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Gelato Affogato: the Dreamiest After Dinner Summer Treat

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Picture this: it’s one of those deliciously sweltering summer evenings and you’re craving something sweet, yet simple after dinner. Gelato affogato is the answer. This perfect marriage of bold decaffeinated espresso and creamy gelato is sure to satisfy your after-dinner sweet tooth without the hassle. All you need for this effortless summer treat is your favorite gelato and a fresh shot of espresso. Decaffeinated espresso works beautifully for an evening treat that won’t keep you up all night. 

Gelato affogato translates to “drowned gelato” and is totally worthy of drowning in. This Italian dessert is, very simply, a shot of espresso poured over a scoop of gelato. It’s meant to be eaten as the hot espresso melts into the gelato, creating a delectable puddle that is equal parts creamy and bittersweet. Traditionally, vanilla bean is the flavor used for affogato, but chocolate, hazelnut, or stracciatella gelato would also be wonderful drowned in espresso. 

Some affogato lovers swear by scooping and refreezing the gelato beforehand, ensuring the gelato is ice-cold and will hold up against the hot espresso. If preparing this treat for a larger group, try scooping out gelato balls onto a sheet tray and freezing until needed for serving. Another trick to keep the gelato cold without refreezing the scoops is to freeze your serving glasses before serving. For the spontaneous at heart, however, using gelato straight from the pint and glasses directly from the cupboard doesn’t detract from the glory of this dessert. 

Once you’ve mastered the basics of gelato affogato, there are countless ways to spice up the traditional recipe, if you so please: 

  • Top with fresh whipped cream (whipped cream with frozen treats is never wrong).
  • Serve alongside your favorite butter cookie, biscotti, or biscuit cookie (like ladyfingers). Nearly anything that you like to dunk in your espresso, you’ll love to dunk in your affogato.
  • After scooping and refreezing your gelato balls, roll them in toppings. Crushed coffee beans, chopped nuts, honeycomb, and praline are all delectable but don’t be afraid to experiment.
  • Use spiced espresso for your affogato by brewing your espresso with cardamom or cinnamon.
  • Spike your espresso with sambuca, amaretto, or bourbon.

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