Italian Coffee Cream | Crema al Caffè

Italian Coffee Cream is an easy, cold, frothy, eggless coffee dessert you can enjoy at the end of a meal or as an afternoon treat.

There are many traditional Italian coffee desserts. For example, the famous Tiramisu, Coffee Mascarpone Cream or Coffee Affogato made with Gelato.

Espresso has a deeply rooted tradition in Italian culture. Drinking espresso after a meal is almost a ritual for many Italians. Many consider coffee crema a summer alternative to the common espresso.

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In Italy, crema di caffè is a popular tradition enjoyed at the bar, in a small cup, on hot summer days.

Coffee Cream differs from Coffee Gelato because, although it has to be eaten very cold, it does not have the low temperature of Italian Gelato. The processing method is also different.

Thanks to this very quick recipe made with only 3 ingredients – whipping cream, espresso and powdered sugar – you can make an iced sweet Italian coffee cream at home. Like the one you can find in an Italian coffee bar.

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The secret to a perfect coffee cream is to use all the ingredients very cold. Just whip them all together with a mixer and you’re done!

The result is an extraordinary Italian coffee cream with a thick, frothy and velvety consistency. 

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How to Make Italian Coffee Cream Recipe

  • Prep Time: 5 Min
  • Cook Time: 5 Min to make espresso
  • Chilling Time: 1 hour
  • Servings: 6-8

Coffee Cream Ingredients

PLEASE NOTE: Amount for about 6-8 servings, depending on serving cup size (about 250 g/1 1/3 cup of coffee cream)

  • 200 ml (3/4 cup) of heavy whipping cream
  • about 80 ml (1/3 cup) of Espresso or strong coffee
  • 2 tablespoons of powdered sugar

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Kitchen Tools and Equipment for Making Crema al Caffè

Needless to say, to make the best Italian Coffee Cream you have ever had, first you need to make an excellent coffee. The coffee must be creamy and strong. ESPRESSO IS BEST for this recipe.

So, you need a good Espresso machine with single-dose capsules. Or the traditional – and always loved in Italy – Italian moka, (“Caffettiera” as we call it) with ground coffee.

Italian espresso cups are also important for serving coffee cream. So check out these Espresso cups for a little treat after dinner, in place of the classic espresso. Also take a look at these Italian-style Moka Cafe Espresso Cups.

Glass bowls, better if transparent, for a bigger and more substantial dose of coffee cream, a real dessert.

You will certainly find it very useful to have a cream whipping machine. Either a stand mixer or simple electric hand whisk mixer with a bowl.

Directions

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Step 1) – To make the authentic Italian coffee cream recipe, first you need to make a strong, thick and creamy coffee. We recommend making Italian espresso, using either an espresso machine or a moka (caffettiera). The coffee should be rich and strong in flavor, not watery.

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Step 2) – Pour the coffee into a glass. Add 2 tablespoons of powdered sugar and stir. Let cool completely at room temperature. Finally place in the refrigerator to lower the temperature more quickly.

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Step 3) – While the coffee is chilling in the refrigerator, whip the heavy cream with a standing mixer or electric hand whisk mixer. The whipping cream must be very cold, so do not remove it from the refrigerator earlier than necessary.

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Step 4) – When the cream is well whipped, add the sweet, well-chilled coffee. Stir for another minute so that the coffee mixes well with the cream. You should get a fairly thick cream.

Finally, transfer the Italian coffee cream to a lidded container and store in the refrigerator for at least one hour before serving.

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Storage

You can store Italian coffee cream for a couple of days in the refrigerator. But it’s best enjoyed freshly made.

Why Should you Use Very Cold Ingredients to Make Coffee Cream?

Very important for the success of this simple recipe is that all the ingredients are well chilled.

So, in addition to chilling the coffee in the refrigerator and leaving the whipping cream in the refrigerator until it’s time to whip it, we recommend that you put the bowl in which you will be whipping the cream for about an hour in the freezer.

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Is it better to Use Granulated Sugar or Powdered Sugar?

Another suggestion concerns the use of the sugar. If you use an already sweetened whipping cream (there are many on the market), you do not need to sweeten the coffee as well or at least halve the dose.

Also, you may have noticed that we recommend powdered sugar and not granulated sugar. This is because the preparation of coffee cream is very fast and takes place completely cold. Therefore, if you use granulated sugar, you might feel the grains of sugar not dissolved in the cream.

In pastry making, powdered sugar is used both for decorations and for cold and quick preparations, where it is necessary to dissolve the sugar without mixing for a long time.

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What kind of Coffee is Best for Homemade Coffee Cream?

As for the type of coffee, you can use whatever you prefer. Espresso, mocha, even decaf, or instant coffee dissolved in two espresso cups of boiling water. The important thing is that the coffee has a rich and intense taste.

A maximum of 80 ml (two espresso cups) can be used for this. If the coffee is too watered down, it would spoil the texture of the whipped cream and the coffee taste would be barely noticeable.

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How to Serve Italian Crema al Caffè

Coffee crema is usually served simply as it is, in a little glass or espresso cup.

Of course, it can be enjoyed with a teaspoon, but often, depending on the consistency, they insert also a straw.

It’s certainly possible to decorate and enrich the coffee cream, but our advice is not to overdo the addition of flavorings and ingredients. The characteristic feature of this dessert is its simplicity. The flavor of the whipped cream combined with the coffee aroma should remain a priority.

You can decorate the coffee cream cups with bitter cocoa or coffee powder, or add chocolate chips or chopped hazelnuts to give the cream a crunchy note.

These are the most popular decorations and ways of presenting coffee cream in Italy.

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Origins of Italian Coffee Cream Recipe

Like the Italian espresso, coffee cream also has Neapolitan origins.

In fact, it seems that coffee cream was born among the alleys of Naples thanks to some housewives.

They found a way not to give up the coffee tradition even when the temperature outside made it prohibitive to enjoy the hot drink.

Working the coffee with cream and sugar, they found a way to serve the cold espresso in the form of crema.

In time, the homemade preparation became professional and today it is served in every bar and restaurant in Italy.

In Naples they call this coffee cream “caffè del nonno”(grandfather’s coffee), and originally it was prepared only with the Neapolitan coffee maker.

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