The other week when this classic raw chocolate tartufo recipe happened it seemed destined to be repeated in other flavors. I mean, who stops at just one ice cream flavor when they stumble upon a simple recipe, right? The chocolate ice cream base was a clear invitation for hazelnuts… (along with some other fun things I’ll share with you another time!) For now let’s talk chocolate, hazelnuts, and ice cream… oh yes, and a hint of espresso (couldn’t resist).
Just so we’re all on the same page here, a tartufo is a type of Italian dessert — an ice cream ball (or more like a dome), that’s often chocolatey, sometimes a bit fruity, and always delicious. When I made this simple version of it, I couldn’t believe how easy it was to adapt the classic into something involving no dairy, refined sugar, or churning ice cream.
For this hazelnutty version, I tried it out several ways. Many people loved the former cashew-based recipe, but there are always requests for a cashew-free version. Well, this recipe isn’t exactly it, but it’s very close — you could make it with all hazelnuts and no cashews if you prefer.
I tried an all hazelnut version and quite liked it. The caveat was that it needed to be more frozen to be enjoyed. When it thawed out a bit too much it started tasting slightly gritty. So long as it was more frozen it was all good. In contrast, the recipe version below has mostly hazelnuts and a bit of cashews, which offsets the grittiness very nicely since cashews add a nice layer of creaminess instead. So up to you — if you’re cashew-sensitive, feel free to go full hazelnut here instead.
One other quick note is that I used some instant espresso powder for a deeper, stronger flavor. You could omit it, but then adjust the sweetener to your liking — chances are you’ll need to use a bit less without the bitterness of the espresso in there.
Last but not least, I made these in this silicone mold that’s perfect for classic tartufo. But you can get away with using silicone cupcake liners for the same concept — I’ve seen lots of remakes of the original recipe using those and nobody complained so far ;). But of course, the classic tartufo shapes makes a pretty, unique presentation too if you’re in the mood for fancy.
- Ice Cream:
- ⅓ cup hazelnuts, pre-soaked and strained*
- 3 tbsp raw cashews, pre-soaked and strained
- 6 tbsp unsweetened almond milk
- 6 tbsp maple syrup
- 4 tbsp melted cacao butter
- 2 tbsp cocoa powder (I recommend using alkalized**)
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1 tsp instant espresso powder (optional, if not using, feel free to reduce amount of sweetener a touch)
- ¼ tsp salt
- additional cocoa powder and espresso powder for dusting.
- Make sure all ingredients are at room temperature before starting***. Blend all ice cream ingredients in a high power blender until completely smooth.
- 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.
- 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 and with a bit of espresso powder if using. Let the tartufo thaw out for 5 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.
***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.