Tiramisu is a cool, refreshing Italian dessert that once tasted, leaves an indelible impression on you. Tiramisu is a coffee-flavored Italian cake dessert. But, what does tiramisu mean? In Italian, tiramisu means “pick me up” or “lift me up.” Usually, Tiramisu is a coffee-flavored Italian cake dessert. In Italian, tiramisu means “pick me up” or “lift me up.” Usually, easy tiramisu recipes consist of ladyfingers dipped in coffee. It is layered with a whipped mixture of eggs, sugar, and mascarpone cheese, dusted with cocoa on top. But, it also comes with different variations.
Tiramisu is creamy and rich from the mascarpone cream mixture which consists of egg yolks, sugar, mascarpone cheese, and whipped cream. There is also an aroma of coffee and liquor. But, that description just doesn’t do it justice. I’ll have to describe it for you in more graphic terms. Let’s see now, for those of you who’ve never had it before, how would I describe it?
Well, first of all, think of a very light chocolate pudding. Now add in a little bit of body. Not heaviness, but substance- you know, the kind of fullness that rich foods feel like in your mouth. Except that it doesn’t taste rich, and it doesn’t stay in your mouth long enough to become cloying. It tastes, well, dreamy.
Then, imagine this very light almost-like-mocha-flavored-whipped-cream concoction on lady finger pastry soaked with strong espresso coffee. Got that? Light, creamy, smooth ladyfingers, the rich aroma of strong coffee with the hint of the liquor. Suddenly, you get a teeny explosion of chocolate on your tongue that disappears in a flash. Got all that? That´s tiramisu !!!
What are ladyfingers?
It’s such a strange name for a food item isn’t it- haha! It doesn’t really explain what they are / they do. Ladyfingers are a sweet, quite dry cookie/sponge. They are long in length and are pretty flat. They are used in many desserts like tiramisu and cream-based trifles. When they are exposed to moisture like coffee, cream, or even alcohol, they take on the moisture and become cake, it’s pretty magical. You can find non-vegan ladyfingers in supermarkets, but if you’re looking for the cruelty-free, vegan version, you’ll have to make your own homemade version.
History of Tiramisu
Tiramisu was invented in Italy, possibly developed based on Zuppa Inglese, an Italian trifle dessert. However, the origin of Tiramisu is often disputed between Italian regions.
Most food historians believe that it was invented in the 1960s at a restaurant in Treviso, Italy. One of the chefs, and his god-daughter (also his apprentice), claimed to invent Tiramisu around that time. So, in honor of her culinary skills, this delicious cake was named after her maiden name, Tiramisu.
However, other sources tell us that the dessert is a good deal older, created by a Treviso madam as an aphrodisiac for her clients- ‘a Viagra from the 19th century’, as they put it. Although this theory isn’t given many credits by food historians, it may explain why the name translates as ‘pick-me-up’ in a local dialect. It also makes sense why the dessert has only started to appear on respectable menus relatively recently.
Regardless of tiramisu’s true origin, recipes for tiramisu are unknown in cookbooks before the 1960s and the term, tiramisu, was first mentioned in the Italian-language dictionary in 1980.
Traditional tiramisu recipes contain finger biscuits, egg yolks, sugar, coffee, mascarpone cheese, and cocoa powder. Moreover, in the original recipe, there are no liquor or egg whites. It was purely vegan.
The original shape of the cake is round. Today tiramisu is mostly in rectangular shape due to the tile-arrangement of ladyfinger biscuits. (See Left Photo) It is often assembled in glassware or transparent bakeware to show the various layers of ingredients. Over time, coffee is the main flavor but there are others such as chocolate, amaretto, berry, lemon, strawberry, pineapple, yogurt, banana, raspberry, coconut, and even beer.
How to make tiramisu
It’s easy to tell if you’ve made a tiramisu just right. Each bite will have rich yet airy yellowish cream, a touch of alcohol, and dreamily soft, but not mushy, coffee-flavored ladyfingers. It should also have a subtle sweetness with just the right bitterness from the coffee and cocoa powder. Here are the 3 easy tiramisu recipes:
1. Easy tiramisu recipes: Traditional tiramisu
- 300 g Savoiardi Ladyfingers
- 500 g of mascarpone cheese
- 4 medium eggs
- 100 g of granulated sugar
- 300 ml of coffee (better if espresso)
- 2 tablespoons of Rum or Marsala
- unsweetened cocoa powder
- First of all, make the coffee from an espresso machine. Then add 2 tablespoons of Rum or Marsala wine. This is optional. If you don’t like liquors or you are making Tiramisu for children, don’t use it. Your tiramisu is great all the same, even without liquor. Set aside and let it cool.
- Separate egg whites from yolks. Take a bowl and whip the egg whites until stiff: you will get at it when the egg whites will not move if you turn the bowl over. When ready, set aside.
- Now in a bowl whisk the egg yolks with the sugar until pale and smooth, 3 to 5 minutes.
- In the meantime, pour the mascarpone cheese into a bowl and work it with a spoon to make it softer. When the egg yolks are ready add the mascarpone cheese.
- So, now take the flex edge beater, whisk the mascarpone cream slowly for 2 or 3 minutes. Now add stiffen egg whites.
- Mix with a wooden spoon, from bottom to top. Mix slowly until it’s smooth and creamy.
- Now we are going to make the layers of ladyfingers and mascarpone cream. So dip quickly (1 or 2 seconds) Savoiardi Ladyfingers into the coffee. IMPORTANT! Savoiardi should not engage too much coffee, otherwise, your Tiramisu will turn out too soggy. Then place them in a ceramic or glass cooking pan.
- Arrange them to cover the bottom of the pan. Spread the mascarpone cream on top of the Savoiardi.
- Add another layer of Savoiardi and then cover with more mascarpone cream. If you are making the last layer, spread plenty of mascarpone cream. Tiramisu is ready!
- Finally, sprinkle with cocoa powder. Let rest for 3 hours in the refrigerator before serving.
2. Easy tiramisu recipes: Vegan tiramisu recipe
As I´ve already said that there are many variations on types of tiramisu. There are many ways to make it. It also includes vegan tiramisu for vegetarians. Here is a tiramisu recipe without eggs.
- 250ml pot whippable plant cream
- 1 tbsp icing sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
- 2 tbsp coffee liqueur, or dark rum
- 100ml coffee cooled
- 1½ tbsp golden caster sugar
- 2 tbsp cocoa powder
For the sponge:
- 100g dairy-free spread, plus extra for the tin
- 200ml dairy-free milk
- ½ tbsp cider vinegar
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 125g golden caster sugar
- 200g self-raising flour
- ½ tsp baking powder
- Heat the oven. First, make the sponge. Using a little dairy-free spread, butter and line the bottom of the pan.
- Put the dairy-free milk in a jug and stir in the vinegar and extract, and leave for a few minutes to thicken. Beat the dairy-free spread and sugar together until creamy, then beat in the thickened milk mixture, flour, a pinch of salt, and the baking powder until you have a smooth batter.
- Scrape the batter into the tin and bake for 20-25 mins until lightly golden and risen, and a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the middle. Leave to cool in the tin for 10 mins, then transfer to a rack to cool completely.
- Whip the plant cream with the icing sugar and vanilla bean paste until softly whipped. Mix the liqueur, coffee, and caster sugar in a bowl. Cut the cooled sponge into sponge fingers.
- Add half the sponge fingers to a small serving dish, breaking them up to fill any gaps. Using a pastry brush, brush the sponge with some of the coffee mixtures. Spoon over half the cream mixture, then adds the remaining sponge fingers.
- Brush again with the coffee mixture, then add the remaining cream and chill for a few hours or overnight. Sieve over the cocoa powder to serve.
3. Easy tiramisu recipes: Tiramisu with alcohol
- 2 egg yolks
- 40g caster sugar
- 1 vanilla pod (not essential but does taste nice)
- 250g tub of mascarpone cheese
- About 15 to 20 sponge fingers (they could be called Savoiardi in some shops)
- strong black coffee, sweetened- about 3-4 espresso cups
- Wine glassful of booze of your choice – Tia Maria, marsala wine, Amaretto, even brandy would work
- Whisk egg yolks and sugar together with an electric whisk until moussey and creamy looking.
- Add vanilla seeds that you have scraped out of the pod.
- This time add mascarpone and beat again.
- Gradually add the alcohol and keep whisking until it looks nice and shiny and thick – don’t make it too runny. Save some of the booze to put in the coffee mixture – about 2 – 3 tbs.
- Pour the coffee and remaining alcohol into a shallow bowl and briefly dip the sponge biscuits in to soak up the mixture. Put a layer of these in a bowl or deep dish. Layer with the cream mixture until all used up.
- Sprinkle some cocoa powder or grated dark chocolate over the top if you like, to make it look pretty. Stick in the fridge for a couple of hours until it’s firmer.
If you want to know more about Italian food and desserts, click here.
If you want to read more articles like this, click here.