Crema Di Caffè Is The Creamy Coffee Dessert Of Your Dreams

Coffee culture is huge in Italy, and they've created ways to drink coffee that people in the States won't usually encounter. Although hot coffee is the norm, Italy also has a variety of cold and iced coffees. However, don't travel to Italy expecting to order an iced vanilla latte with oat milk — in fact, you might not find an iced latte at all. Instead, keep an eye out for other chilled coffee drinks, like the Italian crema di caffè.

A crema di caffè is made from cold heavy cream and a strong shot of espresso. The cream is whipped with the coffee to create what's essentially coffee-flavored whipped cream in a cup. Italian coffee bars serve crema di caffè mainly during the hot summer months due to its refreshing qualities. It's served with a spoon and maybe even a luxurious dusting of cocoa powder. Crema di caffè is the perfect pick-me-up you can savor one bite at a time.

How to make crema di caffè

Making crema di caffè is exceedingly easy. It's an enjoyable recipe for a lazy day when you're not feeling like doing lots of cooking. It comes together with only three ingredients, most importantly, coffee. This coffee should come from either a shot (or more) of espresso, or coffee from a historic moka pot. It needs to be concentrated enough to not water down the cream. That brings us to the second and third ingredients, heavy cream (or whipping cream) and powdered sugar. These two balance out the strength and bitterness of the coffee by coating your tongue and providing light sweetness. 

The perfect ratio of crema di caffè's ingredients is roughly 1 cup of heavy cream, ¼ cup of coffee, and a few tablespoons of powdered sugar, according to preference. To ensure crema di caffè is cold, the coffee must first be refrigerated before it is added to the cream. Start by whipping the cream and powdered sugar together just until peaks start forming. Then whip the coffee in and allow the mixture to come to soft peaks. Scoop the cream into little glass cups and dust with cocoa powder to serve.

When and where do Italians eat crema di caffè?

In Italy, coffee is served in what is referred to as a "bar." Coffee bar rules are different in Italy than in the U.S., and drinks are consumed right at the counter, not ordered to go. For breakfast, a cappuccino and pastry are used to start the day, but besides that, coffee is always consumed after a meal. Normally, this will be a shot of espresso, or "un caffè," since many Italians believe hot milk in coffee is bad for digestion. However, the crema di caffè is a cold cream exception.

Crema di caffè is consumed after meals, just like espresso, but it falls somewhere in between a dessert and a coffee drink. Unlike espresso, it's served cold, so it's ideal for hot summer days when the peak heat of the day is right after lunch. For people who want a sweet refreshment and a boost of caffeine, crema di caffè is the way to go. Look for it churning around in slushy machines at coffee bars in Italy — you can't find crema di caffè anywhere else!

Another variation of crema di caffè

If you enjoy the concept of whipped cream and coffee (because who wouldn't?), crema di caffè has a close relative. Granita di caffè con panna is essentially frozen espresso with whipped cream. It has the same three ingredients as crema di caffè, just assembled differently. To make it, first combine espresso shots with water (the amount depends on how strong you want the coffee to be), then freeze this liquid in a shallow container. Once it's frozen, prepare whipped cream and sweeten it as desired. To assemble, just shave off fragments of the coffee ice with a fork, scoop them in a cup, and top them with fresh whipped cream!

Due to its texture resembling that of shaved ice, granita di caffè con panna provides an iciness that crema di caffè lacks. However, this treat does require more time to make than crema di caffè since the coffee mixture must freeze for several hours, so if you're looking for some instant satisfaction, crema de caffè is the better option. Cold, creamy, and caffeinated, crema di caffè might just become your next coffee fixation.