Satisfy the kid and adult in you with this easy-to-make Salted Caramel Affogato (coffee float). Hot espresso coffee is poured over salted caramel sauce and vanilla ice cream, causing the ice cream to "float", creating an explosion of sweet and salty flavor. It's the perfect indulgent ending to any meal!
Did you love making ice cream soup as a kid? Let me explain. You used your spoon as a hacking device and pounded your ice cream until it was a uniform bowl of the creamiest ice cream ever? Well, an affogato is like that, but sophisticated!
This is the easiest frozen dessert ever. This salted caramel affogato recipe uses store-bought ingredients because let's face it- you want dessert now!
And just like my espresso panna cotta, you will want to use a bold-flavored coffee to hold up against the sweetness of the ice cream. So grab a spoon, and lets make an affogato!
What is an affogato?
Affogato al caffè is an Italian dessert that when translated means "drowned coffee". It's similar to a coffee float in that freshly brewed espresso coffee is poured over ice cream, causing the ice cream to "float" and the hot and cold to mix.
The result will be a semi-soft ice cream, with pools of coffee mixed in. It's traditionally served post-meal, but can be enjoyed anytime.
Since coffee and ice cream are the stars here, use a good quality coffee and ice cream for the best taste.
- Coffee- Freshly brewed. You can use regular coffee or espresso, caffeinated or decaf. Espresso will have a bolder flavor profile.
- Salted caramel sauce/topping- Store-bought (this is meant to be simple guys). If you can't find salted caramel, you can add some Kosher or flaky sea salt to a plain caramel sauce. You can usually find these in the grocery store near the ice cream toppings or they are readily available online. I love this salted caramel sauce from Ghiradelli.
- Vanilla ice cream- Vanilla is best so it doesn't overpower the coffee.
- Crushed cookies or wafers for topping (see additional toppings below).
See recipe card for quantities.
How to make a salted caramel affogato
This recipe is as easy as it gets. No-bake, no-fuss, no problem. Use a good strong coffee and your favorite vanilla ice cream.
- Add caramel to a dessert glass or bowl.
- Add 2-3 scoops of vanilla ice cream.
- Pour freshly brewed coffee over the top.
- Garnish with cookies, chocolate, or additional caramel. Serve and enjoy!
Fun serving suggestion: When serving affogato to a crowd, serve the coffee on the side, so that each guest can pour their coffee over the ice cream. It will remain fresh this way and make each guest feel like a mini-chef!
How to customize your caramel affogato
We love this caramel affogato just the way it is, but you can make a few simple changes to fit your diet or budget.
- Coffee - You could use a cold brew in place of the espresso. Just be sure to heat it before pouring it over the ice cream.
- Ice cream or gelato- Vanilla is a nice neutral base, but you can amp up the caramel flavor by using salted caramel ice cream. Chocolate ice cream could also work. Feel free to use dairy-free or gluten-free ice cream to suit your diet. You can also swap out the ice cream for vanilla frozen yogurt.
- Caramel topping- If you can't find salted caramel sauce, you can add sea salt, or Kosher salt to regular caramel sauce, or just add a pinch to the top right before serving.
Affogato dessert toppings
This ice cream coffee float can totally stand on its own, but for me, it's all about the accouterments. Yep, that's fancy talk for all the toppings!
- Biscotti- Think of it like dunking a cookie in your coffee! Serve them whole or crushed on top.
- Amaretto cookies- Another Italian favorite cookie. Adds an almond flavor.
- Ladyfingers- These Italian biscuits are traditionally used in Tiramisu, another Italian coffee dessert. They would pair perfectly here.
- Crushed waffle cones- It is ice cream after all!
- Caramel wafers (Stroopwafels) - Sweet round waffle cookies with caramel filling? Yes please!
Make it boozy- Add a splash of Italian liqueur such as Amaretto, or Frangelico (a hazelnut liqueur). Or top it off with good old-fashioned Irish Cream (Bailey's).
This no-bake dessert is as easy as it comes. You just need a coffee maker to brew your coffee and a serving glass.
Sorry, it must be eaten right away!
Serve up your affogato in a pretty clear glass if you have one. When you see the coffee mix with the ice cream and the caramel, it's a sensory explosion that adds to the experience!
You will want to serve your affogato with a spoon. The consistency will be slightly runny when the hot coffee hits it, but you still want to be able to eat it with a spoon.
Traditional affogato uses a neutral-flavored ice cream called "fior di latte", which translates to milk ice cream. However, vanilla ice cream or gelato is the perfect base for your affogato and pairs wonderfully with coffee.
Looking for other no-bake desserts?
Salted Caramel Affogato
- coffee machine
- dessert glasses
- ice cream scoop
- 2 shots (4 ounces) freshly brewed espresso, (about ½ cup)
- 2 tablespoon salted caramel sauce, plus additional for serving can use regular caramel sauce or topping
- 4-6 scoops vanilla ice cream or gelato
- Biscotti or cookies for serving
- sea salt, optional
- Brew espresso or coffee as per your usual method. Have 2 shallow dessert bowls ready.2 shots (4 ounces) freshly brewed espresso, (about ½ cup)
- Divide the salted caramel sauce between the 2 bowls.2 tablespoon salted caramel sauce, plus additional for serving
- Add 2-3 scoops (each) of vanilla ice cream to the bowls.4-6 scoops vanilla ice cream or gelato
- Evenly pour the hot coffee over the ice cream. Top with biscotti, cookies, additional caramel, and sea salt if using. Serve immediately.Biscotti or cookies for serving, sea salt, optional