It's no big secret that my kryptonite is ice cream and gelato. No matter how much I've eaten and how stuffed I am, there is always room for ice cream. A few years ago I discovered Tartufo, an amazing Italian dessert, and a few days ago I thought I'd give it a try myself.
In Italy tartufo has a double meaning. It translates as "truffle"; both the "fruiting body of an underground mushroom" and a gelato dessert. I'm obsessed with both. Although the mushroom version may not sound appetizing by it's description (or their looks, for that matter),they have such a flavorful, distinctive taste that I can't get enough of! A few years ago, while traveling around Italy with some friends we were lucky enough to visit Alba during it's Truffle Festival.
I almost passed out from happiness of being in truffle heaven! We could not afford to buy any, but I did pick up some truffled honey and truffle salt. To find out more about truffles and their interesting history, click here. After all, they are not type of tartufo this post is about!!
So, let's get back on track with the ice cream. Well, to be as authentic as possible, it should actually be gelato, if you can find it. I was only able to locate vanilla gelato. Ice cream is fine to use, as well. You can use many different flavor combinations, but tartufo traditionally have a fruit/nut center or fruit juice in the center. I was not about to try working with juice, the ice cream was more than enough to handle...finding the melted-yet-not-quite-melted temperature was a challenge. So, I chose simple vanilla and chocolate gelato/ice cream with a maraschino cherry center. It can have a chocolate coating, a crushed chocolate cookie/chopped chocolate coating, or even cinnamon or powdered cocoa. My favorite is chocolate coating with a cherry center. So that's where I started!
To start, here's a Don't Do list:
1. Don't let the ice cream become TOO soft. I found it best to work while the ice cream was hard enough it was difficult to scoop and it made my wrist hurt a teeny tiny bit.
2. Don't use a scooper that doesn't have a spring release. I didn't the first two times and it was a mess trying to get the ice cream out of the scoop.
3. Absolutely do not remove the filled-and-scooped ice cream from the freezer until it's completely hardened. I found it was best to let it sit overnight. If it's doesn't become firm enough you will get...you guessed it, a mess!
Scoop your ice cream/gelato so you half of a ball. Use a wooden spoon or some other object to poke a hole in the middle. Don't go all the way down! Fill it with whatever you have chosen. I chopped up some cherries and mixed them with chopped chocolate bits and almonds.
Once you have added filling to the half scoop, round it out and "spackle" the hole with ice cream. You can top off the scoop with the same flavor ice cream or you can add an additional one, as demonstrated in the photo below. One scoop is all vanilla, one is chocolate AND vanilla, and the third is all chocolate (I'll get to the coating of the chocolate scoop in a moment). Place them on a cookie sheet lined with parchment or waxed paper and place in the freezer until they are completely hardened.
The first of the two ways I chose to coat my tartufo is a hard chocolate shell. Melt 4 squares of semi-sweet chocolate with 1 tablespoon of canola or vegetable oil.
For my first attempt I chilled the scoops for 4 hours. I removed them from the freezer and placed them on a wire rack with waxed paper underneath.
Then I spooned the chocolate over the ice cream balls, trying to cover them completely. This proved difficult, as it became apparent I hadn't had them in the freezer long enough. They melted super quickly. After the first coating, I placed them back in the freezer for about 20 minutes, removed them and coated again. Back into the freezer they went for 15 minutes and then I picked them up and dipped the bottom of the scoops in the runoff melted chocolate on the waxed paper so they would be completely coated.
Well, they turned out rather...uhm...ugly.
The insides looked like carnage! Yuck.
I decided to try them again...this time freezing the scoops overnight and using whole maraschino cherries. So they wouldn't end up looking like this:
Well, this turned out MUCH better! Exactly what I envisioned my tartufo to look like. :)
Not only did I freeze them overnight before coating them, I added the chocolate shell in the morning and let them freeze until dinner time. They were perfectly set to cut in half nicely:
And it tasted SO GOOD!!
The second type of coating I wanted to try was crushed chocolate wafer cookies with chopped milk chocolate bits. I crushed the cookies in a plastic baggie using a rolling pin and added the chopped chocolate.
After freezing the maraschino cherry filled ice cream scoops, I placed them into the cookie/chocolate filled bag, one at a time, and rolled them around in the crumbs until they were fully coated:
After freezing them again for approximately 8 hours, I placed one on a bed of caramel:
Once again, absolute deliciousness!!! I've read tartufo can be hard to find in restaurants in the United States. I rarely see it on menus when eating out, but I'm not going to let that stop me from indulging in a good thing...I'll make them myself, and you should, too!! :)