How to Make a Really Great Affogato at Home

updated Sep 4, 2023
How to Make a Really Great Affogato at Home

The Italian coffee-based dessert is made with just three ingredients — espresso, gelato, and a shot of liqueur. Here's how to make it at home without an espresso machine.

Serves1

Prep5 minutes

Jump to Recipe
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Someone pouring espresso over ice cream.
Credit: Photo: Tara Donne | Food Stylist: Cyd McDowell

Some say an affogato (meaning “drowned” in Italian) is like an upgraded iced latte, but I think it’s on another level entirely. The coffee-based dessert, which is served in cafes and gelato shops all over Italy, is made with just three ingredients — espresso, gelato, and a shot of liqueur — but when the hot espresso gets poured over the cold gelato, it is pure bliss. In fact, it’s the most perfect single-serve dessert I know how to make.

With our travels to Italy currently on pause, I’m here to show you how to make the very best affogato at home (even if you don’t have an espresso machine!). Bear in mind a classic affogato is made with two cups gelato to one shot of espresso. Trust me: If you like the sound of sweet and creamy gelato mingling with the strong flavor of espresso, an affogato is the treat for you.

The Best Gelato for an Affogato

An affogato is most commonly made with vanilla gelato, though a quality vanilla bean ice cream works, too. You can even switch it up to use flavored ice creams such as chocolate or mint chip, or try coffee ice cream or mocha for an extra hit of caffeine. Better yet, make your own gelato or ice cream from scratch.

As for the ratio of gelato to espresso, a classic affogato is made with two cups gelato to one shot of espresso. But when you’re making it at home, this ratio is flexible, and can easily be adjusted based on who you’re serving.

When I was a kid, the ratio of gelato to espresso was a little (ok, a lot) higher, but watching my grandma pour the hot espresso over the cold gelato — however skimpy her pour may have been — had me hooked nonetheless.

Credit: Photo: Tara Donne | Food Stylist: Cyd McDowell

How to Make an Affogato Without an Espresso Machine

If you have an espresso machine at home, this is the method to use. Just brew a shot of your favorite espresso and pour it over your gelato. But you can still enjoy an affogato at home by using another brewing method, such as a stovetop espresso maker or a standard coffee maker (if this is the case, brew extra strong coffee). With either method, brew enough espresso or coffee for the number of individuals being served.

Credit: Photo: Tara Donne | Food Stylist: Cyd McDowell

How to Serve (and Eat) an Affogato

In my opinion, serving an affogato in a clear glass is a must — watching the espresso hit the gelato and begin to melt together is part of the experience. You’ll want to have the gelato pre-portioned into glasses and ready to go, so that once the espresso or coffee is brewed you can pour the shot over the top, add a splash of liqueur, and serve immediately.

While the traditional affogato is topping-free, feel free to add a little something before serving. I like fresh whipped cream, shaved chocolate, crumbled crunchy biscotti, or crushed hazelnuts. As for how to eat it, an affogato is best enjoyed with a spoon before sipping back the remaining espresso.

Credit: Photo: Tara Donne | Food Stylist: Cyd McDowell
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Here's how to make a really great affogato at home.

How to Make a Really Great Affogato at Home

The Italian coffee-based dessert is made with just three ingredients — espresso, gelato, and a shot of liqueur. Here's how to make it at home without an espresso machine.

Prep time 5 minutes

Serves 1

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 1 shot

    espresso

  • 2 scoops

    vanilla gelato or ice cream

  • 1 splash

    amaretto

  • Shaved dark chocolate, for serving

Equipment

  • Small drinking glass

  • Ice cream scoop

  • Espresso maker

Instructions

  1. Brew the espresso. Using your desired brewing method, brew 1 shot espresso.

  2. Scoop the ice cream. As the espresso is brewing, drop 2 scoops vanilla gelato or ice cream into a small drinking glass.

  3. Add the espresso and amaretto. Pour the espresso shot and 1 splash amaretto over the ice cream.

  4. Garnish and serve. Top with shaved dark chocolate and serve immediately.

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