Everything that comes from Italy has a rich and interesting history. The delectably sweet dessert we know as Tiramisù is no different. There are multiple layers to this intoxicating pudding, and there are just as many tales about how, where and when it began. We all love a good story, but the best happy ending includes a classic recipe for Tiramisù. Then you can make it while retelling your own version of the story as often as you wish.
The magical version of Tiramisù goes pretty far back in history. In fact, the myth is as long ago as some year in the 1600′s, but then what self-respecting fairytale would start in the twentieth century? The story begins with a state visit by the Grand Duke Cosimo III to the town of Siena. Apparently, this Grand Duke was known to have quite the sweet tooth, and the Sienese decided to make him a truly unforgettable dessert. Naturally, he loved this new pudding so much that it became known as “Zuppa del Duca,” or “Duke’s Pudding.” This successful recipe then got passed on to Venice and other regions, becoming the popular treat it is today. The name was changed to “Tiramisù,” meaning “pick me up,” by Venetian courtesans because the ingredients were simultaneously tantalizing and stimulating. The very nature of this pudding made it perfect for enjoying before any type of afternoon delight.
That version is, unfortunately, more myth than truth. There is no mention of Tiramisù in any cookbook, Italian or otherwise, until 1983. The book is “I Dolci del Veneto,” correctly translated, “The Desserts of Veneto.” The author of that cookbook describes Tiramisù as a “recent recipe with infinite variations from the town of Treviso.” There are many other researched stories, but the town most often credited with the origin of Tiramisu is Treviso. Thankfully, wherever this delicious recipe was invented, it finally came to America. Enough of the stories. Let’s make this fabled pudding for ourselves and see what all the fuss is about.
- 6 egg yolks
- 1 1/4 cups of white sugar
- 1 1/4 cups of mascarpone cheese
- 1 3/4 cups heavy whipping cream
- 24 ladyfingers biscuits
- 2 cups of espresso or very strong coffee
- 1/3 cup Amaretto
- 2 Tablespoons cocoa powder, for dusting
- 1 bar semisweet chocolate for making chocolate shavings
Beat together all 6 egg yolks and 3 tablespoons of the sugar in a large bowl. Then add in the mascarpone cheese mix and blend on a low speed until the mixture is creamy.
Clean and dry your beaters. Whip the egg whites with the remaining sugar in a separate bowl, but just until they are stiff enough to form little peaks. Gently fold this into the mascarpone mixture until just blended.
Combine the espresso and alcohol in a shallow bowl.
Dip each ladyfinger into the coffee and alcohol mix, and then place it into a glass rectangular dish to make a single layer of ladyfingers. For the next layer, spoon on one half of the mascarpone cheese mix. Then lightly dust on some cocoa powder with a small, fine sieve. Repeat all three layers.
Cover with plastic film and place in the refrigerator for at least four to five hours. For best results, leave overnight. This allows the flavors to have time to come together.
Before serving, take a vegetable peeler and slide it down the side of a chilled semisweet chocolate bar. This will create some lovely curly shavings of chocolate. Place these on top of your finished pudding, cut and serve to your guests. Alternatively, you may find it easier to first cut into individual squares, place onto your serving dishes, and then decorate with additional chocolate shavings and a dusting of cocoa. For an additional touch of elegance, simply add a piece of fruit or a fresh mint for some extra color.
There is nothing like the romance of Italy to set our imaginations wandering to some little cafe in Venice with the sun warming our faces. Bite into this delectable dessert, and you are there.