Many English-speakers miss the clever meaning of this name, which is, in Italian, “Pick me up!” Despite what I thought, the invention of tiramisù are relatively recent, possibly at the El Toula restaurant in Treviso the 1960s, though of course food philologists will trace this back, like zuppa inglese, to eighteenth century cakes called “trifles.” One food blog calls the dish, “one of the latest additions to ‘traditional’ Italian cooking,” without a hint of sarcasm. Like zuppa inglese, the Savoy cookies that are the main ingredient of tiramisù are soaked in something (be it coffee, rum, or another liquer), then layered, with some sort of cream or spreadable cheese in between them. There are many other ingredients that wander in and out of the hundreds of canonical versions of the recipe, the main one being grated chocolate. The break-out moment for tiramisu in the States was doubtless the movie “Sleepless in Seattle,” where Tom Hanks shows how out of the dating game he is when he thinks “tiramisù” is a sexual position. ZN
The following is apparently Sophia Loren’s favorite version of the dessert:
* eggs, 3 separated
* sugar, 5 tablespoons
* mascarpone cheese, 6 ounces
* ladyfingers, 1 large package (approximately 36)
* orange liqeur, 1 cup
* espresso coffee, 1 cup
* bitter chocolate, 2 ounces, grated
* unsweetened cocoa powder, 1/2 cup, or 2 ounces grated bittersweet chocolate
1. Combine egg yolks and sugar in a medium-sized bowl and beat well.
2. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites to stiff peaks.
3. In a third, larger bowl, combine the egg yolk mixture with the mascarpone, then fold in the egg whites to produce a creamy mixture.
4. Arrange a tight layer of ladyfingers in a 9-by-12-inch serving dish.
5. Using a spoon, drizzle about half the liqueur and half the espresso over the ladyfingers.
6. Cover the ladyfingers with the mascarpone mixture and the grated chocolate, and dust it with a little more than half the cocoa.
7. Cover the filling with a second layer of ladyfingers and drizzle with the remaining liqueur and espresso.
8. Place the dish in the refrigerator for at least 12 hours (the Tiramisu can be made 24 hours in advance).
9. Top with the remaining cocoa before serving.
For several amusing origin stories for tiramisù, look at the Food Timeline.