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Mini Tartufo: An Italian Gelato Dessert

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This Mini Tartufo Dessert is a two-bite treat perfect when you want something sweet without overindulging. Layers of Italian gelato surround a cherry center, then it gets covered in a chocolate shell. Delizioso!

Chocolate covered ice cream balls on a tray.
This recipe is part of the cozy mystery cooking club series.

What is Tartufo + Why You Need to Make It!

Tartufo is an Italian ice cream dessert that originates from the Calabria region. It takes the shape of a ball or dome, and is layered gelato with fruit or chocolate in the center. The outside is coated in a chocolate shell, but sometimes it is simply rolled in cocoa powder, nuts or cookie crumbs. Tartufo, translated to English, is truffle – hence the rounded shape to mimic a mushroom cap. 

By the time you’ve made it through several courses of an Italian dinner, a big dessert may not be so welcome. This mini tartufo recipe is a delicious way to enjoy a frozen treat without overindulging! 

This is a must make-ahead dessert, so it’s a great option for entertaining. And, if you find yourself with extras at the end of the night, no worries! They’ll keep in the freezer, so you can treat yourself whenever the mood strikes.

I chose ingredients inspired by flavors that pop up throughout Toasting Up Trouble by Linda Wiken, a Cozy Mystery Cooking Club selection. Our characters drink A LOT of coffee and enjoy treats like biscotti alongside, so those were a must for my rendition. But, this dessert is wonderfully versatile…pick the flavors and fillings that work for you!

Raw ingredients for Italian tartufo desserts on a table.

Gather Your Tartufo Ingredients

I’ve provided substitutions next to the key ingredient to help you tailor this recipe to your needs or personal taste.

  • Gelato – I chose vanilla and coffee flavored gelatos, but you can make this recipe with any flavors you like. You aren’t limited to gelato either; you can certainly use regular ice cream for this recipe.
  • Almond biscotti – The biscotti is crushed and used as a crumb coating for the bottom of the tartufo and as a decorative sprinkle. You can omit the crumbs, or make some using your favorite cookies.
  • Chocolate covered dried cherries – Many recipes include a cherry in the center, but you can choose any fruit or candy to compliment the gelato flavors. I happened upon some dark chocolate covered dried cherries and couldn’t resist. Plus, they’re perfect for adding to the top of each dessert for twice the fruit fun!
  • Bittersweet chocolate chips – Bittersweet is my favorite, but you can use any variety of chocolate you like. Chips are easy, but feel free to chop up some of your favorite bars. These will be melted for the magic shell coating.
  • Coconut oil – this is melted with the chocolate to create the chocolate shell. It’s saturated fat content helps it harden quickly when exposed to cold. I like to use an unrefined coconut oil, but you can also use vegetable shortening or sunflower oil.
Chocolate covered gelato balls on a wire rack.

Equipment Needs

Ice cream molds – For miniature Italian tartufo, I’m using a silicone mold popular for making egg bites in an Instant Pot. Each well holds just over 1/4 cup. However, you can use a custard cup, small bowl, or any freezer-friendly vessel (these will vary in size and may impact the number of servings you’ll be able to make). If you choose this route, line your molds with a piece of plastic wrap to make the gelato easier to pop out. 

Ice cream scoop – I have a 2-tablespoon scoop that is handy for measuring out everything from cookies to meatballs, and ensures uniform servings. You can totally just eyeball the amount you put into the molds, though!

Wire rack + sheet pan – This combo of equipment is super handy when it comes to pouring the chocolate shell over the tartufo. Set inside a sheet pan, the wire rack allows excess chocolate to drip away from the desserts. 

Other standard kitchen supplies that will be helpful are a microwave-safe bowl or measuring cup (also handy for pouring melted chocolate), spoon, dull knife, and small flat or offset spatula. 

A single chocolate covered gelato dessert on a plate.

Let’s Make Dessert

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you on your way.

  1. Before you begin – Allow the gelato to sit at room temperature for 5 to 10 minutes so it is easier to scoop and layer.
  2. Make cookie crumbs – Crush the biscotti in a mini food processor, or place them in a ziptop bag and crush with a rolling pin or bottom of a pan. 
  3. Fill the molds – Fill each mold half way with one gelato flavor. Place a chocolate covered cherry in the center, then cover with the second gelato flavor. Use the back of a spoon to gently press the gelato down into the mold and flatten the surface. Sprinkle some biscotti crumbs over the top of each. Cover and freeze for 3 hours.
  1. Make the chocolate shell coating – Place the chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl or measuring cup. Heat for 1 minute, then stir. Heat again in 30 second increments, stirring each time. When there are just a few solid bits of chocolate left, stir in the coconut oil until both the oil and remaining chocolate chips are melted and smooth. Cover and set aside at room temperature.
Melting chocolate and coconut oil in a bowl.

The next steps need to be done quickly, so have the magic shell, remaining cherries, and biscotti crumbs at the ready.

  1. Unmold the gelato – Again, allow the gelato molds to sit for a couple of minutes at room temperature. Run the tip of an offset spatula or dull knife around the outside of each to help them release. Turn the molds over and gently press the bottoms to pop the gelato out. Place them flat side down on a rack positioned over a parchment lined sheet pan.
  2. Decorate the tartufo – Slowly pour the magic shell over one tartufo at a time; start in the center and work your way to the edges in a circular pattern to cover as much as possible. Immediately add a chocolate covered cherry to the top and sprinkle on some biscotti crumbs before the magic shell hardens. Repeat the process until all are covered.
  3. Freeze again before serving – Use a small spatula to carefully lift each tartufo off the rack (the magic shell may harden to the rack) and transfer to a plate or tray. Allow the tartufo to set up in the freezer for one hour before serving.
Pouring melted chocolate over a layered gelato ball.

Freezer Quick Tip

Prepare your freezer by making sure there is enough space for your molds as they will need to set up for a few hours during assembly. Once assembled, they need to refreeze again, but this time on a plate or small baking tray. 

Storing Tartufo + Chocolate Shell

Tartufo – To enjoy another day, wrap individual tartufo in wax paper or plastic wrap and store them in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 6 months.

Chocolate shell coating – This makes more than enough to cover the tartufo (hopefully 😉). Transfer extra magic shell to an airtight container and store it at room temperature. It may set up between uses, but you can warm it in the microwave in short bursts until it is pourable. 

Spoonful of tartufo dessert on a plate.

More Frozen Treats to Try!

Chocolate covered ice cream balls on a tray.

Mini Tartufo: An Italian Gelato Dessert

Linda Feller
This Mini Tartufo Dessert is a two-bite treat perfect when you want something sweet without overindulging. Layers of Italian gelato surround a cherry center, then it gets covered in a chocolate shell. Delizioso!
Prep time.30 minutes
Cook time.2 minutes
Custom time.4 hours
Total time.4 hours 32 minutes
Course.Dessert
Cuisine.Italian
Number of servings.14
Calories per serving.292 kcal

Equipment

Ingredients

  • 1 pint vanilla gelato
  • 1 pint coffee gelato, or another flavor
  • 2 almond biscotti, or another flavor
  • 28 chocolate covered dried cherries
  • 2 cups bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 5 tbsp coconut oil , room temperature

Instructions

  • Allow the gelato to stand at room temperature for 5 to 10 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, crush the biscotti using a mini food processor (or place in a ziptop bag and use a rolling pin or flat pan to crush them).
  • Fill each mold with 2 tbsp of vanilla gelato (or halfway full). Place a chocolate covered cherry in the center, then cover it with 2 tbsp of coffee gelato. Use the back of a spoon to gently press the gelato down into the mold and flatten the surface. Sprinkle a little of the almond biscotti crumbs over the top of each. Cover and freeze for 3 hours.
  • To make the chocolate shell coating, place the chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl. Heat for 1 minute, then stir. Heat again in 30 second increments, stirring each time. When there are just a few solid bits of chocolate left, stir in the coconut oil until both the oil and remaining chocolate chips are melted and smooth. Cover and set aside at room temperature.
  • Line a sheet pan with parchment or wax paper, then set a wire rack inside. Line a freezer-safe plate or small tray with more paper and set aside. The next two steps need to be done quickly, so have the magic shell, remaining cherries, and biscotti crumbs at the ready.
  • Take the molds out of the freezer and let them sit for a couple of minutes at room temperature. Run the tip of an offset spatula or dull knife around the outside of each well to help them release. Turn the mold over and gently press the bottom of each to pop the gelato out (it’s helpful to do this over a sheet pan). Place them flat side down on the rack.
  • Give the magic shell a stir, then slowly pour it over one tartufo – start in the center and work your way to the edges in a circular pattern to cover as much as possible. Immediately add a chocolate covered cherry to the top and sprinkle on some biscotti crumbs before the magic shell hardens. Repeat the process with the remaining tartufo.
  • Use a small spatula to carefully lift each tartufo off the rack (the magic shell may harden to the rack) and transfer to the prepared plate. Allow the tartufo to set up in the freezer for one hour before serving.

Notes

  • Size of molds – the molds I use hold just over ¼ cup, and yield 14 mini tartufo. Depending on the size of mold you use, the yield may be different.
  • Prepare your freezer before you begin – Make sure there is enough flat surface space for your molds as they will need to set up for a few hours during assembly. Once assembled, they need to refreeze again, but this time on a plate or small baking tray. 
  • Storing Tartufo – Wrap leftover individual tartufo in wax paper or plastic wrap and store them in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 6 months.
  • Storing chocolate shell coating – Transfer extra magic shell to an airtight container and store it at room temperature. If it sets up between uses, warm it in the microwave in short bursts until it is pourable. 

Nutrition

Calories: 292kcal | Carbohydrates: 32g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 13g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 29mg | Sodium: 83mg | Potassium: 273mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 24g | Vitamin A: 370IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 140mg | Iron: 1mg
Keywords.chocolate, freezer-friendly, make ahead, microwave
Did You Make This Recipe?Be sure to share a comment below!

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