This week I had a strong craving for Affogato, a simple but delicious Italian dessert that is made by pouring a shot of hot espresso over a scoop of vanilla gelato. Naturally, to make this I needed vanilla gelato. So, this was as good a time as ever to break out my ice cream machine, which I had not used for a while, and make the gelato myself.

As I have mentioned before, there are a couple of styles of gelato. There is Sicilian style, which is made without eggs or cream, just a base of milk with corn starch and sugar (called crema rinforzata). And there is Northern Italian style which is made from an egg based custard made with either milk only or a combination of milk and cream. The style I prefer is usually tied to the flavor. With fruit or nuts like pistacchio, it is definitely the Sicilian, which really highlights the flavor of those ingredients, but when making vanilla I prefer a custard based gelato.

Note: If you prefer, you can replace 1 cup of the milk in the following recipe with 1 cup of cream.

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Vanilla Gelato Recipe

  • Total Time: 45 mins
  • Yield: 1 Quart 1x


  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 4 egg yolks


  1. Stir the milk and sugar together in a medium sauce pan over medium heat and add the vanilla bean. Heat until bubbles begin to form around the edges. Remove the pan from the heat and steep for 15 minutes, then remove the vanilla bean.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks together. Slowly whisk the warm milk mixture into the egg yolks and transfer the mixture back to the sauce pan. Cook over medium heat stirring constantly with a wooden spoon until mixture thickens and coats the back of the spoon, 8 – 10 minutes and remove custard from heat to cool.
  3. Once cooled. transfer the custard to large bowl and refrigerate until chilled, at least 4 hours.
  4. Remove custard from refrigerator and process in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions.
  5. If serving Affogato, scoop gelato into a bowl and pour a freshly made shot of hot espresso over the top. Serve immediately.
  • Prep Time: 45 mins

Related Recipes:
Chocolate Gelato
Pistachio Gelato
Stracciatella Gelato

4 Responses

  1. So glad to have come across this amazing Italian gelato recipe. I never knew the difference between the Sicilian style and the northern Italian. Now I know (my husband will be so impressed)

    What a great tribute to your Dad, to share these fabulous ‘treasures’ with everyone.

  2. Oh my that looks so good we had to give it a try! We tried it tonight… well we had to buy the gelato but one day we will see about making it ourselves. So we ended up skipping the first 4 instructions and went with Affogato – delicious! Thanks so much for sharing this recipe and the pic. The pic and the way you have it presented really creates the desire to try this!


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