shot espresso versions with two and three scoops of ice cream, and for us, the amount of coffee was too strong, and make the taste a little too bitter (for our liking).

However, recipes online will vary, and we are in no way claiming our recipe to be traditional. This is just our preference. The nice thing is that an affogato is so easy to make once you have the equipment, you can experiment with the ratios yourself.

Variations / Serving Suggestions

To keep things traditional, you will only need espresso and vanilla gelato/ice cream. However, as with all things in life, a little variety is never a bad idea to spice things up and get creative.

If you do want to experiment with your affogato, consider adding or including the following:

Crushed Nuts – A sprinkle of crushed nuts makes for a wonderful topping. It adds a crunchy texture to the soft and creamy affogato. We used toasted chopped hazelnuts, but you could also use pistachios, walnuts, or almonds. Eat the chopped nuts with the dessert spoon (don’t drink them!).

Liqueur – Now, this is where you can keep things a little more traditional. It is not uncommon in Italy to find affogato served with a shot of some classic Italian liqueurs, such as amaretto, or other globally renowned liquors, like Kahlua.

We experimented with our affogato by adding a generous pour of Licor 35 Pastel de Nata, a Portuguese liqueur we bought from our trip to Lisbon. Yes, absolutely not traditional, but my-oh-my, that Portuguese-Italian fusion made for quite the sweet, creamy sip, I can assure you!

Biscotti – Some traditional Italian cookies are a great side to serve with affogato.

Honeycomb – Top it with some honeycomb or honeycomb crisp to take the sweetness to a whole new level.

Affogato Recipe Card

Affogato

5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
Author: Nomad Paradise
Servings: 1

Ingredients

  • Vanilla Gelato or Ice Cream – 2-3 scoops
  • Espresso – 1 fluid ounce
  • Optional toppings chopped nuts, coffee liqueur

Instructions

  • Scoop up 2-3 scoops of gelato (or ice cream) and add them to a heatproof glass mug or regular (ceramic) mug. If you use a heatproof glass mug, it will look more appetizing as you see the gelato (or ice cream) melting as the espresso is added to it.
  • Brew the espresso and add it to the ice cream. If you’re using an espresso machine, you can simply put the heatproof mug with the ice cream under the portafilter to pull your espresso shot. Alternatively, you can simply pour the espresso over the gelato from an espresso cup or Moka pot. This is a great option if you’re having people over and want to serve them affogato and make it right in front of them.
  • You can now serve the affogato, or you can add additional toppings to it (such as chopped hazelnuts or coffee liqueur). For ideas, check out our variations/serving suggestions section above.
Did you make this recipe?Mention @nomadparadisefood or tag #nomadparadisefood!

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Authors

  • Doina Johnson is a recipe developer and writer. Doina has been cooking for most of her life, and her style draws from many different influences. She cooked with her mother and grandma growing up in Eastern Europe, before adding modern, western influences to her style when living in the United States for about a decade. Then, she traveled full-time for several years, trying food in Europe, Asia, and South America, and bringing those influences into her own cooking. She strives to introduce passionate homecooks to world cuisine, generally by trying the food herself abroad and then recreating it at home and, at times, enlisting the help of local foodies and chefs.

  • Hey there! We are Dale and Doina, the founders of Nomad Paradise. We traveled full-time for over three years, and while we now have a home base in the U.K., continue to take trips abroad to visit new places and try new cuisines and foods. Our food guides are curated with the guidance of local foodies, and their contribution is indicated under each article. We also cook the foods we try abroad, and you can discover how to make them in our 'recipes from around the world' category.

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