The affogato is an espresso that can sate a sweet tooth, and a dessert that carries eye-opening powers. Literally translating to “drowned” in Italian, the original rendition sees vanilla gelato drenched in piping hot espresso, but the dish’s straightforward composition also leaves room for experimentation.
Realizing the dessert’s potential for flavor play, Sirio (795 Fifth Avenue, 212-940-8195) pastry chef Monica Ng weaved together multiple components for her version while also keeping in mind the most important tricks for crafting a successful version of the dish. “When making a good affogato, the most crucial element, in my opinion, would have to be the espresso,” she explains. “It simply has to be a good, freshly brewed, strong, and aromatic espresso. Second to that would be the quality of the gelato. Anything after these will help as secondary actors would in a well-rehearsed play.”
Here, a caramel tube is decorated with toasted anise seeds and acts as a funnel for the espresso, which travels to the bottom of the bowl to meet a landslide of frozen bittersweet chocolate custard and a ring of airy Sambuca sabayon — a component that took Ng and her team a little more TLC to finesse. “The foam took a few versions to fine tune, and the end result is the silkiest and lightest sabayon we could produce,” she says. “This was also necessary because we wanted a light dish appropriate for summer time.”