Whether it's a hot summer day or a chilly winter night, you can never go wrong with affogato. What is affogato, you ask? It's perhaps the easiest, yet deceptively delicious Italian dessert you'll ever try. Unlike the never-ending layers of tiramisu or the countless steps involved in making authentic cannoli, simply run to your freezer for some ice cream and brew some espresso, and you'll feel like a sophisticated, adventurous foodie in no time.

What Is Affogato?

As a long beloved dessert in Italy, affogato traditionally consists of hot espresso poured over silky vanilla gelato. Pronounced "ah-foh-gah-toe," the pure essence of the dish is summed up in its name, which directly translates to "drowned" in Italian

Additionally, according to the Cambridge English Dictionary, affogato can also mean sundae or float. This translation led me to discover another beloved Italian dessert, called affogato all’amarena in Italian. This is yet another dish that speaks wonders for the simplicity, yet sophistication, of these dishes.

In English, this dish is known as a Black Forest Affogato and was popularlized in the United Kingdom by none other than Chef Jamie Oliver. His show "30-Minute Meals" introduced Britain to the delectable dish and prompted many home chefs and restaurants to create their own versions of the dish.

However, affogato didn't make it onto the American culinary scene until 1992. Despite its late start, it quickly swept the nation to become a staple of '90s food. Since then it's been raved about in the Los Angeles Times, and even inspired the Starbucks' 2016 seasonal menu.

How to Make Affogato

Affogato is as simple as it appears. There is no science behind pouring a shot of espresso over a scoop of creamy gelato. While there are recipes out there, nearly anyone can make this easy dessert sans directions.

If you're feeling bold, you can easily customize your own flavor combination. Inspired by Jamie Oliver's "Ultimate Affogato Recipe" and Tastemade's renditions, I discovered the never ending and abundantly creative combinations to make every affogato your own.

Instead of vanilla gelato or ice cream, maybe give flavors such as chocolate, cookies and cream, coconut, or dulce de leche a try. If you're feeling extra adventurous, try a unique fruit sorbet from the stonefruit family like peaches, plum, apricot, or berries. 

Still wanna add your personal touch to this lovely dessert? Try swapping out hot espresso for a shot of cold brew, caramel iced coffee, mocha, or even matcha tea.

Finally, add some flair by topping your affogato off with chocolate shavings, whipped cream, chopped, toasted, or candied nuts, a caramel drizzle, hot fudge, or chocolate-covered espresso beans.

All parts of affogato are customizable to suit your taste buds. With such an open-ended definition, your dessert can be transformed into many different varieties.

Whether you're taking it old school with vanilla gelato and hot espresso, or leading a dessert revolution with dulce de leche ice cream and caramel iced coffee, affogato is a go-to dish that brings pride to the Italian cuisine. So, what is affogato? Your new favorite dessert.