The Absolute Best Vanilla Ice Cream For Affogato

For the past two to three years, my husband, Jake, would sporadically surprise me with an after-dinner affogato. He'd treat our guests to homemade lattes and affogatos whenever we held dinner parties. So, who better to ask what the best vanilla ice cream for affogato is than Jake? His answer? Hands-down, to keep the experience authentic, a gelato, and to unsully the espresso's flavors, a vanilla one. The affogato, a classic Italian dessert that elegantly pairs two culinary champions — espresso and gelato (or ice cream) — into a single, delicious experience, becomes an instant delight for the palate. Robust hot expresso meets the creamy sweetness of ice cream, striking a perfect balance. Sip it, spoon it; however you savor it, it goes down smooth; sometimes, one serving doesn't feel like enough. 

The magic ratio for affogato is two scoops of gelato or ice cream to a double shot of expresso. Any less ice cream than that, and the expresso will taste too bitter for many. As for what's the best brand of vanilla gelato to use for affogato? Talenti Gelato's Madagascan Vanilla Bean flavor comes to mind as it is accessible across U.S. supermarkets and grocery stores and is a widely-known gelato brand. 

If you can't find gelato locally, ice cream is an excellent substitute, and the best vanilla ice cream to use for affogato is Jeni's Ice Cream in Honey Vanilla Bean flavor.

Crafting the ultimate affogato experience is about personalization

Jeni's ice cream has surprisingly complex flavors, a good texture, and is creamy and easy to scoop, making it an ideal companion to expresso. It's also made with Fair Trade vanilla beans, and Jeni's Ice Cream was woman-founded by James Beard Awardee Jeni Britton.A close contender as the absolute best vanilla ice cream for affogato is Häagen-Dazs Vanilla Bean. With its rich sweetness and velvety texture, Häagen-Dazs Vanilla Bean beautifully complements and balances expresso shots. 

When made at home, affogato is for personal enjoyment and allows for creativity. Affogato purists may say you must use vanilla gelato. But across the U.S., vanilla gelato is not always easily accessible. So, use vanilla ice cream. And while you're at it, why not try affogatos with lavender, chocolate, coffee, Oreo, or other flavors of ice cream? Add a drizzling of chocolate or caramel sauce and a sprinkling of sea salt flakes for an extra indulgence. As for those who crave a boozy finish, try a little Drambuie, Frangelico, or Kahlúa liqueur on top; it'll go a long way. As for me, I love my affogato with almost any ice cream, as long as it also comes with a mountain of whipped cream on top.