Affogato al Ciliegia -Drowned in Cherries

During my travels in southern Italy, I discovered a wonderful surprise. In Torre le Nocelle, after a Sunday dinner, my cousin served up a dish of pistachio gelato drowned in rum. Another time, I received vanilla gelato drowned in cherry-flavored wine.

Herein lies a gem of Italian cuisine. Little did I know that the Affogato concept goes way beyond vanilla ice cream and coffee!

Esspresso shot on vanilla.

In Italian affogato translates to “drowned” as in gelato (ice cream) drowned in coffee.

Make this coffee and ice cream dessert by simply pouring an espresso over a scoop of vanilla ice cream. That’s it! What a simple, elegant concept.

The flavors of Affogato al Caffe are reminicent of the very best coffee ice cream. Additionally, the combination hints at the rootbeer floats we used to have as kids; the alchemy of the ice cream and coffee creates its own sort of foamy, velvety quality.

Affogato al Limoncello

The imagination soars at the possibility of drowning any flavor of ice cream with the liqueur or sauce of one’s choice.

Affogato al Limoncello

The creaminess of the melting ice cream and the bite of the liqueur makes for a symphony in the mouth.

What about ice cream drowned in a boozy Cherry Sauce?

Affogato al Ciliegie is another wonderful variation of the concept. Now that cherry season is upon us, let’s try it. In the last post, I gave you my Cherry Galette recipe with coconut whipped cream. My guess is this Cherry sauce would make a perfect addition to that dish as well.

Affogato al Ciliegie

Drown your ice cream with cherry sauce (adapted from "The Silver Spoon" cookbook)
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Course Dessert, dolce
Cuisine Italian
Servings 1 cup


  • 11 oz. cherries, pitted
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup water
  • ¼ cup Kirsch or Luxardo, optional
  • Garnish: A small piece of chocolate bar for shaving


  • Reserve a few of the pitted cherries for garnish.
    Place cherries, sugar, and ½ cup water in a saucepan. Partially cover and simmer gently until cherries are soft (about 20 minutes). Remove cherries with a slotted spoon and cool.
  • Purée the cherries with a hand blender or food mill until smooth.
  • Meanwhile, keep simmering liquid uncovered until it is reduced by half, about 10 minutes. Remove liquid from heat and let cool. Add the cherry purée and, if using, stir in the liquor.
  • Store cherry sauce in the fridge in a glass jar for one week. Serve on cakes, pies, and of course, over ice cream! Garnish with shaved chocolate and a cherry on top!


Kirsch and Luxardo are both cherry-flavored liqueurs.
Cherry delight

Want more cherry ideas? Try Dolce di Ciliegia.

Your comments are always welcome!