Cream with mascarpone cheese, ladyfingers and coffee: this mix is the secret behind the best-loved, best-known and best-selling Italian dessert on Earth.
Tiramisù was first invented in a restaurant in Treviso, near Venice in the early 1970s with an idea based on the typical Italian rustic breakfast: mums used to beat egg yolks with sugar and dunk ladyfingers in the mix for their kids to have with their cup of caffelatte.
The basic recipe for tiramisù involves ladyfingers soaked in coffee and covered with a sweet cream made with fresh eggs and mascarpone cheese, and a generous sprinkling of cocoa powder.
But now there is a whole range of varieties you can find on restaurant menus all over the world: chocolate, caramel, with strawberries or other fruit or with its traditional ingredients served separately: ladyfingers, coffee and cream with mascarpone. In Florence, the star-studded chef Peter Brunel has served it flavoured with Vin Santo dessert wine and cantucci biscuits to honour Tuscan traditions, whereas Lidia Bastianich, the Lady of Italian cuisine in the USA, offers it in a summertime version flavoured with limoncello.
It is a dessert that many Italians like to prepare at home, often enriching the traditional recipe with a secret ingredient, such as cinnamon, macaroons or chocolate drops. Or they might replace the coffee with malt coffee or matcha tea; or the mascarpone cheese with ricotta cheese or even yoghurt, for a super light version. In short, every Italian family has its own way of making tiramisù.
In a survey carried out by Just Eat on home-delivered orders, tiramisù turned out to be the most popular one in Italy, with about 20 thousand kilos of product sold per year, beating Sicilian cannoli and Nutella croissants.
In some cities, there are even restaurants specialising in the famous dessert and for a number of years 21st March has been celebrated as Tiramisù Day www.tiramisuday.com , with competitions involving master pastry cooks, celebrities or simple tiramisù lovers who pay homage to this highly popular dessert.
Conversely, contestants come from all over the world to compete in the Tiramisù World Cup www.tiramisuworldcup.com , held every year in Treviso and among the Prosecco Hills, to find the finest recipe for Italy’s favourite dessert.