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.Print
Rich vegan ice cream recipe for classic tartufo Italian dessert. Notes of hazelnut and espresso blend perfectly in raw ice cream balls. Cashew-free option.
- 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!
*To pre-soak nuts: place in a glass bowl, cover with water, and leave to soak for 4 hours (or overnight in the fridge). Then strain and discard the water.
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.