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Monday, March 15, 2010

Drowned: Ice Cream Floats Italian-Style

There is a certain chain of coffee shops where people stand in long lines for a medium double-double. In this country, people are utterly devoted to this brand and you can practically find a location on every corner. While I understand the appeal, personally, I prefer a stronger brew.

Years ago, I bought myself a little espresso machine so I could get the good stuff at home. Oh, the joy it brought me! Lattes in the morning with the paper before work, and espressos in the evening after dinner. It was civilized. But over the years, our espresso machine gave way to our programmable coffee maker. It was a simple pleasure, to hear it buzz the beans in the morning and by the time we walked into the kitchen, coffee was brewing. It was nice but not the same.

We recently discovered some of the best coffee in Toronto but it didn't come from a coffee shop. Just a guy with a roaster (so his website says) who roasts some pretty delicious stuff. We bought 2 pounds of coffee: 1 pound of a fair trade espresso roast and another pound of a fair trade dark roast. Like children, we love both our coffee machines and we spoil them rotten!

Aside from drinking it, I made a simple but luxurious dessert with our espresso: Affogato. Literally, hot espresso poured over cold vanilla ice cream. Think of it as Italy's answer to the ice C\cream float.

Affogato means drowned in Italian. It's vanilla ice cream doused in a bath of hot, freshly brewed espresso. Pure heaven. (Even if you find espresso "too strong.") The creaminess of the vanilla ice cream tempers the assertiveness of espresso and the result is a rich, velvety, creamy and bold dessert. So simple, and so divine. The only challenge with this dessert is to try to savour it before all the ice cream melts away.

When you make such a simple dessert, splurge on good quality ice cream and espresso. If you don't have espresso, brew some good quality strong coffee.

per person

Allow your guests to pour espresso on top of their desserts.

1 scoop vanilla ice cream
1 shot freshly brewed espresso (or strongly brewed coffee)

1. Scoop ice cream into dessert glass. Return the freezer while you make espresso.
2. Brew espresso.
3. Remove ice cream from the freezer and serve espresso alongside.
4. Pour espresso over ice cream and devour!

I have found the perfect proportion is one scoop of ice cream to 3/4 espresso shot.
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