Chocolate Cake Truffles – Kartoshka

Kartoshka Chocolate Cake Truffles are made with a delicious sponge cake, sweetened condensed milk buttercream, roasted walnuts, and cocoa to resemble a potato, after which these pastries were named.

Kartoshka Pirozheno - Chocolate Cake Truffle

What is Kartoshka (Chocolate Cake Truffles)

Many bakeries in the post-Soviet countries still carry these delicious cake truffles which originally came to existence as a way to utilize the cake scraps that were left at the end of the day. These Russian Cake Truffles were shaped into little logs, then dusted with cocoa powder so they resembled a dusty potato. Hence the name Kartoshka in Russian means potato.  Sometimes the bakeries would even pipe out little buttercream sprouts to really give the pastries that authentic look of a potato or Kartoshka.

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Back before the fall of the USSR, things in the commercial baking world, they say, were not so bad. The government owned commercial bakeries had some kind of a standard they were held to and many people that remember good pastries or cakes, usually remember them from that time. Later things changed and quality control was no longer the same. Anyway, Chadeyka of has a wonderful collection of recipes that those commercial bakeries followed under the tag ГОСТ on her blog, you should check it out if that is something you’re interested in. This recipe was directly inspired by her recipe of “Картошка” .
Originally, commercial bakeries made these pastries as a utilization of the cake scraps that were left after assembling and decorating cakes. That’s one of the reasons why there’s never going to be any way to make them taste exactly like the commercially made ones. But I think we can come close. Most of the cakes back then, were made with a sponge cake base and Russian buttercream as the filling. Nuts & jams were also added but in very small quantities.

Kartoshka Pirozheno - Chocolate Cake Truffle

So to make these Kartoshka (‘kuh-rtoh-shkuh’) cake truffles at home, we are going to follow those general instructions. Read on to see what I did…  

Kartoshka Pirozheno - Chocolate Cake Truffle

Cake Balls “Kartoshka” Sponge Cake

Ingredients for Kartoshka Cake Truffles’

1.5 recipes of this Sponge Cake (increase the “servings” in the recipe card to 18, then print the recipe with adjusted ingredient amounts)

Russian Buttercream


  • 2 Tbsp rum or cognac
  • 1/2 cup roasted walnuts

Coating Mixture

  • 3 Tbsp cocoa powder
  • 3 Tbsp powdered sugar OR 6 Tbsp hot cocoa mixture


  • or 2 cups of chocolate melts

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1.Make the Sponge Cake

Russian Buttercream Ingredients:

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How to Roast and Chop the Walnuts for Kartoshka 

  • Roast the walnuts by placing them on a baking sheet into a 350F oven for about 7-10 minutes. Keep a close eye on them as they burn easy. Every 3-4 minutes give the baking sheet a toss, to promote even roasting of walnuts. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
  • Chop the toasted walnuts into small pieces.

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Form or Assemble the Kartoshka Pastries

  • Break the cooled cake into small pieces and add them to a bowl of a mixer. Combine them with the prepared buttercream, walnuts and cognac or rum (if using).
  • With beater attachment mix everything together until it resembles a moist mixture.

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  • With a small ice cream scoop or a spoon, pinch off about 1.5 tablespoons of the cake truffle mixture and form a ball. Repeat with the rest of the mixture.
  • To coat the cake truffles in cocoa: Combine 3 tablespoons cocoa powder and 3 tablespoons powdered sugar. Stir to combine. Alternatively, use the hot chocolate mixture. Roll the Kartoshka truffles in the cocoa.

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  • Alternatively you can melt 2 cups of dark chocolate melts over a double boiler, then roll each rolled cake ball in the chocolate and set them on parchment paper to set.

Cake Balls “Kartoshka”

Author: Marina | Let the Baking Begin
Servings: 45 -50 cake balls


Sponge Cake

  • 6 eggs
  • 1.5 cups flour
  • 1.5 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/8 cup oil
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract

Russian Buttercream

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter room temperature (230 grams)
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk room temperature


  • 2 Tbsp rum or cognac optional
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Coating Mixture


Make the Sponge Cake

  1. Whip 6 eggs with a mixer on high speed, in a grease free bowl until frothy. Gradually add the sugar, pouring it between the bowl and the whisk.
  2. Continue whipping for 15 minutes until pale in color, thick and flows off the whisk in a ribbon.
  3. While the eggs are whipping, turn the oven to 350F. Also line baking pan with foil, then butter the inside. Add heaping spoon of flour and shake the pan to the sides to coat it with flour. Shake out the excess.
  4. Add the flour and baking soda mixture into the egg miture, in thirds, carefully folding it in to prevent deflating the batter.
  5. Once the flour is fully incorporated, add the oil and the vanilla extract. Fold it in until fully incorporated.
  6. Pour the batter into the buttered pan and spread it out evenly. Bake at 350F for 15+ minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  7. Remove the cake with the foil to the counter, carefully unfold the sides and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Then invert it onto a rack and allow to cool completely.

Russian Buttercream

  1. While the sponge cake is cooling make the buttercream.
  2. Add room temperature butter to the mixer and whip with a whisk on high until white in color and fluffy, about 4 minutes.
  3. While continuing to whip, add the sweetened condensed milk by allowing it to flow down the inside of the bowl. If the buttercream starts to look broken, stop the mixer right away and fold the remainder of the sweetened condensed milk with the spatula. This sometimes happens because of different fat content of the butter and the moisture content of the condensed milk, different brands work differently when combined. In this case, it doesn’t matter if it does break.


  1. Break the cooled cake into small pieces. Add the broken pieces of cake and the to the buttercream and using the beater attachment combine together, for about 2-3 minutes or until it starts looking like dough. Add the nuts and mix it together again.
  2. Pinch off about 1.5 tablespoons of the cake ball mixture and form a ball. Repeat with the rest of the mixture.
  3. Combine 3 tablespoons cacao powder and 3 tablespoons powdered sugar. Stir to combine. Alternatively, use hot chocolate mixture.
  4. Dip and roll each ball in the mixture. Set aside. Once done, coat each ball in the cocoa mixture one more time.
  5. Transfer to a serving platter and serve, or transfer to refrigerator until ready to serve.

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  • ajay

    This recipe does not work. You end up with a gooey, sticky, too-liquid mess. I don’t know, maybe different brands of milk work different. There’s no way that this one makes a solid “buttercream” though. Avoid.

    · Reply
    • Hi Ajay,
      I’m sorry you weren’t able to get the buttercream to the right consistency. This is a pretty classic recipe for Russian buttercream that is used consistently in Russian cakes, so the recipe is definitely not the problem (as seen on the step by step pictures in the recipe).

      I can think of a couple reasons why it didn’t work for you though.

      1. Sometimes people confuse sweetened condensed milk with evaporated milk. If evaporated instead of sweetened condensed milk was used then it would definitely not work. Because it’s like mixing water and butter.

      2. Other brands of sweetened condensed can be runnier than the one you see in the pictures, and that can in turn make the buttercream runnier.
      3. If you butter is too soft (if you press on it with a finger it goes down with no resistance at all) it won’t be able to hold on to the condensed milk and will be very runny. So the butter needs to be left at room temperature for a couple hours not for 10 hours.
      4. If your butter is the right temperature and is not too soft but you don’t whip it up enough as specified in the recipe, there will not be enough air incorporated into the butter, which will also overwhelm the butter and create a runny buttercream.

      #2 – #4 do not matter though, because even if you were to just put the butter and condensed milk together and whip it for 30 seconds just until combined and it was as runny as can be, once added to the cake you will still be able to shape the cake balls.

      So that leaves only #1. In which case unfortunately if the directions of the recipe were not followed, the end result can not be guaranteed.

      · Reply
  • Alyona

    Can you make them the night before? Or they have to be consumed same day?

    · Reply
    • Oh yes, they keep just fine for several days in the fridge.

      · Reply
  • Lana

    I love the step by step pictures, thank you!!!! looks delicious

    · Reply
  • Julia

    This would be a great project to do with kids, i know my boys would enjoy rolling them out with me. Thanks for the recipe!

    · Reply
    • Yes, that’s a great idea to make these with kids! Kids would love rolling them and may be even coating in the cocoa 🙂 Thanks Julia!

      · Reply
  • foodlikecake

    These look very good!

    · Reply
  • Tatyana

    All I can say is thank you!

    · Reply
    • Enjoy, you’re welcome! 🙂

      · Reply
  • Julia @Vikalinka

    I am feeling seriously nostalgic right now, Marina! They look wonderful and I love the new blog design! 🙂

    · Reply
    • Thanks Julia, I think Kartoshka makes anyone feel nostalgic. it’s part of memories of so many 🙂

      · Reply

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