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Light Italian Dessert Recipes: Easy And Delicious Homemade Biscuit Tortoni

Updated on March 15, 2011

Biscuit Tortoni Defined

What is biscuit tortoni? It is basically an ice cream made with eggs and usually heavy cream - sometimes combined with ground/chopped almonds or crumbled macaroons or even chopped cherries. However, this recipe is made without the eggs, so no worries regarding cholesterol.

It is said to have been created by an Italian cafe owner in Paris in the 18th century.

Biscuit tortoni makes a wonderful dessert that can be prepared ahead and tops off perfectly an Italian meal but really any meal where you want something a little lighter for a dessert.

If you want to serve this dessert truly Italian style you can purchase decorative paper cups - usually in a gourmet kitchen store or an Italian grocery. In a pinch, you can use decorative muffin cup liners - put the batter into the muffin cup liners in the muffin pans and freeze.

I have made it with store-bought macaroons and I have made my own macaroons for this recipe. It is a wonderful dessert and have never had any complaints (or leftovers) when I serve it!

Tortoni Recipe - 12 Servings


  • 1-1/2 cups chilled whipping cream (use low-fat or reduced fat if you like)
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 cup almond macaroon (or vanilla wafer crumbs - 24 cookies)
  • 1/2 cup chopped toasted almonds
  • 1/4 cup maraschino cherries, drained and chopped (if desired)
  • 2 tablespoons rum or dry sherry (or substitute flavoring)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla


  1. Beat whipping cream and sugar in chilled bowl until stiff.
  2. Reserve 1/4 cup macaroon crumbs.
  3. Fold remaining ingredients into whipped cream.
  4. Divide among 12 small dessert dishes or paper-lined medium muffin cups 2-1/2 x 1-1/4 inches (or pour into 1 dessert bowl).
  5. Sprinkle with reserved cookie crumbs
  6. Freeze until firm – about 4 hours.

NOTE: There are many different variations I have tried to this recipe. I originally found this recipe in my Betty Crocker International Cookbook from the 1970s.

  • You can use different crackers for the crumb portion - i.e. chocolate wafer cookies, which gives a different taste
  • You can substitute homemade macaroons or another flavorful, crumbly cookie for the crumbs
  • You can omit the maraschino cherries
  • You can use almond extract rather than vanilla extract for a totally different flavor
  • You can also add ground chocolate chips/bits/white chocolate bits again for a completely different presentation and taste
  • The almond macaroon recipe below is without the standard coconut which gives the tortoni a unique flavor as well but macaroons of any kind are great to use as the crumb portion

Another Light Dessert Idea

Almond Macaroon Recipe

If you are making the almond macaroon cookie recipe for the biscuit tortoni, you can eliminate topping the cookies with the whole almonds and dusting with powdered sugar. Simply bake, let cool and then use the cookies for the crumb portion of the tortoni recipe.


  • 1 cup whole almonds (blanched)
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • Powdered sugar for dusting (optional)
  • About 16 whole almonds (optional)
  • Cooking spray and/or parchment paper


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Lightly spray baking sheet with cooking spray or use parchment paper to line.
  3. Use food processor to grind/chop 1 cup almonds with the sugar until ground fine.
  4. Add the egg white, almond extract, and a pinch salt to this mixture and pulse until the mixture is combined.
  5. Roll the mixture into 16 balls, about 1 inch in diameter.
  6. Arrange about 2 inches apart on baking sheet.
  7. Slightly flatten the balls and dust lightly with confectioners' sugar.
  8. Gently press 1 whole almond into each of the cookies.
  9. Bake macaroons on middle rack of oven 10 minutes. They should be pale golden brown.
  10. Transfer cookies to a rack and cool completely.
  11. These should keep about 4 days in an airtight container at room temperature.
  12. I generally make the cookies a few days before and then make into crumbs in the food processor right before making the tortoni.

Makes about 16 cookies

Here on Amazon


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    • akirchner profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Kirchner 

      9 years ago from Washington

      Yes - it might melt though before it gets there - the whipping cream just makes it so good and of course so light that all the calories are sucked right out of it! At least you can eat it and not feel totally guilty after having a nice big Italian of my favorites!

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 

      9 years ago from Georgia

      I've never had this, but it sounds great! Mail me some?? lol

    • akirchner profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Kirchner 

      9 years ago from Washington

      Thank you!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Great hub, looks delicious! :-)

    • akirchner profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Kirchner 

      9 years ago from Washington

      It is very easy unless you go through all the trouble to make the macaroons too...but it is a very light dessert to end an Italian meal - or really any meal to be honest. Thanks again for checking out my recipes! I seem to collect them and probably try at least 10 per week.

    • prasetio30 profile image


      9 years ago from malang-indonesia

      I like this food. It look easy to made it. I can't wait to try this recipe. Thanks

    • akirchner profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Kirchner 

      9 years ago from Washington

      You bet! I love this dessert and it always reminds me of New Year's for some odd reason! Might be because I'm always doing Italian menus...I think I am wannabee Italian. Thanks for tagging me....Audrey

    • The Rope profile image

      The Rope 

      9 years ago from SE US

      Yum! These will be easy and quick and I can't wait to try them out. Thanks for sharing!


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