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Tiramisu (Italian: Tiramisù / Veneto: Tiramesù, IPA: [tirame'su]) is one of the most popular Italian cakes. It is made of savoiardi dipped in espresso and layered with mascarpone cream cheese and zabaglione.
Tiramisu has become one of the most popular desserts served in restaurants of all types, not just Italian restaurants. The recipe has been adapted into cakes, puddings, and other varieties of dessert.
Several sources (from Vin Veneto, dated 1981, to the Italian Academy of Giuseppe Maffioli and several cuisine websites) claim that tiramisu was born in Treviso at "Le Beccherie" restaurant in the hands of the confectioner Roberto Linguanotto, also known as Loli. Other sources report the creation of the cake to have originated in the city of Siena. Some confectioners were said to have created it in honour of Cosimo III on the occasion of his visit to the city.
The original recipe called for the following ingredients: Savoiardi biscuits, eggs, sugar, rum and cocoa. In the original recipe, there was no liquor as the cake was originally aimed at children and the elderly and the original shape was round. The name Tiramisu is Italian and means "pull-me-up" (Tirami su), a reference to the effects of the sugar and espresso, and can be translated figuratively as "pick-me-up". Alternatively one can translate Tirami-su literally as pick me up.
Tiramisu is made by soaking savoiardi biscuits in espresso with the optional addition of liquor and sugar, and layering them with a mixture of mascarpone cheese and zabaglione, a light custard made with Marsala wine or a liqueur. Cocoa powder is sprinkled on top of the dessert, which is refrigerated before being served.
History of Tiramisu
There is some debate regarding tiramisu's origin, as there is no documented mention of the dessert before 1983. In 1998, Fernando and Tina Raris similarly claimed that the dessert is a recent invention. They point out that while the recipes and histories of other layered desserts are very similar, the first documented mention of tiramisu in a published work appears in a Greek cookbook. Backing up this story, the authors recalled an article that tiramisu was created in 1971 in Treviso by Carminantonio Iannaccone.
Some claim that it was first created in Northern Italy during the First World War. Women made these desserts for their men to take with them as they were being sent off to war. They might have believed the high caffeine and energy content of these desserts would give their men more energy to fight and help bring them home safely.
Ladyfingers (called Savoiardi in Italian, meaning "from Savoy"), or in French 'Biscuits à la cuillère,' are a principal ingredient in many French dessert recipes. These cookies are light, crispy and sweet sponge cakes roughly shaped like a large finger. They should not be confused with the Lady's Finger, another name for the vegetable okra.
Today, their most common usage is in trifles, charlottes, and tiramisu. They are typically soaked in a sugar syrup or liqueur, such as coffee for the tiramisu dessert.
In the UK they may also be called sponge-fingers, trifle sponges or boudoir biscuits.
6 egg yolks
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 lb. mascarpone cheese, softened
2 cups chilled heavy cream
2 tbsp. rum
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 tbsp. plus 2 to 3 cups brewed espresso
5 egg whites
40 to 50 ladyfingers* (savoiardi may be used instead of ladyfingers)
Cocoa powder, for dusting
In a mixing bowl set over a pan of simmering water but not touching the water, whisk the egg yolks and sugar until the mixture is pale yellow and thick ribbons fall from the whisk, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer the mixture to the bowl of an electric mixer. Add the mascarpone cheese and beat until smooth and creamy, 2 to 3 minutes.
In a chilled large mixing bowl, whisk the cream until stiff peaks form. Add the rum, vanilla and the 2 tbsp. espresso and whisk until smooth.
In a clean mixing bowl, whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks form. (When the whisk is lifted straight out of the bowl and inverted, the whites should hold their shape.)
With a rubber spatula, gently fold the mascarpone mixture into the cream until blended and smooth. Add about 1 cup egg whites and fold gently until blended. Add the remaining egg whites and fold gently until the mixture is smooth and blended.
One at a time, submerge the ladyfingers into the 2 to 3 cups espresso. Lay enough ladyfingers on the bottom of a 6-quart glass or ceramic baking or serving dish (about 2 inches deep) to form a single layer. Spread half of the mascarpone mixture over the ladyfingers until evenly covered. Arrange another layer of ladyfingers over the mascarpone cream, then spread the remaining mascarpone cream evenly over the top. Dust the tiramisù with cocoa powder to create a rich, dark topping. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or up to 1 day before serving.
Makes 12-15 servings.
Date: February 7, 2009