The Easiest and Sweetest Summer Hosting Idea (Especially for Families)

published Jun 7, 2021
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mother and daughter making ice cream sundaes
Credit: Dana McMahan

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Helloooooo, summer! ‘Tis the season for non-cooked dinners and sweet, cold desserts. Now that we can safely gather with other folks who’ve been vaccinated, my friends and I kicked off the hot weather with a collaborative dinner. They brought a beautiful salad and we made beef tartare. The couple also brought their almost-3-year old daughter, an adventurous eater and all-around joy of a child. 

And while we wanted to make affogatos for dessert as a nod to her chef dad’s years spent in Italy, we wanted to be sure she had something special, too. Enter: the bambino-gatto. (For the record, I don’t speak Italian, despite the best efforts of the adult learning instructor in the class I took, but it seems like that actually means “baby cat”? I guess we could call it an affo-nino? Anyway, for our purposes, it’s a kid-friendly ice cream dessert!)

Credit: Photo: Tara Donne | Food Stylist: Cyd McDowell

So a typical affogato is nothing more than a couple scoops of gelato drowned in hot espresso and — optionally — a slug of liqueur. Shaved chocolate is a bonus. That sounded perfect for the four of us adults, but I wanted our teeny friend to enjoy one too.

How We Made Kid-Friendly Affogatos

Credit: Dana McMahan

Here’s what we did, and how you can make a kid-friendly affogato. Note: it doesn’t need anywhere near the number of ingredients we used; we just went overboard because it’s not our kid so we didn’t have to face the music of the sugar rush later. 

First, we gave her her own apron, because we knew it might get messy (which it did, in the most wonderful, pink-sparkles-on-the-counter kind of way). Because her favorite color (favorite anything!) is pink, I took a pink theme for hers, but you could do any color or theme. 

Then, we set up a line-up of goodies to choose from. There were two kinds of ice cream: vanilla or cream puff. (All parties involved chose cream puff!) Instead of espresso for her, we offered pink pudding or hot chocolate. She opted for pink. And for garnish we had pink sprinkles, Lucky Charm marshmallows (who knew that was a thing!?), Pocky sticks, and Biscoff cookies. She chose the little-bit-of-everything route. And in place of the adults’ Grand Marnier, we had pink snow cone syrup for her. 

We gave her the scoop and let her add the ice cream to her tumbler, which she topped with pudding. I helped her add the syrup, then she showered it in a most exuberant fashion with sprinkles. Lastly, we crowned the bambino-gatto with a Pocky and a cookie. 

With a colorful spoon and straw, she was in pink heaven. 

And the adults’ versions, which we quickly whipped up with our Nespresso, were absolute perfection. Somehow I’d never had an affogato, but now that I know the bliss of marrying luscious ice cream with a jolt of hot espresso and a splash of sweet liqueur? This needs to happen on the daily, honestly. Better, even, when you can invite the littles in on the fun!