editor: Joseph McVeigh
If cannoli is the champion of Italian desserts, tiramisu is the challenger. Although it may seem that tiramisu has been around for as long as cannoli (and in a perfect world it would have been), most people don’t know that tiramisu – as we know it today- was not created until the early 1970s by a chef named Roberto Linguanotto in the city of Treviso, Italy.
One reason tiramisu is famous is because of the rumors that surround its invention. Rumors that were not fully cleared up internationally until recently. The first of such rumors claims that tiramisu was created in the town of Siena for Duke Cosimo de Medici. The other main story is more racy and alleges that tiramisu, which translates to “pick-me-up”, was used by prostitutes to revitalize their stamina. Both tales bear some truth in that layered cakes have been around for a long time and that the eggs, sugar, and caffeine in tiramisu are energizing. But the cakes made for dukes and demimondaines were not the tiramisu we know and love today. The credit for that famous cake goes to Roberto Linguanotto and the Beccherie restaurant.
Mr. Linguanotto began work as a pastry chef at the Beccherie restaurant in Treviso in 1970. He says he was inspired by owner Mrs. Alba Campeol to “devise new, simple flavor combinations respecting the local tradition.” What he came up with is a masterpiece. Tiramisu combines simplicity with excellence to be one of Italy’s most famous and favorite desserts. But Mr. Linguanotto, despite being the creator of such a sensation, remains sensible. On his website (www.tiramisu.it/whoiam.html), he says, “I have kept trying to conceive new ideas, with just one goal in mind: my customers’ satisfaction” and that he feels “rewarded by everything I’ve managed to learn.” I think we are all rewarded by what he has managed to teach.
1 1/2 cups espresso coffee
2 teaspoons sugar
4 medium eggs
1/2 cup and 2 tsps. sugar
1 lb mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
35-40 savoiardi (ladyfinger cookies)
2 tablespoons bitter cocoa powder
4 ounces of dark dark chocolate shaved (for top of cake)
Prepare a strong espresso coffee. Dissolve two teaspoons sugar in it, while the coffee is still hot. Let the coffee cool to room temperature. Seperate egg yolks from egg whites into 2 different bowls.
Add ¼ cup sugar to egg yolks and beat till creamy. In seperate bowl, beat mascarpone cheese till creamy. Continue beating while adding in (a little at a time) egg yolk/sugar mixture.
Then beat egg whites with ¼ cup sugar and pinch of salt till soft peaks form. Fold egg whites gently into mascarpone mixture with wooden spoon.
Dip half of the ladyfingers in the coffee and place in the pan in a single layer.
Spread half of the mascarpone cream on the layer of ladyfingers..
Dip the remaining ladyfingers in the coffee and
Spread the remaining mascarpone cream on top of second layer of ladyfingers.
Sprinkle with cocoa powder and decorate with chocolate shavings and refrigerate for about three to four hours.
This is the original tiramisu recipe. If you want to make this a bit lighter, I find that a mixture of 1-8 ounce container of plain lowfat yogurt whipped together with 1-8 ounce pakage of non-fat or lowfat cream cheese makes a great lower calorie substitute for the mascarpone cheese and eggs.
Substitute artificial sweetener for the sugar although there is not that much sugar I nteh recipe.
Ladyfingers are not high calories and the small amount of cocoa and chocolate are fine and not loaded with calories.
So either way you can enjoy the dessert!
For more great recipes get your copy of the best selling book The Basic Art of Italian Cooking at http://www.marialiberati.com