Affogato – Vanilla Ice Cream, Espresso, Caramel Sauce and Salted Nuts

Have any of you ever had an Affogato from Starbucks in the past couple of years? I would hear people order them but had no idea what they were. I ‘might’ do the occasional latte but I’m an Americano girl through and through so I never usually opt for the fancy schmancy drinks that are so sweet they make my teeth ache. Well, except for that fateful Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate with a shot of Espresso that inspired my Espresso Chocolate Brownie with Salted Caramel Glaze.

Before writing this post, I did some quick research and found that Starbucks Affogato is/was (might not be available anymore?) an iced frappucino with caramel sauce on top that has an espresso shot poured on top of it that supposedly helped to pull the caramel syrup down through the drink. Really? I have a better idea. Or rather, the Italians did!

Bon Appetit had a short bit about this very ‘adult sundae’ in their April issue this year, explaining that Affogato (Italian for ‘drowned’) is simply espresso poured on gelato or vanilla ice cream. Though the classic use expects hot espresso, I decided with my version to let the espresso cool down a bit; I thought it better suited for summer if the ice cream didn’t all melt into a puddle right away. This was a great, easy dessert for guests who popped in to visit unexpectedly the other day (that’s what a pretty garden gets you sometimes; we all love hanging out in my backyard!).

I don’t have an espresso machine, I simply use a stovetop Moka coffee pot, it makes just enough for this use or a couple of cups of espresso and sure does save both countertop space and the hassle of cleaning up a much more complicated espresso machine; I just love mine! The water goes in the base, the grounds reservoir then fits inside the base and then the grounds are tamped down with the flat filter. The coffeepot gets screwed on top of the base and filter and when the base is heated, the hot water is forced up through the grounds and the espresso ends up in the coffeepot on the top. Pretty simple. Pretty cool. This is actually my second pot and it’s got an electric base which is a nice convenience since the size of the base is much smaller than any of my stove elements.

I decided to make it company worthy by dressing it up a bit with some caramel and salted nuts; still it is un piatto semplice* and I hope you love it as much as I and my guests did!

*Un piatto semplice – A simple dish. Thanks to my friend Lora, the Cake Duchess, otherwise know as ‘my Italian translator!’

Affogato – Vanilla Ice Cream, Espresso, Caramel Sauce and Salted Nuts
Prep time
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A classic Italian dessert made with espresso and vanilla ice cream, gelato or sorbet.
  • Vanilla Ice Cream
  • Espresso or strong coffee, cooled to room temperature
  • Caramel Sauce - If not making your own, I've found that Dulce de Leche available in a Mexican market or foods section is the best.
  • Chopped, salted nuts - any kind. I had a container of salted, mixed nuts from Costco on hand. I thought they were perfect.
  1. Scoop ice cream into dish
  2. Pour espresso over ice cream
  3. Drizzle caramel sauce over ice cream and top with salted, chopped nuts


  1. says

    I fell in love with Affogato al Caffé in Italy and every restaurant that had it on its menu I ordered it! I love love it! I haven’t ever made one but this has me roped! I must make one this week. And now I am all weak-kneed with your addition of caramel and salted nuts! Wow!

    • Creative Culinary says

      Thanks Stephanie…you know what, it is dreamy! And I love that I have something so easy to serve that has such a European flair. Now I just have to snag a couple more of those bowls; they were bought for photos but they are perfect for this dessert.

  2. says

    Hey Barb, love your coffee pot :) This is such a simple yet elegant dessert. I looooove Nestle’s La Lechera -Dulce de Leche, that’s the one I buy here in the DR. I wonder what would happen if I used chocolate ice cream to make affogato? Would it be too much?
    I think I’m making ice cream today [practice for #baketogether] since its too hot to even think of using the oven. I’ve been dreaming about pie all week but temperature here has been crazy hot and humid. *sigh*

  3. says

    I love affogato! What is better than an espresso with vanilla ice cream? Well, your version of course with caramel sauce and salted nuts.

  4. says

    OMG – affogato. Something I’ve had only a few times in my life but which I swore to enjoy more often each time I’ve had it. Now that I’ve been reminded of how absolutely delicious it is, I’m simply obligated to create it at home :-)

    • Creative Culinary says

      So easy Lana; even for those without an espresso pot; strong coffee is a fine substitute.

    • Creative Culinary says

      I can definitely see this at one of your family gatherings or in a moment of just treating yourself..make sure you do that.

  5. says

    This looks amazing. I’d be the rude guest drinking all the liquid in the bottom of the dish after I scarfed it down. Just perfect!

  6. says

    I love your espresso pot! The clear top level makes it even nicer! What is it made of? Mine is just all metal and it gets pretty hot, so wondering what this is…Love the recipe and like BA said, it’s definitely an adult sundae! Yum! Perfect way to get my caffeine fix without sweating in the heat!

    • Creative Culinary says

      The top is a sort of lucite plastic. I had another pot that was all metal and I know exactly what you mean. The other one worked fine but I do love that this one has a base and it’s electric. The pot base of my metal one was so small; too small for any of my burners so everything got very hot, including the pot handle. This is much nicer.

      It is a lovely, simple recipe Nelly. Hope you try it!

    • Creative Culinary says

      Make your own vanilla ice cream instead! That’s my next thing; making my own ice cream or sorbet.

  7. says

    This is gorgeous – one of my favorite desserts and the pic is amazing!! You keep getting better and better each time with your photography, and it really shows. Love the composition, the styling, the colors, all of it just makes me want to take a spoon and reach in to my monitor to grab some. Yours posts seem to be bringing out my sweet tooth lately… :)

    • Creative Culinary says

      Well, coming from you, that truly is high praise. Here is one big difference. I’m devoting time; pure and simple. It does make a difference even if taking time I don’t feel I have but what’s the point of doing it at all if I don’t strive to do it well. (Gee…that sounds just like my father; he might have said it more bluntly. ‘Never do a half a**ed job!).

  8. says

    Nice! Your affogato looks amazing! One of the desserts I made at the restaurant last summer was an affogato …with donut ice cream. :) was a big hit!

    • Creative Culinary says

      The only problem with donut ice cream Chris is I fear I would find myself justifying this for breakfast. Donuts ‘in’ the ice cream? Or?

  9. says

    Your lucky guests! Affogato is simply heavenly and I remember distinctly when I was a kid and ate it for the first time. It reminds me of summer in Italy. Your version with caramel and salted nuts takes it over the top! Bravissima Barbara bella!:)

    • Creative Culinary says

      Well, thank you my dear Italian friend…and thanks for your help so I could include some Italian verbiage. Bravissima Lora bella!!

    • Creative Culinary says

      Yes it does Ken; and I’m doing my very best to not have one for breakfast…cause I could minus the caramel and nuts…but then why would I? Come on over for dessert, OK?

  10. says

    Woo hoo so glad you posted this. I made an attempt early today to make Starbucks Iced Cafe Mocha. Let’s just say my recipe needs some work. Sounds like a perfect dessert to enjoy while hanging out in the backyard.

    • Creative Culinary says

      I love the pot so that I can make my own espresso. I will add it to 1% milk with ice and either do my own version of a skinny latte or even ad a spoonful of chocolate sauce for a mocha. Not quite as good, no where near the calories though AND…right here in my kitchen. No getting dressed to go out for coffee? Yes, that is perfect.

  11. says

    This looks awesome Barb! When I worked in a French restaurant we served a similar desert called Cafe Liegeois–basically house-made ice cream(chef used either vanilla or a creme caramel flavor) doused with a hot shot of espresso. For the “family” though, we usually included some brandy or Frangelico. . .thanks for the recipe AND the memory! xo ~Nancy
    p.s. brought a batch of THE brownies w/caramel and sea salt to a pool party today, HUGE hit! Kudos again, you rock!

    • Creative Culinary says

      Nancy; you are a bad influence…now why didn’t I think of adding liqueur? :) I certainly will be doing that in the future; great idea. And glad you love the brownies; they are definitely my most favorite brownie ever!

    • Creative Culinary says

      Easy, elegant, yet a bit decadent; I think it is one perfect dessert Jamie and you must try it!

  12. says

    This looks so refreshing, it has been in the 90’s all week and nothing has even sounded good but this is something I can say would be more than tasty and wish I had some!

    • Creative Culinary says

      While rich with ingredients, it does have a lightness about it and it’s one of those desserts I wonder now…why have I never done this before?

  13. says

    That looks terrific! I never go to Starbucks (overrated and too expensive) so your affogato is the one I’d choose.



    • Creative Culinary says

      Thank you Rosa…and I would to. So much better yet so much less expensive. Now that’s what I seriously call a win-win!


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