Tiramisù needs little introduction. Over the last 50 years this modern classic of Italian cuisine has taken the world by storm to become the most famous Italian dessert of all time.
Introduction and eggs
There are so many recipes on the Internet purporting to be ‘classic tiramisù’ that I’ve ever shared mine before. I have shared my recipe for a tiramisù cake, which is pretty close although I made the sponge myself and made a kind of crema pasticcera instead of the traditional crema al mascarpone because the latter uses raw eggs. Eating raw eggs in desserts is considered to be safe as along as a few basic precautions are respected. These include separating the yolks and whites with an egg separator or your hands rather than the egg shells, not allowing the eggs to stand outside the fridge for a long time, and consuming the dessert within 24 hours.
The other day, however, one of my readers asked me for the classic recipe so I have decided to publish it along with a few pointers and advice as to how I make it. You should be able to serve a classic tiramisù in blocks but too often it is runny. I will now show you how.
Savoiardi or pavesini?
There is a debate in Italy as to whether tiramisù should be made with savoiardi or pavesini biscuits. The latter are thinner, crunchier, variation on the former sold under a brand name which belongs to Barilla. The recipe which I (and most other people) accept to be the original one uses savoiardi although it works really well with pavesini.
Mascarpone, sometimes referred to somewhat erroneously as mascarpone cheese is a kind of clotted cream made by curdling cream with lemon juice. It originates from between Lodi and Abbiategrasso, both in the region of Lombardy. As with many things, quality varies wildly and I find the better quality ones are more consistent and work better with tiramisù. I tend to use this one here which is widely available in Italy.
The exact amount of ingredients you will need depend o the size of your dish. I made mine in a 20cm x 20cm square dish which worked perfectly for two layers of savoiardi and cream. If you need to use more then you can increase the amount of cream by adding 1 egg and 1 tablespoon of sugar for every 100g (2/5 cup or 3 1/2 ounces) of mascarpone. So for 600g of mascarpone you need 6 eggs and 6 tablespoons and so on.
Use the best quality Italian coffee you can find. Coffee is the real protagonist of this dish. I use coffee made in a Moka using my favourite brand of Neapolitan coffee Passalacqua.
Tiramisù literally means ‘pick me up’ and the name refers to the presence of alcohol as well as the caffeine shot. The original recipe calls for Marsala wine, a sweet wine from the town of Marsala in Sicily. Any other sweet Italian passito wine will do or failing that a sweet sherry. As a further alternative a coffee liqueur such as Tia Maria would also work well. A family friendly tiramisù without alcohol is also acceptable.
A final note on the origins of tiramisù. It is not, as many people think, an ancient dessert. It doesn’t really appear mentioned in print until the early 1980s. The best claim for its invention goes to Roberto Linguanotto who was a pastry chef at the restaurant Alle Beccherie in Treviso, near Venice. Other claims, most notably from the Friuli Venezia-Giulia region, exist.