The first time I tried an affogato, I wondered why I had not heard of this wonderful delight much sooner in my life. For those who don't know, and affogato is a scoop of ice cream paired with a shot of espresso. You pour the shot of espresso over the ice cream and enjoy one of the best food pairings of all time. The pair seems so unlikely, yet so was chicken and waffles until your first tasted it, and you were sold. The bitter and sweet tastes with the temperature change are something to experience. The standard ice cream used is vanilla bean, and vanilla on its own is acceptable, yet why stop there. Over the years, I have tried a lot of combinations, and here are my top favorites.
Pistachio. This nutty-flavored combination is one of my favorites. Pistachios tend to be reasonably light in flavor compared to other nuts, and when made into ice cream from the right company, the flavor balance is impressive, quickly becoming one of your favorites.
Peach. Ripe for the summer, peaches are known to pair exceptionally well with tea, yet an unlikely pairing is with a shot of espresso. The sweetness of the peach and the dark, rich flavor of the espresso matches nicely. Similar to dark chocolate peach truffles, the pairing takes your taste buds on a lovely summer trip that ends in a caffeinated satisfaction that is worth booking a return trip.
Jasmine Tea. The fresh and fragrant scent of jasmine tea gelato or ice cream is pleasant on its own, and when paired with espresso, is nicely balanced. This pairing isn't for everyone, as some of us don't like jasmine tea, and if that is the case, you won't like this pairing either, yet for those who do, taste the jasmine tea first, and then the espresso to see the flavors develop. It is something different and can be appreciated by tea and coffee lovers.
Spicy Chocolate. Mochas are among the most popular espresso drinks of all time. Picante mochas are not so well known and become popular in the wintertime. The flavor heat from the spices pair exceptionally well with chocolate, as well observed from the TCHO flavor wheel, and adding espresso to the party will add a plethora of flavor options. Smokey to herby chili or even increasing richness. With this selection, the full spectrum of chocolate flavors opens many doors you never knew were there. For beginners, go with sea salt or Aji Panca, which is very light with a respectable kick for those sensitive to heat.
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