Affogato Pizza Express

Affogato‘ is a funny term in Italian cuisine. Its original use is taken to mean ‘drowned,’ but was historically used to indicate poached foods. It is only later, in the 1950s, that the same word was used to describe warm coffee poured over cold ice cream or ‘gelato.’

The dish enjoys a peculiar status as part dessert, part beverage, and Italians can be seen drinking molten affogato through straws in cafés all over the country.

The version described here is close to that offered by the UK’s Pizza Express chain, and has lovely addition of salted caramel. We have made the ice cream from scratch, but that is not really necessary.

Affogato Pizza Express

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By Pizza Express Serves: 1 with lots of ice cream left over
Cooking Time: Half a day if making ice cream; 10 mins if not


  • For the ice cream:
  • 300ml full fat milk
  • 300ml double cream
  • 30g liquid glucose
  • 1 vanilla pod, split with seeds scraped out and reserved
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 90 g caster sugar
  • For the salted caramel:
  • 175g brown sugar
  • 300ml double cream
  • 50g butter
  • Half tsp salt
  • To finish:
  • 1 fresh double espresso, warm
  • 1 Lotus biscoff



To make the ice cream:


Put the milk and cream in a pan, bring to the boil and remove from the heat. Stir in the glucose and vanilla seeds. Set aside.


Beat the egg yolks and sugar until fluffy and pale (use a stand mixer).


Reheat cream a little (just to make it flow, but not enough to scramble the eggs) and add it to the bowl with the eggs while whisking (just run the stand mixer and slowly put the cream in).


Scrape mixture back into the pan and heat slowly to 82˚C (use a thermometer) to thicken to coating consistency – do not boil or it will split). Strain to remove lumps and cool with some cling wrap on the surface to prevent skinning.


Churn the ice-cream in a machine, transfer to a plastic carton and freeze.


To make the salted caramel:


Heat the whole lot over low until sugar dissolves. Up the heat and bubble until syrup. Cool to store. Re-warm to serve, but not hot.


To serve:


Place a scoop of ice cream in a dish. Drizzle over some warm caramel, and stick the biscuit on the top. Serve the warm coffee in a small jug on the side to pour over immediately before eating.


Obviously, this recipe is made much simpler by buying your ice cream, making the caramel (because that is dead easy) and giving the espresso job to a bean-to-cup machine. Pizza Express probably use a gelato – our recipe uses traditional ice cream.

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