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Tiramisu (tih-ruh-mee-SOO) - iThe 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 Tramisu was originally made as a loose custard, it is only in recent years that using mascarpone cheese has come into fashion.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.

1970s 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, freestanding cake." "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 th e 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, mascarponezabaglione 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.
Sources The True History of Tiramisu' Cake, by Anna Maria Volpi, November 20, 2003, The Trail of Tiramisu, by Jane Black, Washington Post newspaper, July 11, 2007.

Tiramisu Recipe:
Recipe Type: Cakes, Dessert Cuisine: Italian Yields: serves many Prep time: 60 min

Ingredients: 1 pound Italian Savoiardi (lady fingers) (see recipe below)* Espresso Coffee Syrup (see recipe below) Mascarpone Filling (see recipe below)

1/2 pound shaved chocolate 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.

Preparation: 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. Serving the 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!

Savoiardi (Lady Fingers): 1/2 cup corn starch 1 cup sifted cake flour 4 eggs, separated 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 coffee 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.

Mascarpone Filling: 1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream 1/3 cup granulated sugar 2 ounces Amaretto Di Saronno liqueur 3 egg whites 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.