Quick watercolour sketch of a tiramisu pudding by the author
The classic tiramisu has been a popular dessert in many Italian restaurants throughout the world for a long time. Records of its creation date back to the late 1960s though there are several accounts of where and when it was first made including suggestions that it’s creation occurred centuries earlier.
One account is that it was first made in a restaurant called La Beccherie in Treviso by the restaurant owners at that time. Clearly they are keen to take credit for the invention of this great dish. While La Beccherie continues to serve tiramisu on its menu the original restaurant closed a few years ago and reopened under new management – though still under the Campeol family ownership.
Another story credits the place of invention in Siena some 300 to 400 years earlier.
I am inclined to believe the true origin of this dessert in the style “tiramisu”, which is one of my favourites, is in Le Baccherie. In my humble opinion, the confusion over the date of tiramisu’s birth arose from one of its key ingredients: the savoiardo biscuit. Savoiardi are the sponge cakes that are used to make tiramisu. They are also used in English trifles (known as zuppa inglese) which were originally produced in Elizabethan times. The English trifle of the 16th century supposedly used the savoiardi biscuits, so a principal ingredient found its way from Savoy to England.
Savoiardi, created in the Duchy of Savoy in the 15th century, are also known as Lady Fingers, champagne biscuits, sponge fingers and a host of other names in countries around the world. Tiramisu is a truly Italian dessert – more accurately, a Venetian desster and, more accurate still, a Trevisan dessert from the kitchen of Le Beccherie!
Tiramisu at Twister, Porto Santa Margherita, Veneto
During my last trip to Veneto I sampled Tiramisu in two restaurants (Netuno and Twister) in Porto Santa Margherita. Both versions were very good though the one at Twister was the better one for me. While I spent some time in Treviso on that trip (August 2017) I did not have the opportunity to eat at Le Beccherie – which now serves meals in a modern style though continuing to serve the tradition tiramisu alongside a “molectular” version. Next trip!
- 350 ml strong brewed coffee or espresso, cooled to room temperature
- 250 ml Marsala wine (optional, but without? Really?)
- 6 large egg yolks
- 150 grams sugar
- 450 grams mascarpone cheese
- 40 savoiardi-style biscuits (depending on the size of dish)
- Cocoa powder
The original tiramisu did not have the liqueur but I think marsala adds a nice taste – like sherry in English trifles. Some people add coffee liqueur or another spirit. To taste!
Mix the coffee and marsala in a shallow bowl.
Mix the sugar, egg yolks and mascarpone in another bowl
Place the biscuits in the coffee/marsala mix and allow to soak but not oversoak. The biscuits should not be allowed to go soggy!
Place the soaked biscuits in a glass dish – square or circular – whichever is available.
When the first biscuit layer is ready, add a layer of the cheese mix on top of the biscuits.
Repeat to create a second layer.
Optionally, place a thin layer of the cheese mix in the dish before adding the next two layers.
Top off with a dusting of the cocoa powder.
If there are any savoiardi biscuits left over, eat them with a cup of coffee … well deserved after spending half an hour preparing a great dessert!!
Chill in the fridge before serving.
Eat and enjoy!!