What is tiramisu?
The Italian dessert tiramisu (Italian spelling tiramisù, pronounced: “tee-ra-mee-SOO”) literally means “pull me up” and lives up to its name: tiramisu gives you a real boost. It consists of layers of savoiardi (Italian sponge fingers) soaked in coffee and liqueur, interspersed with layers of creamy mascarpone mixed with egg. A layer of cocoa powder is sprinkled over the top. Tiramisu is actually an espresso, liqueur and dessert, all in one.
Don’t bother looking for the “real” recipe – it doesn’t exist. Frankly, there are as many versions as there are Italian mamas. Even the most basic tiramisu differs in just about every step of the preparation process: which parts of the egg are mixed with the mascarpone, how long the sponge fingers are infused in the espresso, and what alcohol is used.
Not to mention hip food blog variations. Tiramisu cheesecake, beetroot tiramisu, green tiramisu with matcha tea, yellow tiramisu with limoncello, and yes, even tiramisu mojito recipes can be found online.
Did you know...
Although everyone thinks of tiramisu as a classic dessert, it is actually a newcomer to Italian cuisine as the recipe is no more than fifty years old. According to most connoisseurs, the dessert was invented in the 1970s in the city of Treviso, north of Venice.
How to make tiramisu
First, the cream layer is prepared. Egg yolks are lightly whipped with sugar and blended with mascarpone, then beaten egg whites are folded through the mixture. Savoiardi biscuits (or sponge fingers) are dipped in a mixture of espresso and alcohol, long enough to give them a light coffee colour, but not so long that they fall apart. The liqueur can be anything you like, even in Canada. Marsala, brandy, triple sec, vin santo, or even rum may be used. Tiramisu may also be made without alcohol.
Mascarpone and sponge fingers are built up in alternating layers in a bowl. For a mini version, build up in individual glasses. Either way, two layers of savoiardi and three of mascarpone are the norm. The dish is finished with a layer of cocoa powder. Chilling is essential for the flavours to develop. After six hours, the dish is finally ready to serve.
How to eat
If you plan to eat it for dessert after a good meal, stick to a small portion. Otherwise, the combination of an over-full stomach and an excess of coffee plus a hefty sugar high will keep you awake until the wee small hours!