In Praise of an Affogato on a Chilly Summer’s Night
Hi there. It’s currently 52 degrees in San Francisco. On average, our temperatures in the last several weeks have barely made it to 65. So maybe you’ll understand why I’m not so excited that we’re in the middle of ice cream week here in The Kitchn. And I hope you are suitably impressed by my dedication and bravery as I pull on woolly socks and sweater (seriously!) and set out to a friend’s house make an ice cream dessert I crave no matter what the temperature: The affogato.
There are few things on earth simpler than the affogato. It’s nothing more than a shot of hot espresso poured over a chilled scoop of vanilla gelato (or ice cream.) That’s it and I mean, that’s it! No whipped cream or drizzles or even, despite the popularity of the Tipsy Affogato, booze. I’m an affogato purist.
I’m making affogato at my friend’s house because he has a decent espresso machine. A good, strong, hot cup of espresso is critical (it’s 50% of the ingredients!), so go for the best quality your home can produce. A Moka pot is a less expensive, lower-tech option.
We scoop vanilla ice cream into cups and place them in the freezer. I usually prefer gelato because the lower fat and sugar content help the espresso flavor come through, but it is damn good with a nice vanilla ice cream, too. One by one, we pull espresso shots, pour them over the ice cream and hand them out. Another critical step in our affogato is to have super cold ice cream and super hot espresso.
While its simplicity is deeply satisfying to me, affogato has a complexity that is slowly revealed as it is eaten. I love how the first bite or two still holds the heat of the expresso and the way the thin, bitter coffee flavor dances with the rich buttery ice cream. I love how a lump of the ice cream remains until it eventually it melts into a thick, milky soup as I scrape the bottom of the cup with my spoon. I stop just short of running my finger around the cup and licking up the last drops. (Ha!)
I sip a quick whisky for the road, then wrap myself up in the woolies and head out the door into the damp, foggy chill that is San Francisco in August. Completely satisfied, there is nothing else I need and nowhere else I’d rather be.