I never really quite understood the expression “death by chocolate” (nor did I know it’s apparently trademarked until I recently looked it up! :o ). Not sure why, but that phrase always sounded funny to me. Almost dangerous. What could possibly go wrong with chocolate anyways?
Having too much of a decadent, velvety smooth, beautifully deep cocoa flavored little treat? Creating a can’t-put-that-fork-down chocolate dessert? Those sound like good things to me ;)
Maybe we should rephrase that saying to “life by chocolate”, because the satisfied and mildly euphoric feeling of a good Italian chocolate dessert is certainly a life experience to be had…
It also makes a perfect “celebration” dessert if you’re looking to serve or share a treat with friends and you don’t want to do cake.
So unless you’re Italian or had a tartufo before, you’re probably wondering what on earth a tartufo is. Let me fill you in with a quick synopsis:
- it’s decadent
- an ice cream “ball”
- often coated in cocoa or melted chocolate
- a tried and tested classic (you know, not unlike the famous tiramisu ;) )
- sometimes made with berries or a berry sauce, or two different ice cream flavors, or nuts
In short, it’s a little ball of decadent ice cream. I opted for two flavors for this version: regular and white chocolate. I also opted to make it a raw-style, refined sugar-free, and, dairy-free tartufo, because… well, you know! :)
The inspiration to make these happened when I chanced upon the perfect silicone mold for tartufo. I’ve been wanting to make some for the blog for a while, but somehow it felt like it needed the right shape to be authentic. I say needed because, well, for presentation it’s the classic form for this dessert. But for a home edition, maybe needed can be downgraded a few notches to a nice to have, but not essential.
You can get away with using a silicone muffin pan for the same concept. Different shape, same chocolate ice cream. All good :)
Whether you opt to get/use the tartufo pan (which is great for small treats) or use a muffin pan, be sure to use a silicone one because otherwise you’ll never dig your dessert out — or at least not gracefully. I’ve seen some attempts by people who didn’t know. Wasn’t pretty :S
Silicone makes it so easy to pop these out, plus you’ll get lots of brownie points for serving an impressively-shaped, authentic restaurant quality dessert.
Just a couple more quick notes: the two tones of chocolate (regular and white) can be used in several ways. One way is to fill the center with the white (as per the first photo above), another way is to simply lightly swirl the two flavors together with a skewer once the two mixtures are in the mold. Up to you, really, but if you swirl, be sure not to over-swirl, so you can still keep the two flavors distinct.
The second quick note is that the recipe only makes 3 big servings, but you can double since the pan has 6 cavities, especially if serving for company. One serving is quite large though. So feel free to cut in half or serve whole :) And while on this subject, if you’re using a newer Vitamix with the wider pitcher base, you’ll need to triple the recipe to make it work (as Janel has done in the video above).
Another note: traditionally tartufo is served coated with a chocolate drizzle or sauce or dusted. I went with dusting because it’s quite rich and decadent already, and of course chocolatey, for me, but up to you if you want to go for something more classic when serving this raw version.
Lastly, this recipe uses raw cacao butter, which is the thing that makes chocolate taste and smell incredible. If you’re unfamiliar with it, I highly recommend giving it a try. Just be sure to pick up a food-grade version (as there are also versions made for body products). In a pinch, you can also use coconut oil here instead, but you’ll lose a bit of the depth of flavor that cacao butter lends to the recipe.
- ½ cup raw cashews, pre-soaked and strained*
- 4 tbsp unsweetened almond milk
- 4 tbsp maple syrup (or raw agave for raw version)
- 4 tbsp melted cacao butter
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- ¼ tsp salt
- 2 tbsp cocoa powder (I recommend using alkalized**)
- additional cocoa powder for dusting and cacao nibs. Melted chocolate for drizzling would be great too.
- Make sure all ingredients are at room temperature before starting***. Blend all ice cream ingredients, EXCEPT cocoa powder, in a high power blender until completely smooth. Pour just under half of this mixture into a little pitcher or small bowl and set aside.
- Add cocoa powder to the remaining mixture in the blender and blend to combine.
- Set the silicone pan (I used this one; see notes above recipe for alternatives) on a small flat tray or cutting board. Divide the chocolate mixture evenly between three of the mold cavities (if using the same mold). Then carefully pour or spoon in the white mixture (which was set aside in step 1) into the center of each chocolate mixture-filled cavity.
- Place the pan into the freezer for 5-6 hours or overnight to set. When ready to serve / eat, remove from mold and plate, dust with some cocoa powder. Let the tartufo thaw out 5-10 minutes and enjoy!
For a quick pre-soak, cover with boiled water and soak for 15 mins, then strain and discard water. (Note: this technique doesn't preserve the nutrition of the recipe as well as the traditional soaking technique above).
Note: the purpose of soaking the nuts is to re-hydrate them and plump them up for blending into a smooth, cheesecake-like consistency. Proper soaking techniques also maximize nutrition and digestibility. If you're interested in learning more about nut soaking and other dessert prep tips and tricks, I delve into these subjects in detail in my book Unconventional Treats.
**note: I recommend going with alkalized cocoa powder over raw cacao powder for raw cakes, as sometimes raw cacao powder can react with other ingredients and spoil the cake. That said, this can still be made with raw cacao if you prefer to keep the recipe fully raw.
***If you have cold items, they'll make the mixture firm up too quickly in the blender / if your items are extremely hot, like the cocoa butter, they'll cook the sugar in the blender and make the mixture clump up. Room temp or very slightly warm is idea.