For A Better Affogato, Chill Your Glass Before Pouring Hot Espresso Over The Ice Cream

"Ahh fuhgeddaboudit," your Italian-American New Yorker grandpa shouts, waving his hand as you slide him a pitiful half-melted affogato. It's an appropriate reaction considering that, for this Italian classic, two elements are even more important than the actual ingredients: texture and temperature. As the shot of hot espresso gently cascades over a scoop of vanilla gelato or ice cream, it's all about the interplay of hot and cold, the contrast and complement of the pooling sweet melted ice cream swirled with the rich and bitter espresso. For the best flavor, a good affogato is made with freshly made espresso, which is to say, piping hot. With the same sentiment in mind, keep your ice cream or gelato in the freezer right until you're ready to assemble the dessert, and keep your serving glass in the freezer, too. 

Similar to "up" cocktails, the affogato is a frosty dessert that's made without ice, so chilling the glassware you use is essential for best results. You don't want all of that plush ice cream to immediately melt into liquid when the espresso touches it, so the coldness necessary to protect your gelato's structural integrity has to come from somewhere. Chilling the glass can even enhance the aroma of your espresso, showcasing all those meticulously roasted, nuanced flavor notes. Plus, a chilled serving dish also just adds a touch of elegance to the aesthetic presentation — whip up an affogato in a chilled glass and dare your dinner party guests not to ooh and ahh.

We melt for this dessert, but the ice cream doesn't

An affogato is typically served in a small, shallow, cylindrical glass dish. If you don't have a designated dessert bowl that fits this description, a rocks glass works perfectly. A Collins or highball glass would work well too for a more dramatic presentation and the ability to accommodate more ice cream (nice), but keep in mind that these taller glasses might need a little extra time in the freezer to chill all the way through.

In general, a minimum of 30 minutes in the freezer is ideal for chilling a glass. If you're a regular affogato fan, it could be a good idea to start stashing a glass or two in there for easy future access. But, unless you've had both prep time and foresight, chances are you're looking to achieve a frosty chill as quickly as possible when affogato time strikes. For a fast cool-down, fill your affogato serving dish with ice, then fill it to the brim with cold tap water. The ice does the heavy lifting in terms of frosty temperature, but the water finishes the job by increasing the actual surface area that comes into contact with the inside walls of the glass. It'll chill while you pull the fresh espresso shot, and after a few minutes of icing, simply dump out the water and scoop in your gelato.