It turns out that gelato drowned in espresso serves a wonderfully practical purpose in my kitchen. And we really should discuss the name for a moment. Affogato, "to drown," is a lovely idea. Espresso poured over chilled gelato pools at the bottom of your glass, only to be swirled onto your spoon with a dollop of freshly whipped cream. It's such a satisfying bite.
Now, to the espresso. I have this gift of a problem, really. Over the past two years, my husband has become a talented, live-in barista. We have the espresso machine, the burr grinder, and he's mastered the golden crema. All that's missing is latte art, his current project, which is really just bells and whistles. Our weekend mornings always begin with latte's (mine with a touch of vanilla) and a long conversation. It's a perfect coffee shop experience for two. That's the problem. For two.
Because latte's require more effort than simply stumbling out of bed and pressing a button, preparing them for a group (say as the perfect ending to a dinner party) is entirely impractical. Start to finish, one latte takes approximately seven minutes. Multiply that by the number of people at your party, and you can see my dilemma. There is the counter prep, the grinding, the frothing at the perfect temperature, the tamping, and the pouring. So, until we have the space to invest in a fancy industrial machine that steams milk in less than 10 seconds, we share Andrew's talent with fewer people than we'd like.
Which brings me to affogato. It simultaneously fulfills the coffee and dessert course of any meal. The seven minutes it takes to make a latte is reduced by the mere fact that milk doesn't need to be frothed, and a double shot is enough for at least four, maybe six servings.
1 pint deeply chocolate gelato (recipe follows)
2 shots freshly brewed espresso
Freshly whipped cream
In ice cream bowls or martini glasses (depending on your mood), add a generous scoop of gelato. Drizzle on about 2 tablespoons of espresso and top with a dollop of freshly whipped cream.
INA'S DEEPLY CHOCOLATE GELATO
For convenience, I chose to pour the eggs into the chocolate right on the stove, rather than the other way around as the original recipe suggested.
From Ina Garten
2 1/4 cups whole milk
1/3 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup sugar, divided
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
4 large egg yolks
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
In a 4-quart saucepan, heat the milk, cream and 1/2 cup sugar over medium-low heat until the sugar dissolves and the milk begins to simmer. Add the cocoa powder and chocolate and whisk until smooth. Remove from heat.
Place the egg yolks and the remaining 1/4 cup sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on high speed for 3 to 5 minutes, until light yellow and very thick. With a whisk in one hand, slowly pour the eggs into the chocolate and whisk vigorously until combined. Place the custard back on the heat and cook over medium-low for several more minutes, stirring constantly, until thickened. A candy thermometer should register 180 degrees F.
Pour the custard through a sieve into a large bowl and stir in the vanilla and a pinch of salt. Place plastic wrap directly over the top and chill completely. Churn in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions and freeze for several hours prior to serving.