There is this little Italian restaurant in Provo called Gloria’s Little Italy with the best desserts. One of our favorites is their chocolate “tartufo” – basically a giant ball of cake filled with their Italian creme, and served hot. I am pretty sure they make it from their cake trimmings and fill it with the extra Italian creme that they also use in their cakes (which are delicious!).
I am really not very familiar with authentic Italian food – so after a little Google research at an attempt to recreate it – I found out that the dessert that they serve at Little Italy is a little different than the traditional tartufo. Typically, a tartufo is a fancy way to serve gelato – usually a scoop of the Italian ice cream with some type of coating on the outside. Many of the recipes I found online suggested rolling the gelato in cookie crumbs after placing a cherry in the middle of the scoop.
So although this version has a different taste than Little Italy’s (using custard in the middle instead of Italian creme), it is inspired by the same dessert. I decided to use one of my favorite custard recipes for the center, and my go-to dark chocolate cake recipe for the coating. And, of course, I topped with an almond ganache. It’s the perfect combo for a rich, decadent dessert! Bon appétit!
This dessert is made up of three parts – the custard center, chocolate cake coating, and ganache glaze. First, you will need to make your custard.
- 3 1/2 cups whole milk, divided
- 3/4 cups sugar
- 2 egg yolks
- 3 Tablespoons flour
- pinch of salt
- zest from 1/2 lemon (about 1 packed teaspoon)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract (optional)
- pinch of nutmeg
- 6 Tablespoons butter
- Pour 3 cups of milk into a large heavy pot and gently bring it to a boil, stirring occasionally.
- While the milk is warming – cream together egg yolks, sugar and salt. Blend until the mixture turns a lighter color. Add in flour, and mix well. Then, add in the remaining 1/2 cup of milk and mix until all of the lumps are gone.
- When the milk begins to boil, immediately reduce the heat to low. Very slowly, wisk in the egg mixture. Turn the heat back up to medium-high, and bring back to a boil. Simmer the cream for 3 minutes, stirring constantly.
- Remove from heat, and stir in lemon zest, vanilla and nutmeg.
- Let the cream cool for about 10 minutes, then add in butter. Let it melt from the heat of the cream, then stir to combine.
- Let cool in the fridge for at least 4 hours. Stir it well, then move to freezer for at least 8 hours, or until firm.
Once your custard is completely frozen, use an ice cream scoop to form 2-inch scoops. Return the scoops of frozen custard to freezer while you prepare your cake.
Dark Chocolate Cake
- 2 cups boiling water
- 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup butter, softened
- 2 1/4 cups white sugar
- 4 eggs
- 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 350-degrees. Prepare two cookie sheets (half-size, 18×13-inch) by greasing and lining with parchment (optional, but recommended).
- In medium bowl, pour boiling water over cocoa, and whisk until smooth. Let mixture cool. Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt; set aside.
- In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs one at time, then stir in vanilla. Add the flour mixture alternately with the cocoa mixture. Spread batter evenly between the prepared pans.
- Bake in preheated oven for 25-35 minutes, or until done (the center will spring back when lightly pressed). Allow to cool completely.
Once your cakes have cooled completely, crumble them into a large bowl – or your mixer. Use the paddle attachment to crumble the cake completely.
Now, flatten out some of the cake crumbles (about 1-cup, loosely packed) onto your counter or a piece of parchment, about 1/2-inch thick. Squish down the center, leaving the edges crumbly (so that they stick together better when you wrap the custard).
Pull up the edges of the cake crumbles to wrap the frozen custard completely. Make sure that there are no holes or large cracks. Use extra crumbles as necessary to make sure that the custard is completely covered. Return the cake ball to the freezer while you continue making the remaining tartufo. Depending on how big you made your custard scoops, and how thick you coat them in cake – this will make anywhere from 8-12 custard tartufo.
Next, you will prepare your almond ganache.
- 1 1/2-cups milk chocolate chips
- 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
- In a glass bowl, combine chocolate chips and heavy cream. Microwave at 50% power at 30 second intervals, until the chocolate begins to soften.
- Wisk together until the chocolate has melted completely and the ganache is smooth. Stir in almond extract.
Transfer your tartufo to a wire cooling rack and carefully drizzle the ganache on top of each. (I like to put a piece of parchment paper under the rack so that I can scrape off the ganache drippings to use again – its also a much faster clean-up!)
Allow to cool for a few minutes, then transfer to fridge until ready to serve. If you are not going to be eating these within 24-hours, I would transfer to the freezer for longer keeping. Either way, let the ganache cool completely before covering – or the chocolate will stick to your plastic wrap/container.
To serve, warm individually in microwave for about 90 seconds. The custard in the center should be hot.
Sprinkle with a little cocoa powder or powdered sugar, if desired.