I love an Affogato - a generous scoop of cold, vanilla ice cream doused in hot, strong espresso and enjoyed without delay. Of course, I love this dessert because it’s delicious, but I also love an Affogato because it reminds me of a gorgeous old, old friend and a story that makes me smile every time I hear the word ‘Affogato’.
She was fresh out of university and working as part of a graduate training programme for one of the big UK consumer goods companies. She was doing a stint at one of their factories in Leeds and at the weekend, she would travel back to London to visit her boyfriend, also fresh out of uni. On this particular weekend, he treated her to dinner at a stylish restaurant and they ended their meal with a dessert she’d never tried before, an Affogato - she loved it.
At the end of the weekend, she hopped back on the train to Leeds, filled with tales to tell of fancy dinner dates but also keen to recreate that Affogato heaven.
If you’ve ever worked in a factory (I have - it made pet food), you’ll know that there’s always a factory shop, stocked with misshapes, end of lines and bargains galore. On her return, my friend popped in to buy a few things and most importantly picked up the ingredients to create Affogatos for her fellow trainees. Except here’s the thing, cute as it might sound, a cup of Mellow Birds (from the factory shop) poured over ‘value’ ice cream (also from the factory shop) is NEVER EVER going to be an Affogato delight. Never. And indeed it wasn’t! Ugh. But 25+ years later, it still makes us both smile, we both choose it when it’s on the menu and we exchange photos of our Affogato experiences from wherever we’re enjoying dessert.
So, I think we’re clear how NOT to make an Affogato…
How do you make a sensational Affogato at home?
You need just two ingredients -
- a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream. It doesn’t need to be homemade or super expensive, but choose one that you enjoy because it’s taking centre stage here.
- a shot of hot, fresh espresso.
Scoop the ice cream into a small bowl or glass, pour over the coffee and enjoy - without delay. ‘Affogato’ translates as ‘drowned’ in Italian and that is exactly what we’re doing here.
That sounds too good to be true, I know, but it really is as simple as that.
I’m a purist and I would always choose an Affogato in its unadulterated purity but you might also -
- serve it with a little biscuit on the side
- sprinkle a few chopped nuts or grated chocolate on top of the ice cream
- experiment with the ice cream flavour (salted caramel perhaps?)
And here are my tips for making this easy dessert, even easier -
This dessert is about speed. Ice cream + hot coffee = coffee milkshake, which is delicious but you want that melting to happen while you’re devouring it, not while it’s still in the kitchen.
So particularly if you are making more than one portion, the secret is to keep your ice cream as cold as possible and to have your espresso ready just when you need it.
- Scoop the ice cream into balls in advance and freeze them on a baking tray covered in baking parchment. This truly does remove so much of the stress from the production line. Make sure that the balls of ice cream have been in the freezer for a good couple of hours so that they are solidly frozen and you will be saved from having the tub of ice cream melting before your eyes.
- Get your glasses all lined up and ready.
- If I'm just making one, I put the glass containing the ice cream straight under the flowing coffee of the espresso machine.
- Get your coffee-making process all ready to go. My espresso machine makes one shot at a time but a stovetop variety like this one, allows you to make several shots at once.
And here’s, my favourite tip, include a short drinking straw with your Affogato, to make sure that you don’t waste a drop of that resulting coffee milkshake. Yes, you can drink it from the glass but we’re dialling up the style and elegance here.
This is an easy, light, not-too-sweet, classy dessert to make at home. Just be sure to give the Mellow Birds a wide berth!Print