Tiramisu is a coffee-flavored Italian dessert. Made of ladyfingers dipped in coffee, and then layered with a whipped mixture of eggs, sugar, and mascarpone cheese, Tiramisu was “discovered” in the US in the 1990s in San Francisco. Since then, it has become an international phenomenon.
The recipe has been adapted into many varieties of cakes and other desserts. In Italy, the regions Veneto and Friuli Venezia Giulia have a dispute over the origins of the recipe.
Origin of the Name
Speaking of the name, Tiramisu translates to “pick me up” or “lift me up”. That is a direct reference to the espresso used in the recipe, as we know that coffee is the first thing that picks you up in the morning.
Speaking of the origins of the name, as we said, there is a dispute. One theory suggests that the semi-frozen dessert of the name Tiremesu was served by the Vetturino restaurant in the region of Friuli Venezia Giulia since 1938.
Used in Brothels
The other theory, and the dispute, is that the dessert comes from the region of Veneto, or the Italian city Treviso.
The theory suggests that the dessert was given to clients in Italian brothels to give them a little pick me up during their sessions.
The dessert, made with generous amounts of sugar and alcohol, gave a boost to brothel patrons who needed both real energy and some liquid courage to remain motivated. And women loved it because customers stayed longer and paid more.
Variations of the dessert
We said in the beginning there are many variations of the popular dessert. The original shape of the cake is round.
But the shape of the biscuits allow the use of a rectangular or square pain. Traditionally, though, it is served in round glasses that show the various layers.
Modern versions of tiramisu have whipped cream or whipped eggs, making the dish lighter, thick, and foamy.
There is another variation that involves preparation of the cream with eggs heated to sterilize it, but not so much that the eggs scramble.
Over the years, variations have included chocolate, amaretto, berry, lemon, strawberry, pineapple, yogurt, banana, coconut, and more. Yet, they are not considered a true tiramisu. These variations only share the layered characteristic of the Italian dessert.
Some chefs also use yeasted breads in place of ladyfingers. Bakers in Italian regions like to debate the structural qualities of other types of cookies, like pavesini.
Tiramisu in Guinness
Tiramisu has entered the Guinness Book of World Records. The Friuli Venezia Giulia regions holds the record for largest tiramisu. It is 3,015kg or 6,646lbs. It was prepared by Associazione Cons.erva in collaboration with several coffee shops in the region on May 25, 2015.
The longest tiramisu, on the other hand, measures 273m or 897 ft, and was prepared by Galbani Santa Lucia in Milan, Italy, on March 16, 2019. It was prepared by students of the Milan cooking school directed by Chef Stefano Callegaro.
Tiramisu in Space
Tiramisu has become an international phenomenon. It was loved even in space. Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano requested a special menu for his stay in orbit in 2013. He couldn’t wait to get back home to eat this delight, so he ordered one for space. And Turin chef Davide Scabin prepared a formula for the absence of gravity, a dehydrated tiramisu.
Loved in China
China is the biggest economy in the world. They have everything you can imagine. And in China, tiramisu is the most clicked Italian word on the internet. So, they love some pick me up dessert.
Let’s finish off with the International Tiramisu Day, celebrated on March 21st. It was first created in 2017 by food writers and journalists Clara and Gigi Padovani.
They wrote about the history of Italian gastronomy, and dedicated a whole book to the famous Italian dessert.