This dessert contains an almond crust made from ground amaretti cookies and ground almonds, mixed with melted butter. You press the mixture into the bottom of a loaf pan and freeze it until firm. I used homemade almond cloud cookies instead of store-bought amaretti; because the almond clouds are so chewy, the ground cookies were a bit sticky, but they still worked out fine.
Stracciatella is the Italian gelato equivalent of chocolate chip ice cream. The first step in making the straccciatella tortoni filling is to beat egg whites, cream of tartar, and salt over simmering water until the mixture reaches 170 degrees; I always find having to use a hand mixer and a candy thermometer simultaneously in a double boiler to be rather unwieldy. Once it reaches the proper temperature, you take the mixture off of the heat, beat it to stiff peaks, and fold it into heavy cream beaten with Amaretto, along with shaved chocolate.
You spread the filling over the frozen almond crust, sprinkle it with toasted sliced almonds, and freeze the entire thing until it's firm. One great thing about this dessert is the fact that you can prepare it in advance; I made it the day before.
I loved the stracciatella filling. It was a lot of work shaving the chocolate for the filling, and it had crossed my mind to simply use miniature chocolate chips instead. But I'm so glad I didn't; the frozen chocolate shavings give the filling a wonderful texture, and I loved how the thin bits of chocolate were so delicate. The filling had the light, luscious texture of a frozen mousse. The almond crust was delicious, but it was a little difficult to cut through, and there was a lot of thwacking noise as our dinner guests were trying to scoop up bites with their spoons (somewhat reminiscent of what happened the last time I served a frozen dessert, although not nearly as severe). The fudge sauce was my least favorite part of the dish; the texture was too thick, and the flavor was very aggressive; in the future, I would serve this with a plain hot fudge sauce, such as this one that I love.
Other than the sauce, I have no complaints about this dessert and I would love to make it again. The fact that you can have it prepared entirely in advance and serve it straight from the freezer is fabulously convenient. It provides a great return for relatively little work and is absolutely delicious.
Recipe: "Stracciatella Tortoni Cake with Espresso Fudge Sauce" from epicurious.com.
- "Who Knew Clouds Are So Chewy: Almond Cloud Cookies," April 19, 2012.
- "This Bombe is Deafening: Frozen Chocolate Oh-Honey So-Fluffy Mousse Bombe," March 17, 2012.