Tiramisu is now a popular dessert in the United States. It can be found at almost every Italian-American restaurant, and in some other eateries as well. But where did Tiramisu come from?
A Short History of Tiramisu
Tiramisu, also known as “Tuscan Trifle,” is a delicious Italian custard-like dessert originating in the region of Treviso, Italy. The origins of this dessert have long been disputed, but research suggests that it originated in the late 1960’s or early 1970’s. Debunked myths have dated Tiramisu’s origin to the 17th century when a similar dessert was created for The Grand Duke Cosimo de’ Medici III. The Grand Duke visited the northwest province of Tuscany where this similar dish was named the “Duke’s Soup.” The Duke brought this dessert back to Florence, Italy where it became popular.
Though these dishes have similarities, Tiramisu as we know it was not created until around the 1970’s. This dessert was accidentally made in a restaurant called Le Beccherie in Italy. The original recipe was more of a custard than a cake, but many variations have led to the signature layered cake design. The dessert quickly became popular among the locals and variations of the recipe spread throughout Italy and other parts of Europe. Tiramisu, meaning “pick me up” because of the added espresso, incorporates various decadent flavors that give it its distinct taste.
Tiramisu’s Rise to International Popularity
Tiramisu became a main staple in Italian restaurants and bakeries and it soon made its way out of Italy and across the world. In the early 1980’s, Tiramisu became a major dessert preference in almost every Italian restaurant and bakery in New York City. Most restaurants stick to the original recipe, but others have their own variations. The original recipe featured a circular Tiramisu cake shape, but the square shape has become the most distinct feature of modern tiramisu. Locals in New York raved about the dish and it soon spread across the country after its induction into American food culture. Its chocolatey, mocha-flavored taste has become a popular dessert in American culture and you can find this dish in most Italian restaurants in the United States.
What’s in Tiramisu?
If you haven’t had the pleasure of trying Tiramisu, think of it as a light coffee/chocolate pudding with lady finger pastries soaked with strong espresso coffee and a tantalizing hint of the liquor. The recipe is very simple and an easy task for first timers. The main ingredients of this dish are Savioardi (Ladyfinger biscuits), egg yolks, mascarpone, cocoa, coffee, and sometimes brandy or cognac to enhance the coffee flavor. Some chefs use rum or marsala instead of brandy based on preference. The ladyfingers are soaked in espresso coffee until their texture is sponge-like, while the custard is made from whisking the eggs, sugar, and milk. The ladyfingers are then laid on the bottom of the foundation and topped with custard.
The chefs repeat this process until it is perfectly layered. The top layer of the custard is then generously powdered with cocoa and espresso coffee. After biting into this layered custard, you first taste the smooth cool cream of mascarpone cheese and then a hint of the coffee and the espresso-soaked ladyfinger sponges. The original recipe has changed throughout the years, but the taste has remained relatively consistent. Le Beccherie’s original recipe did not include alcohol or cheese, but many people have put their own spin on this famous recipe.
If you’d like to try Tiramisu for yourself, visit Italian Garden in San Marcos, TX.