Cardamom Affogato

cardamom affogato in a small glass

Cardamom affogato is a shot of espresso poured over a scoop of homemade cardamom ice cream for a simple elegant Italian dessert.

pouring a shot of espresso over cardamom affogato

cardamom affogato is a twist on a Italian coffee based dessert

The word ‘affogato’ 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. The flavors echo the wonderfully aromatic Turkish coffee which is brewed, epic strength, with cardamom pods.

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 or two of espresso. No whipped cream on top, no cookie stuck on the side…no garnish of any kind needed!

cardamom affogato in a small glass

cardamom affogato starts with homemade cardamom ice cream

Turkish coffee 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.

Of all the ice cream recipes on my site, this is definitely one of my favorites. The flavor is uniquely delicious ~ why aren’t spiced ice creams more of a thing? (When I’m not making affogato with my cardamom ice cream, I’ll probably enjoy it drizzled with some of my Hot Fudge Sauce.)

cardamom ice cream in a metal pan, with scoop

how to make cardamom ice cream

  1. I infuse that aromatic cardamom into my ice cream by heating the cream and milk with cracked cardamom pods, sugar, and a little espresso powder just to the scalding point, and then let it steep to extract the flavors. 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.
  2. Chill the mixture.
  3. Churn in your ice cream machine until thick.

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.

affogato made with cardamom ice cream

cardamom affogato is the perfect coffee dessert

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. 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.

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 that random craving for a little something extra after dinner 🙂

cardamom affogato in a small glass with spoon

more desserts for coffee lovers

cardamom affogato in a small glass
4.87 from 15 votes

Cardamom Affogato

Cardamom affogato is a shot of espresso poured over a scoop of homemade cardamom ice cream for a simple elegant Italian dessert.
Course Dessert
Cuisine Italian
Yield 8 servings
Calories 220kcal
Author Sue Moran


for the 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, or instant espresso
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract

for serving

  • a shot or two 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, along with the espresso powder.
  • Heat the cream over medium heat JUST until it comes to a simmer, stirring to dissolve the espresso powder. Turn off the heat and let sit for 30 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!.


Calories: 220kcal | Carbohydrates: 17g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 52mg | Sodium: 23mg | Potassium: 128mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 15g | Vitamin A: 681IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 59mg | Iron: 0.4mg
The nutritional information for recipes on this site is provided as a courtesy and although tries to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures are only estimates.

 cardamom affogato pin

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    Leave a Reply

    Please rate this recipe!

  • Reply
    Andrea M.
    November 2, 2019 at 2:06 am

    Sounds absolutely divine. One question though: at what point do you add the instant espresso powder? It is in the ingredient list, but I can find no mention of it in the actual directions.

    Also, could I add cinnamon to this, and if so, would you recommend ground or whole canes and how much of either?

    • Reply
      Sue Moran
      August 4, 2022 at 5:53 am

      The instant espresso is added with the cardamom pods. It will dissolve as you stir.

  • Reply
    Mathew Joseph
    February 15, 2019 at 7:55 am

    Oh this looks wonderful

  • Reply
    Green Cardamom Manufacturer
    October 13, 2015 at 11:44 pm

    5 stars
    I am also associated with MoonLite International, Turmeric powder Exporters, Coriander seeds and powder, Cumin seeds and powder India and love to enjoy the stuff on the same as its rarely found on internet. Thanks again for writing such a good post.

  • Reply
    September 11, 2015 at 7:58 am

    5 stars
    Great recipe. Thanks so much! If you’d have to add liquor to the vanilla ice cream (well, technically, you don’t have to, but want to :)) what would you recommend, whiskey or cognac (as in Irish coffee)? Does Bailey work, too, although it may be too creamy? Thanks!

    • Reply
      September 11, 2015 at 8:07 am

      Any of them would work, Quan!

  • Reply
    May 25, 2014 at 11:30 pm


    What Ice Cream Machine do you use?


    • Reply
      May 26, 2014 at 7:13 am

      I use the basic Cuisinart machine, Aisha, I think it runs around $50 give or take, and I’ve been happy with it!

  • Reply
    February 27, 2014 at 1:34 pm

    The ice cream already looks delicious but paired with the espresso…wow!

  • Reply
    February 26, 2014 at 1:33 pm

    Hi Sue, never heard of this before but just reading about this was about to make me swoon. It’s been in the 80’s hear in AZ and this sounds delightful.

  • Reply
    February 25, 2014 at 10:11 pm

    Wow! This really does look amazing. I love just about anything with Cardamom 🙂

  • Reply
    February 25, 2014 at 11:43 pm

    5 stars
    Oh this looks wonderful – a real grown up dessert. It reminds me of advice I got from a chef to try really frozen sweet vanilla ice cream with a steaming hot and sharp stewed fruit sauce (rhubarb is particularly yummy). Too cold here still to think about it, but one for warmer weather and that’s for sure. Thanks for posting it.

    • Reply
      February 26, 2014 at 5:59 am

      Ok, the thought of that hot rhubarb sauce is going to haunt me until I try it —

  • Reply
    February 25, 2014 at 3:02 pm

    5 stars
    oh my goodness, i would love this. i’m in the market for an espresso machine and have had my eye on the verismo. now i want one more than ever!

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