Tartufo (Italian Ice Cream) Recipe

Tartufo (Italian Ice Cream)

The Spruce/Cara Cormack

Prep: 25 mins
Cook: 3 mins
Freezing/Set Time: 4 hrs 10 mins
Total: 4 hrs 38 mins
Servings: 6 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
654 Calories
42g Fat
73g Carbs
7g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6
Amount per serving
Calories 654
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 42g 54%
Saturated Fat 26g 131%
Cholesterol 34mg 11%
Sodium 159mg 7%
Total Carbohydrate 73g 26%
Dietary Fiber 5g 17%
Total Sugars 56g
Protein 7g
Vitamin C 1mg 6%
Calcium 123mg 9%
Iron 2mg 12%
Potassium 435mg 9%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Tartufo, meaning truffle in Italian, is a frozen summer dessert originating from Pizzo in the region of Calabria, Italy. The name refers to its resemblance to the luxurious fungus found underground. Created in the early 1950s by a confectioner’s assistant known as Don Pippo, tartufo was originally made with chocolate and hazelnut ice cream with a chocolate sauce center. When Don Pippo ran out of gelato bowls at a wedding, he coated the dessert with cocoa powder and wrapped each one in paper. Since then, tartufo has taken on many forms. It is typically composed of two flavors of ice cream with a nut or fruit center then coated with chocolate cookie crumbs, cocoa powder, or a chocolate shell.

This variation is made with vanilla and pistachio ice creams, maraschino cherries in the center, magic shell, and chocolate cookie crumbs, but feel free to use whatever flavor ice cream you like, and the cherries can easily be substituted with another fruit or nut center. This dessert is super-easy and can be made in bulk in advance and kept in the freezer so it makes for a perfect dinner party or a cold dessert on a hot day.

"The tartufo was pretty and delicious. Round 5-ounce dip bowls or bowl-shaped ramekins would be excellent for perfectly round domes, but regular ramekins worked just fine. The flavors were perfect and the magic shell was easy to make. I'm sure you could use milk chocolate in the magic shell if you prefer it." —Diana Rattray

Tartufo (Italian Ice Cream) Recipe (pistachio ice cream)/tester image
A Note From Our Recipe Tester


Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    ingredients to make Tartufo

    The Spruce/Cara Cormack

  2. Let the ice creams stand at room temperature for 10 minutes to soften slightly. Line 6 small (about 5-ounce) ramekins or bowls with plastic wrap.

    two pints of ice cream and six plastic lined ramekins

    The Spruce/Cara Cormack

  3. In a food processor, grind the chocolate wafer cookies. If you don’t have a food processor you can place the cookies in a sealable plastic bag and use a rolling pin to crush them as fine as possible. Place the crumbs into a medium bowl and set aside.

    crushed wafer cookies in a bowl

    The Spruce/Cara Cormack

  4. Using a spoon scoop some vanilla ice cream into each plastic-lined ramekin about halfway full.

    vanilla ice cream in ramekins

    The Spruce/Cara Cormack

  5. Place a cherry on top of the ice cream in the center of each scoop.

    scoops of vanilla ice cream in ramekins with a cherry on top

    The Spruce/Cara Cormack

  6. Scoop enough pistachio ice cream over the cherry to fill the rest of the ramekin.

    scoops of pistachio ice cream in ramekins

    The Spruce/Cara Cormack

  7. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of the cookie crumbs to cover the surface of the pistachio ice cream and pull the edges of the plastic wrap together to close. Freeze for at least 3 hours.

    scoops of ice cream in ramekins covered with plastic

    The Spruce/Cara Cormack

  8. Meanwhile, make the magic shell by melting the chocolate in a large microwave-safe bowl at increments of 45 seconds, giving a little stir between heatings. When it is almost completely melted take it out of the microwave and stir using the residual heat to melt the rest.

    melted chocolate in a bowl

    The Spruce/Cara Cormack

  9. Add the coconut oil and whisk until completely combined and smooth.

    coconut oil in a bowl with melted chocolate

    The Spruce/Cara Cormack

  10. Take the ramekins out of the freezer and unwrap each tartufo, placing them cookie-crumb-side-down on a wire rack over a parchment-lined rimmed sheet tray.

    frozen ice cream balls on a wire rack

    The Spruce/Cara Cormack

  11. Pour the magic shell over each dome of ice cream to completely coat. Tap the sheet tray on the counter lightly to shake off any excess chocolate.

    chocolate covered frozen ice cream balls on a wire rack

    The Spruce/Cara Cormack

  12. Carefully lift each tartufo off the wire rack using a small offset spatula and gently place them one at a time in the bowl of cookie crumbs. Roll the tartufo to coat, gently pressing the crumbs into the chocolate, if necessary, to make them stick.

    tartufo in a bowl of chocolate wafer cookie crumbs

    The Spruce/Cara Cormack

  13. Place them on a plate and freeze for 1 hour before serving. Or wrap each one individually in plastic wrap and store them in a large air-tight container in the freezer until needed.

    tartufos on a plate

    The Spruce/Cara Cormack

Recipe Tips

  • If your ice cream is quite soft, layer both flavors as directed, then freeze for about 30 minutes before adding the cherries and crumbs. Remove the ramekins from the freezer and poke a cherry into the center of each ice cream portion. Top with cookie crumbs, freeze for 3 hours, then proceed with steps 8 through 13.
  • If the weather is warm, chill the ramekins in the fridge or freezer before you begin.
  • When coating a tartufo with the magic shell and cookie crumbs, work quickly so the crumbs will adhere. Return finished tartufo to the freezer immediately.

How to Make One Large Tartufo

If you don’t have small bowls or ramekins to use as molds, you can:

  1. Use one large bowl to make a large tartufo and cut it into slices for serving.
  2. Place a piece of plastic wrap on your work surface, sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of cookie crumbs, then fill a large ice cream scoop with half vanilla and half pistachio ice cream and a cherry in the center. Then release the scoop on top of the cookie crumbs, dome side up. Pull the corners of the plastic wrap together and twist to keep it in a ball shape. Then continue with steps 6 through 12.

Recipe Variations

Feel free to get creative and personalize your tartufo!

  • You can use any ice cream flavor(s) you like
  • Fill the centers with another fruit, nuts, or a sauce like chocolate or caramel.
  • You can also cover the tartufo with finely chopped nuts or sprinkles instead of cookie crumbs, or just leave it off altogether and go straight chocolate shell or cocoa powder.

How to Store Tartufo

Freeze tartufo until just before serving. Once the tartufo are frozen solid, they may be kept in airtight containers or a resealable freezer bag. Freeze them for up to 6 months.

What does tartufo mean?

The word tartufo means "truffle." The Italian tartufo dessert is meant to resemble a truffle.