Tartufo di Pizzo Straight from Calabria

Tartufo di Pizzo has to be the best ice cream in the entire world! This truffle shaped chocolate-covered/cocoa dusted hazelnut and chocolate bomb is the pride of Calabria in their hot, sticky summer months!

Read on to discover this beautiful dessert for yourself. Be warned, though, you might feel like rushing to a gelateria after this, or even try your hand at making it yourself.

The origins and story behind Tartufo

Pizzo in the region of Calabria sets the scene for our opening story. Pizzo is the undisputed gelato capital of Italy and affectionately referred to as the ‘city of ice cream’ by its occupants. It has the invention of Tartufo to thank for this very prestigious honor.

In 1952, Don Pippo, born Giuseppe De Maria was hard at work preparing desserts for the feast celebrating the coming of a new prince. He was horrified to discover that he had no more molds left to shape his ice cream during his mise en place.

He resorted to shaping the desserts within the palms of his hands. He placed hazelnut and chocolate ice cream in his palm, shaped it into a rough ball, and then dipped it into melted chocolate.

Chocolate tartufo on plate with spoon, Tartufo di Pizzo Straight from Calabria - The Proud Italian

Don Pippo was Sicilian born and was no stranger to making arancini. Instead of covering the rough balls with breadcrumbs, he opted to dust them in cocoa and sugar. This gave them the appearance of truffles, and the name Tartufo di Pizzo was born.

So much is the value of this dessert in Italy that it gained Indicazione Geografica Protetta – IGP for short status, meaning that it is a product of high-quality from that specific region.

The different variations of Tartufo di Pizzo

In more modern versions, any flavor of gelato can be used to make this dessert. Some fillings may include:

  • Cookies
  • Fruits
  • Maraschino cherries
  • Coffee and cream
  • Licorice 

A variety of coatings has also come into existence since the traditional version was created; some of these include:

  • Chocolate shells
  • Cookie crumbs
  • Desiccated coconut
  • Nuts

Tartufo di Pizzo, Tartufo di Pizzo Straight from Calabria - The Proud Italian

Tartufo Preparation Techniques

Tartufo is a culmination of two different gelato flavors, sculpted into a ball, using your hands. When fruit is used in the center of the ball, the ice cream might be scooped out of the middle. The fruit is then placed in the middle, or a fruit paste may be used to glue the two pieces together.

When a chocolate shell is used, high-quality chocolate will be melted. Once the chocolate reaches a lukewarm temperature, it is poured over the ice cream ball. A variant of this is to chop the chocolate and then roll the ball in the shards to coat the ball.

In the case of coconut or cinnamon. The ball is shaped and rolled in cinnamon or coconut and then frozen. The shape can be perfected by using dome or circular shaped molds to create this delectable Italian dessert.

a Home-made Tartufo Recipe

Tartufo di Pizzo – an Ice cream bomb

Difficulty: Medium

Yield: 8 portions

Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Chocolate Ice Cream Ingredients:

  • 500ml full cream milk (whole milk)
  • 25g skimmed milk powder
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 200g dark chocolate
Chocolate ice cream, Tartufo di Pizzo Straight from Calabria - The Proud Italian

Hazelnut Ice Cream Ingredients:

  • 500ml full cream milk (whole milk)
  • 25g skimmed milk powder
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 65g hazelnut spread

Chocolate Sauce Ingredients:

  • 50g dark chocolate
  • 90g thick cream (double cream)
  • 80g caster sugar
  • 85g water
  • 30g cocoa powder
Chocolate sause, Tartufo di Pizzo Straight from Calabria - The Proud Italian

Sugared hazelnuts:

  • 50g hazelnuts
  • 50g brown sugar
  • 25g water

Equipment needed:

  • Ice cream maker
  • Hand blender
  • Candy (sugar) thermometer 


  1. Start by making the chocolate ice cream. Combine the milk, powdered milk, and sugar in a large skillet over medium heat. Bring to a simmer, and whisking continuously to prevent the mixture from sticking to the pan.
  2. Once the pan starts simmering, remove it from the heat. Add the dark chocolate and stir until it has melted. Pass the mixture through a sieve to eliminate any lumps and create a smooth consistency. 
  3. Pour the mixture into a plastic container. Chill the ice cream for a few hours or overnight, following the instructions on the ice-cream churner. When the process has been completed, return the mixture to the freezer.
    Tartufo di Pizzo dessert, Tartufo di Pizzo Straight from Calabria - The Proud Italian
  4. Repeat steps 1-3 for the hazelnut ice cream. Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
  5. Next, make the chocolate sauce by combining the cream, sugar, and water in a large pan. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Remove from the heat, stir in the cocoa powder until a smooth consistency is achieved.
  6. Place the pan back on medium heat, whisking it regularly. Once it starts to bubble, remove from the heat and stir in the chocolate until it is well-combined and the chocolate has melted.  Set aside to cool.
  7. Spread the hazelnuts out evenly over the circumference of one of the baking sheets. Toast the nuts for 2 minutes per side, until they become fragrant.
  8. While the nuts are toasting, place the water in a pot on high heat. Add the sugar to the water, and without stirring, wait until the temperature on the thermometer has reached 140°C.
  9. Remove the hot hazelnuts straight from the oven and add to the pot’s sugar and water mixture. Mix well until the sugar becomes powdery. Remove from the heat and spread out evenly on the other waiting baking sheet. Allow to cool.
    Chocolate truffles, Tartufo di Pizzo Straight from Calabria - The Proud Italian
  10. Remove both ice creams from the freezer, and allow to soften for a few minutes. Line 8 ramekins with parchment paper. There should be a considerable amount of overhang.
  11. Add one scoop of chocolate ice cream to each ramekin base and use the back of the spoon to form an indentation in the middle.
  12. Add three hazelnuts to the indentation. Top the hazelnuts with a scoop of hazelnut ice cream. Press to ensure the whole ramekin is filled. 
  13. Cover the hazelnut ice cream with another scoop of chocolate ice cream. Fold the overhanging parchment paper over the chocolate ice cream, ensuring it is completely covered. Twist the paper to hold it in place. Refrigerate or chill for two hours.
  14. Remove from the fridge and then from the ramekins. Place on a serving dish, and open the paper—dust with a generous helping of cocoa powder. 
  15. Serve immediately and enjoy!

Tartufo ice cream, Tartufo di Pizzo Straight from Calabria - The Proud Italian

The final say

Tartufo di Pizzo is, of course, best enjoyed in its country and region of origin, but nothing stops you from making your own, and putting a unique spin on it. 

Goditi il ​​tuo Tartufo di Pizzo!