M. Andrew Gordon

Autumn Harvest Affogato

In Desserts on November 1, 2010 at 7:55 pm

Why it is that affogato hasn’t caught on with the masses is beyond me.  The more famous espresso-soaked dessert, tiramisu, which does little for me, is damn near the universal “Italian” dessert and yet affogato suffers anonymity.  To recap, affogato at its simplest is vanilla gelato with espresso poured over it.  A more luxe version would be to plate chocolate semifreddo topped with vanilla gelato and then the espresso, which is how Parson’s Table in Winchester makes theirs.  The sweet chocolate flavors are melded with the vanilla and then amped up by the bitter roasted flavor of espresso.  I really enjoyed this dessert.

As I set about planning the menu to my dinner party last weekend I had several thoughts.  Making affogato was appealing but so too was making something with cranberries, apple, or pumpkin, the trinity of New England autumn fruits.  After several days of ruminating on the possibilities, it became apparent that I was going to tread down a murky path of exploring an unusual variation on a theme.

Standing in for the chocolate is pumpkin semifreddo.  I had never made semifreddo before this so I followed this recipe on Epicurious…sort of.  I didn’t use canned pumpkin opting instead to cook up a sugar pumpkin.  Because this is invariably going to be less solid than canned pumpkin, I set the cooked pumpkin in a cheesecloth-lined strainer overnight and then doubled the amount of pumpkin in the recipe.  I left out the crumb crust and the pecan-toffee topping since I wanted a more unadulterated appearance and taste.

Instead of vanilla gelato I wanted to try making an apple gelato.  I’ve posted about many of the ice creams I have made on these pages but I had never made a gelato, so I turned to Google and a search for “apple gelato” led me this recipe.  About all I knew I wanted was for a smooth gelato or ice cream that did not have chunks of frozen apple and since this called for adding a puree of cooked apple to the cream-egg mixture, I didn’t tinker with it too much.

That leaves the espresso component to affogato and the beauty of espresso is that the heat starts to melt everything and it adds a bitterness to the dessert.  But espresso wouldn’t necessarily work well with pumpkin and apple flavors.  The tart flavor of cranberries seemed to be the way to go.  Cranberries by themselves, though, are so damned tart that they really do need some element of sweetness to really bring out the flavor.  I finally settled on a cranberry-molasses-honey sauce to stand in for espresso.

Cranberry-molasses sauce

Makes ¾ cup

  • 5 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
  • ½ cup water
  • ¼ cup unsulphured molasses
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  1. In saucepan, combine cranberries, water, molasses, and honey.  Cook over moderate heat until cranberries begin to burst.  Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the cranberries have softened and appear sauce like.  Remove from heat and stir in lemon zest.  Let cool slightly.
  2. Puree mixture in a food processor or blender.  Strain through a cheesecloth-lined sieve, pressing on mixture or tightening cheesecloth.  Mixture should be smooth and have a texture similar to heavy cream.

To assemble Autumn Harvest Affogato, heat cranberry-molasses sauce in microwave until warm but not hot.  Cut pumpkin semifreddo into slices and place on a chilled plate.  Top with a scoop of apple gelato and drizzle cranberry-molasses sauce over both.

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  1. You, my friend, are a hero. The new site looks fantastic. I agree with you about affogato, although tiramisu does a lot for me. I make my own mascarpone, so I better like it…
    Today I made a Hot and Sour Soup with mushrooms and pork tenderloin. Do you have experience with this?

  2. Why thank you, and thanks for the thumbs up on the new layout. Perhaps I just haven’t had the right tiramisu, which is probably the case. I certainly haven’t gone to great lengths to sample it.

    As for the Hot and Sour Soup, I don’t have any experience. But I can foresee it being a good experiment for the next few months.

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