Is a Tartufo a Mushroom or a Chocolate?

Tartufo cake
Tartufo Cake

There are a lot of things the Italian’s pride themselves on. Besides Galileo, Michelangelo, Gucci and pizza, there is a thing known as ‘Tartufo’.

Have you ever heard of Tartufo? The chances are you have. However, if you have never been to Italy or an expensive Italian restaurant in your city, you may not know exactly what it is.

One thing you must know about Tartufo is that it is a ‘must-try’ for anyone who has the opportunity to visit Italy. Tartufo is an Italian specialty, and in Florence, it is as easy to find. While you enjoy your Italian culinary vacations it’s a necessity to venture out and find and prepare Tartufo – you won’t regret it!

But What Exactly Is Tartufo?

Doesn’t it sound like a chocolate tart covered with tofu or an exotic subterranean mushroom that tastes delicious?

While both sound tempting, neither one is the right answer. Tartufo is actually an ice-cream dessert and the name has nothing to do with truffles, tarts or tofu.

Tartufo is also the Italian word for ‘truffle’, a tasty name for this ectomycorrhizal fungi.

Typically, two different flavors of ice-cream are used for a Tartufo. Both flavors are aesthetically placed together, along with a piece of frozen fruit placed in between or as a filling. Sometimes, instead of a fruit, fruit syrups are also used to stick two scoops together.

Where Did The Name Come From?

This dessert got its name from a white truffle that grows in the northwestern region of Italy. Interestingly enough, Tartufo originates from Pizzo, a city located in the southern part of the country. When the Prince of Savoia visited Pizzo in 1943, local gelato masters planned to impress him by creating a unique blend of southern flavor and the taste from the Prince’s hometown in the north.

One of the master chefs beautifully infused both flavors by inventing a gelato-based truffle. Originally, hazelnut and chocolate ice cream dipped in chocolate sauce and sprinkled with cocoa powder. The prince, being a chocolate lover, fell in love with the new dessert and pronounced it the ‘King of all Gelato.’

Today, there is a large variation in the way Tartufo is made and served. Some of the famous restaurants and gelato houses have their own specialty. Some of the restaurants also create custom orders as per their customers’ liking. Generally, however, chocolate and vanilla flavors are the most common flavors. Yet, it is not unlikely to see strawberry, butter scotch and pistachio as well. As for the toppings, most people like their Tartufo covered in chocolate shell, nuts, cookies or cinnamon. It’s delicious, that’s for sure!

Don’t pass up a Tartufo when in Italy and enjoy the delicious flavor of this ice-cream dessert while learning how to make it during your culinary classes.