Everything You Need to Know About the Two-Ingredient Affogato

The classic Italian dessert is having a major moment.

affogato
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On Thursday, June 7, Starbucks unleashed their latest creation: the Affogato Frappuccino. And though we appreciate the extra boost of caffeine (the drink is made by pouring espresso over the signature blended drink), this is far from an affogato in its truest (and, may we argue, superior) form.

Though Starbucks—and many other coffee shops around the country—are just beginning to experiment with the treat, the affogato is actually a classic Italian dessert. The name is derived from the Italian word affogare, which translates to “drowned,” and it is made by pouring a freshly-brewed shot of espresso over a cold scoop of vanilla ice cream. The two combine to create a deliciously bittersweet, hot-and-cold concoction that’s meant to be scooped, sipped, and savored as it melts and swirls together.

With the rise in two-ingredient drinks and desserts, perhaps it’s no surprise that the humble affogato is having a moment. Its simplicity makes it the perfect dinner party dessert, and it’s a refreshing (and caffeinated!) summertime treat. The dessert has spawned a number of variations—some as simple as swapping ice cream for gelato, and some as inventive as swapping espresso for matcha tea. College Hill Creamery in Wichita, KS serves theirs on a caramelized Belgian waffle, while Nico Osteria in Chicago adds alcohol to the coffee, which is then poured over a marsala, mascarpone, and dark chocolate sundae for a playful twist on tiramisu.

Our suggestion? Feel free to switch it up—but be sure not to lose the essential elements of the dessert. The liquid should be warm (try tea, hot cocoa, or spiked coffee), and the liquid-to-ice-cream ratio should remain the same. Play around with different flavors of gelato or ice cream (skip the sorbet, as creaminess is essential), but keep the contrast between the bitter liquid and the sweet ice cream base.

If you’re a sucker for espresso desserts, you’re in luck: We’ve got eight more that will get you buzzed.