Foods | Cooking
Hints & Tips
Tiramisu (tih-ruh-mee-SOO) -
The Italian translation for tiramisu is "carry me up." Also known as Tuscan Trifle.
Tradition tiramisu is a pudding-like dessert that usually consists of sponge cake or ladyfingers dipped
in a liqueur, then layered with grated chocolate and rich custard. Tramisu was originally made as a loose custard, it is only in recent years that using
mascarpone cheese has come into fashion.
Photo from Kraft Foods
Photo from TiramiSutra
Legend or Myth:
17th century - A dessert similar to tiramisu was was created in Siena,
in the northwestern Italian province of Tuscany. The occasion was a visit by Grand Duke
Cosimo de' Medici III (1642-1723), in whose honor the concoction was dubbed zuppa
del duca (the "duke's soup"). He brought the recipe back with him to
Florence. In the 19th century, tiramisu became extremely popular among the English
intellectuals and artists who lived in Florence. The dessert made its way to England,
where its popularity grew.
According to the article,
The Trail of Tiramisu, by Jane Black, Washington Post newspaper, July 11,
2007, the present day version of tiramisu was said to have been created in a
restaurant in Treviso, located northwest of Venice on Italy's northern
Adriatic coast, called Le Beccherie. Carminantonio Iannaccone clains
to have invented the tiramisu:
"Iannaccone's story is
simple. He trained as a pastry chef in the
southern city of Avellino, then migrated to
Milan to find work at the age of 12. In 1969
he married his wife, Bruna, and opened a
restaurant also called Piedigrotta in
Treviso, where he cooked up a dessert based
on the "everyday flavors of the region":
strong coffee, creamy mascarpone, eggs,
Marsala and ladyfinger cookies. He says it
took him two years to perfect the recipe,
which was originally served as an elegant,
"Tiramisu, which means
"pick me up" -- a reference to its shot of
espresso -- was an instant hit. Chefs,
Iannaccone says, came to taste it, and soon
they were either making their own versions
or he was supplying them with his. By the
early '80s, tiramisu had become ubiquitous
throughout Italy and beyond."
The Timeless Art of Italian Cuisine - Centuries
of Scrumptious Dining by Anna Maria Volpi, states the following from her research on the history of tiramisu:
"Later in my research the oldest recipe I could
find was in the book by Giovanni Capnist I Dolci del Veneto (The Desserts of
Veneto). The first edition was published in 1983 and has a classic recipe for
Tiramisu. Recent recipe with infinite variations from the town of Treviso, says Capnist, discovery of restaurants more then family tradition.
But the final word on the origin of Tiramisu
is from the book by Fernando e Tina Raris La Marca Gastronomica published in
1998, a book entirely dedicated to the cuisine from the town of Treviso. The authors
remember what Giuseppe Maffioli wrote in an article in 1981: Tiramisu was born
recently, just 10 years ago in the town of Treviso. It was proposed for the first time in
the restaurant Le Beccherie. The dessert and its name became immediately extremely
popular, and this cake and the name where copied by many restaurants first in Treviso then
all around Italy. Still today the restaurant Le Beccherie makes the
dessert with the classical recipe: ladyfingers soaked in bitter strong espresso coffee,
mascarpone-zabaglione cream, and bitter cocoa powder. Alba and Ado Campeol, owners of the
restaurant regret they didnt patent the name and the recipe, especially to avoid all
the speculation and guesses on the origin of this cake, and the diffusion of so many
recipes that have nothing to do with the original Tiramisu."
Researcher Pietro Mascioni traces the dessert back to the 1960's, to a town in
Tuscany called Treviso.
"Born recently, less than two decades ago, in the
city of Treviso, is a dessert called Tiramesu which was made for the first
time in a restaurant, Alle Beccherie, by a pastry chef called Loly
Linguanotto. The story is very credible, said Mascioni, who traveled to Treviso to talk to the Campeols
last fall. There, matriarch Alba Campeol told Mascioni that she got the idea
for the dessert after the birth of one of her children. She was very weak in
bed and her mother-in-law brought her a zabaglione, spiked with coffee to
give her energy.
1990s - In America, its popularity began in San Francisco, and today,
Tiramisu can be found in restaurants throughout the United States.
Love your site on
Tiramisu. I was doing some research on this delicious dessert so I can
make it at home and stumbled upon it today. Interested in its history as
a young man, I was told of its origin many years ago by my uncle, who
was born in Sicily in 1916. I am a first generation American and my
family immigrated from Sicily. My uncle traveled the
world, during his years in business, manufacturing ink ribbons for
typewriters and then computer printers. My uncle was the man who
invented the machine that put the carbon onto carbon paper and the
ribbons back in the 1950’s, and he patented it. He did quite well for
himself over the years and told me of his escapades in Italy where he
patronized those same bordellos. He told me a similar story regarding
brothels, or bordellos as he referred to them. He said it was the
patrons, not the courtesans, that were offered the Tiramisu.
According to my
uncle, he was told that it started back in the late 19th
century when the competition between bordellos was fierce. As the story
goes, one bordello offered espresso coffee as a complimentary beverage
after a customer patronized it’s establishment. Once word got out, the
others followed suit to attract more customers. As the competition
increased so did the complimentary drinks, from just espresso, to
espresso and savoiardi cookies (like lady finger cookies, which were
commonly dunked in the espresso), and possibly a cordial or wine. One
Madam in particular took all of these ingredients, combined them. and
created this confection adding eggs and Mascarpone cheese to the
The name Tiramisu or
Tira Mi Su means “Pick me up” in Italian, and it is translated to mean
"an energy booster." The patrons originally enjoyed the energy boost
that espresso gave them after sex so they could go about the rest of
their daily activity, instead of wanting to take a nap afterwards. After
the onslaught of desserts that were offered during that competitive era,
Tiramisu became popularized due to the protein, sugar, and caffeine (and
sometimes alcohol) it contained. Courtesans were not
treated good enough to be given this expensive treat. and it was
certainly the patrons who appreciated it enough to return to those that
offered it. I’m sure that due to the sensitive nature of how one might
have learned about this delicious dessert, the story was changed as to
not “incriminate” oneself.
So my thinking is, as
the word got out to all the other bordellos, it eventually reached that
“brothel above the restaurant” and became famous. =) My 2 cents…
Charlie (Calogero) Villareale
(I grew up on Long Island, NY but now reside in Ormond Beach, FL)
Yields: serves many
Prep time: 60 min
1 pound Italian Savoiardi (lady fingers) (see recipe below)*
Espresso Coffee Syrup (see recipe below)
Mascarpone Filling (see recipe below)
Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
* You can
either make your own savoiardi (lady fingers) or purchase them. Naturally,
the best tasting ones are the homemade lady fingers.
Prepare and bake the
Savoiardi (Lady Fingers); set aside.
Prepare Coffee Syrup; set aside.
Prepare Mascarpone Filling; set aside.
To Assemble the
Tiramisu: Line the inside of a loaf
pan with a large sheet of wax paper, making sure the wax paper is large
enough to hang down the sides of the pan. Place half (1/2 pound) of the
Savoiardis (lady fingers) in the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle with 1/2 the
Espresso Coffee Syrup, spread 1/4 of the Mascarpone Filling over the top,
and then 1/3 of the shaved chocolate. Repeat with the remaining lady
fingers, the remaining Espresso Coffee Syrup, and another 1/4 of the
Mascarpone Filling (smoothing it over the top). Add another 1/3 of the
shaved chocolate. Bring up the flaps of wax
paper, folding it over the top and then wrap the entire pan in plastic
wrap. Refrigerate at least 6 hours, but preferably overnight.
Tiramisu: When ready to serve, remove
from the refrigerator, remove the plastic wrap, and fold back the wax paper.
Invert the loaf pan onto a large serving platter, tapping the bottom to
remove the loaf. Remove the wax paper.
Hand mix the remaining
Mascarpone Filling until creamy again. Spread the filling over the top of
the entire tirarmisu loaf with a spatula. Sprinkle with the remaining shaved
chocolate and dust with cocoa power.
Slice and enjoy! Gustuso!
1/2 cup corn starch
1 cup sifted cake
3/4 cup granulated sugar, divided
1 tablespoons butter or margarine
Powdered (confectioner's) Sugar
Preheat oven to 375 degrees
F. (185 degrees C.). Spray a large baking sheet with non-stick cooking
spray, dust with flour and discard any that doesn't stick.
In a small bowl, combine
the corn starch and sifted cake flour.
In another bowl, beat the
egg yolks with 1/4 cup sugar.
In a large bowl using your
electric mixer, whip the egg whites until stiff. Slowly
incorporate the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar. Fold the egg yolk mixture in the egg white mixture. Then fold in the flour/corn starch mixture.
Pour or spoon the batter
into a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain tip. Pipe 5-inch long strips
of the batter, about 1-inch apart, onto the prepared baking sheet. Let the
batter strips sit for 1 to 2 minutes and then dust the strips with sifted
powdered sugar. Bake for approximately 10 minutes. They should puff up,
brown lightly, and still be soft. Remove from oven and leave on the baking
sheet for approximately 5 minutes before placing them on a cooling rack.
Ladyfingers keep 2 to 3
weeks in an airtight container.
Makes approximately 20 to
25 lady fingers.
Espresso Coffee Syrup:
2/3 cup strong-brewed espresso
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 ounces Amaretto Di Saronno liqueur
3 egg yolks
In a small saucepan over
low heat, combine espresso coffee and sugar; bring just to a simmer,
stirring occasionally, to dissolve the sugar. Remove from heat and let cool.
Once cooled, stir in the Amaretto Di Saronno liqueur. Place mixture in
a large mixing bowl and add 3 egg yolks. With with your electric mixer, beat
approximately 2 to 3 minutes.
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 ounces Amaretto Di Saronno liqueur
1 pound mascarpone cheese, softened to room temperature
In a large bowl using your
electric mixer, place the heavy whipping cream, sugar, Amaretto Di Saronno
liqueur, and egg whites; beat until soft peaks form. Fold the softened
mascarpone cheese into the whipped mixture and then gently mix until creamy.
Linda Stradley - By
What's Cooking America© copyright 2004 by Linda Stradley - United States Copyright TX 5-900-517- All rights reserved. -