What Is Tiramisu? The Best Dessert?
What is tiramisu? Tiramisu is my favorite dessert, but it came as a surprise to me to discover that no one seems to know when it was invented. Instead of having an exact year of invention or even an exact inventor, there seem to be many legends surrounding the origins of this delectable concoction.
Keep reading to learn more about the origins of tiramisu and what it’s made of.
A Brief History of Tiramisu
In Italian, tiramisu literally means “pick me up.” What makes this dessert interesting is that, no matter how hard you try, you won’t be able to find any mentions or recipes for this in any books published before the 1960s. It was only mentioned in texts in the 1980s. However, it is believed that this dessert came about a couple of decades before this.
Today, it is believed that tiramisu was invented in 1969 in Treviso by Alba di Pillo, the wife of Ado Campeol who was the owner of the restaurant Le Beccherie. Apparently, Alba wanted to eat something that would give her a boost of energy, so she created tiramisu. However, there are many stories, some of which are more fantastical than others, explaining tiramisu’s possible origins.
For example, some believe that tiramisu was an aphrodisiac invented in brothels in the 1800s. Others believe that a landlady called Norma Pielli invented the dish in the 1930s and served it to hikers who rented out her rooms. But if you travel to Siena in Tuscany, you might find some people who are confident that this cake is a dish that has a history spanning all the way back to the 17th century, created to please the Grand Duke, Cosimo III de Medici.
What Is Tiramisu?
Now that you know where this cake comes from (kind of), you might be wondering what the dessert might be made of. Interestingly enough, even though a lot of tiramisus today is laced with liquor, the original recipes did not contain any alcohol. For that reason, many tiramisu competitions (which actually exist) do not allow the participating chefs to use alcohol.
While tiramisu with all its layers may look complicated, it actually consists of a small list of ingredients. Ladyfingers, also known as Savoiardi, are very important as they give the dessert a special crunch that contrasts against layers of cream. To get the right flavor, these ladyfingers are soaked in coffee, although modern variations may soak them in alcohol.
To fold between the ladyfingers you will need to add mascarpone, a sweet and creamy cheese. With the mascarpone, you will need to add some eggs (although some chefs insist on only using egg yolks). Using the whole egg, including the whites, along with the cheese will create a lighter and fluffier tiramisu.
Once you layer all of these ingredients, you will need to add a dusting of chocolate powder over the top. It is important not to eat the dessert right after creating it. Instead, according to seasoned tiramisu-creators, you should let the dessert rest for a few hours. This will give the flavors in the tiramisu plenty of time to mingle and settle. Then, finally, this delight should be ready to eat (and ready to impress your friends).