Affogato — it’s one of the most casually elegant desserts I can think of. The word means ‘drowned’ in Italian. In this case a creamy homemade cardamom ice cream swooning in a bath of freshly brewed espresso. Difficult to pull off? Not in the least. It’s a scoop, pour, and enjoy kind of thing. Especially when you have the right tools at your disposal, which I do, thanks to Staples. They sent me a Starbucks VERISMO BREWER to check out. Don’t tell Staples, but I was just about to buy one of these for myself ;) so the timing couldn’t have been better. I’ve been doing the whole French press thing for about a year now, and I was ready for a change to an easier cleaner method for getting my morning shot of good strong coffee. Or in this case, my nightly shot of good strong coffee.
Affogato isn’t a fancy dessert, In fact it looks a little schlumpy, but that’s the point—it doesn’t need any bells and whistles, it’s freaking amazing. What’s nice about this dessert is that it’s not over the top. Don’t be tempted to serve big bowls of it, it should be presented in very small vessels, like little juices glasses, or delicate vintage dessert bowls from the thrift store…all you need is a single scoop of great ice cream and a shot of espresso. No whipped cream on top, or cookie stuck on the side…no garnish of any kind. Such a simple concept but it tickles all the senses with flavor, contrasting temperatures, and the unmistakable aroma of fresh brewed espresso, unsweetened, of course. True affogato requires espresso, not just strong coffee, and that’s where a single serve brewer like Verismo comes in so handy. Did you know that coffee is one of the most complex flavors on earth? It’s even more complex than wine, with hundreds and hundreds of flavor compounds, and they are constantly identifying more. I. Love. Coffee.
I especially love Turkish coffee, which is strong brew boiled with cardamom pods for a deep smokey flavor. So while affogato is traditionally made with plain vanilla, I thought it would be nice to ‘drown’ a little cardamom ice cream for a change of pace. It was a good call. I always make a point to dip a teaspoon into my ice cream machine as it churns away — just to get a little sample — because all that heavy cream has a tendency to dull down flavors, and sometimes I need to make adjustments. In this case, that one little spoonful left a lingering cardamom taste in my mouth for a good while afterwards and I knew I had the perfect recipe. Spice and ice cream are a great pairing. I added a touch of instant espresso and an even smaller touch of vanilla extract just to pull it all together. You can also just use plain old vanilla from the freezer aisle, but why would you? Layering the flavors makes affogato even better.
The cardamom ice cream turned out amazingly, so don’t let it slip by unnoticed among all this coffee talk. I, for one, will be making this a lot this summer. I can’t even imagine how good it would be with some of my BITTERSWEET HOT FUDGE SAUCE poured over it. I flavor the ice cream by heating the cream and milk with cracked cardamom pods. The whole spices are fairly easy to find in larger spice aisles these days, and they really do have a fuller flavor than you would get if you just sprinkled ground cardamom in. Be sure you use green cardamom pods, the black ones are too strong.
With the Verismo you can brew a shot of espresso as you need or crave it, it dispenses single cups of espresso or regular coffee, and even has milk pods for lattes and other special drinks. I let my shot of espresso cool a little bit before pouring it over the ice cream because I didn’t want an instant meltdown, although with this machine you could literally brew the espresso right onto your ice cream.
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 10 green cardamom pods
- 1/2 tsp espresso powder (instant espresso)
- 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 shot of freshly brewed espresso for each serving
- Put the milk, cream and sugar together in a small saucepan and stir until the sugar dissolves.
- Lightly crush the cardamom pods with the back of a spoon until they crack open. Don't lose any of the little black seeds. Add the cardamom pods to the pot, seeds, and all.
- Heat the cream over medium heat JUST until it comes to a simmer. Turn off the heat and let sit for 20 minutes.
- Give the mixture a good stir, and then strain through a mesh sieve. Add the vanilla extract, cover and refrigerate until completely chilled.
- Pour the mixture into your ice cream machine and process according to the directions. In my basic Cuisinart model it takes about 15- 20 minutes.
- Spread the soft ice cream into a loaf sized pan and freeze for at least 2-3 hours until scoopable
- To serve, put a scoop of ice cream in a small glass or dish, and then top with a freshly brewed shot of espresso. Eat right away!.
This affogato was out of this world, I hope you try it. It’s such an effortless dessert, perfect for entertaining but just as perfect when you get a random craving all by your lonesome.
I’ve had my Verismo for about a week now and I’m loving it. That first great cup of coffee in the morning is truly one of the highlights of my day, all you coffee lovers out there know what I mean. All I have to do is position my mug and press a button to get a Starbucks quality latte. Even in the fanciest hotels you still have to fiddle with filter pads and wait for the machine to percolate, and the resulting coffee is never that great anyway. The Verismo gives me a little bit of luxury to start off my day, I’m hooked. It’s a big thumbs up for this machine.
* I was sent a Verismo Brewer to review, but all opinions are, of course, my own.