Tiramisu, which literally means “pick me up”, is a very popular Italian dessert. It is usually made of ladyfingers or savoiardi dipped in coffee, layered with a whipped mixture of mascarpone and egg yolks, and flavored with cocoa and liquor. The recipe has been adapted from different countries into varieties of cakes, puddings and other desserts.
There are many versions regarding the real origin of tiramisu. It may have originated as one of the variation of another popular layered dessert, which is the Zuppa Inglese.
It was mentioned in Giovanni Capnist’s 1983 cookbook the “Dolci Del Veneto”, while Merriam-Webster’s Online Dictionary claims that it was in their 1982 edition it was first mentioned as a dessert.
Several sources claim that tiramisu was invented by a confectioner Roberto Linguanotto in Treviso at Le Beccherie restaurant, which is the god-daughter and apprentice of Francesca Valori. The name of the dessert was known to come from her, whose maiden name was Tiramisu. It was believed that Linguanotto named the dish after Francesca’s name to honour her culinary skill.
Other sources report the origin of the cake in the city of Siena. Some confectioners were believed to have made this dessert in honour of Cosimo III the time he visited the city. Moreover, accounts by Carminantonio Iannaccone established the creation of tiramisu by him as researched and written about by The Washington Post on 24 December 1969 in Via Sottotreviso. He was the head chef at Treviso back then, which was near Venice.
Countless variations for tiramisu exist nowadays. Some cooks use other sweet or cakes or yeasted breads, like panettone, as alternative to ladyfingers. Other cheese mixtures are used too, some may contain raw eggs, and others may have no eggs at all. Liqueurs are frequently substituted for the traditional Marsala wine in both the the cheese mixture and the coffee, which includes dark rum, port, Madeira, cognac and brandy.