Brownie Sundae With Espresso

A Shavuot dessert to help you stay up all night.

Shavuot is the best holiday ever! At least, it’s the best holiday ever if three of your favorite things are butter, milk and coffee. (Spoiler alert: I am such a person. But not all three mixed together, I promise.)

Shavuot comes with its share of strange customs. Some are easier to explain than others. The Tikkun Leil Shavuot, a tradition to stay up all night long and learn Torah, makes some sense. After all, Shavuot is a celebration of receiving the Torah, so it’s fitting that we take some extra time to appreciate it. Another common custom is eating dairy foods at holiday meals, instead of the more usual cholent and chicken. Not as straightforward as learning Torah on a holiday that celebrates the Torah. However, you won’t see me complaining. With 90 degree weather looming, it seems like a very appropriate time for light dairy dishes and cool ice cream treats.

I like to combine these two separate customs into one delicious dessert. To help fortify you for your night-long Torah study (or just give you an extra boost to stay up late and shmooze with friends) and to appreciate the best part of a dairy meal (the sweet stuff!), an affogato brownie sundae is the way to go. An affogato, a traditional Italian dessert, is sort of like a root beer float. You take ice cream and you pour liquid over it–except instead of root beer you use a strong espresso. Yes.

I have taken it upon myself to improve upon the Italians by adding a bit less espresso and a bit more sweetness through the wonderful American invention, the brownie. So it goes like this: you take a scoop (or many) of ice cream. I prefer vanilla, though you can shake things up if you wish. You take a shot of espresso–or strong coffee, if you don’t have any espresso on hand. You pour the espresso over the ice cream. You crumble brownie bits on top. That is it.

Then smile quietly when your guests ooh and ahh over how fancy you are. (Just make sure you tell them it’s called an “Affogato” in the fanciest tone you can muster.)


1 tray of brownies

1 container high quality vanilla ice cream or gelato

Several shots of espresso, or about a cup of very strong coffee (cooled to room temperature)

Nuts, sprinkles (optional)


Arrange as many small glass dishes, cocktail glasses, or ice cream bowls as you have guests. Place a scoop of ice cream at the base of each dish/glass/bowl. Drizzle espresso over the ice cream. There should be about the same amount of espresso as you would use for syrup on a sundae–though you can use more or less, depending on preference. Just don’t totally drown the ice cream.

Take a brownie square and either crumble it on top or wedge it in on the side. You don’t want to put the brownie at the base of the sundae because the espresso will make it soggy.

Feel free to customize with nuts, sprinkles, etc. Enjoy!

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