Tiramisu is a coffee-flavoured Italian dessert. It is made of ladyfingers (savoiardi) dipped in coffee, layered with a whipped mixture of eggs, sugar, and mascarpone cheese, flavoured with cocoa. The recipe has been adapted into many varieties of cakes and other desserts. Its origins are often disputed among Italian regions Veneto and Friuli Venezia Giulia.
The recipe for tiramisu is not found in cookbooks before the 1960s. It is also not mentioned in encyclopedias and dictionaries of the 1970s, making its first appearance in print in Italian in 1980, and in English in 1982. It is mentioned in a 1983 cookbook devoted to cooking of the Veneto. This suggests that it is a recent invention.
Obituaries for the restaurateur Ado Campeol (1928–2021) reported that it was invented at his restaurant Le Beccherie in Treviso on 24 December 1969 by his wife Alba di Pillo (1929–2021) and the pastry chef Roberto Linguanotto. The dish was added to its menu in 1972.
It has been claimed that tiramisu has aphrodisiac effects and was concocted by a 19th-century Treviso brothel madam, as the Accademia Del Tiramisù explains, to “solve the problems they may have had with their conjugal duties on their return to their wives”.
There is evidence of a “Tiremesù” semi-frozen dessert served by the Vetturino restaurant in Pieris, in the Friuli Venezia Giulia, since 1938. This may be the name’s origin, while the recipe for Tiramisu may have originated as a variation of another layered dessert, Zuppa Inglese. Others claim it was created towards the end of the 17th century in Siena in honour of Grand Duke Cosimo III.
On July 29, 2017, Tiramisu was entered by the Ministry of Agricultural, Food and Forestry Policies on the list of traditional Friulian and Giulian agri-food products in the Friuli Venezia Giulia region. In 2013, Luca Zaia, governor of Veneto sought European Union Protected Status certification for the dessert, based on the ingredients used in 1970, so substitute ingredients, such as strawberrries, could not be used in a dish called tiramisu.
Traditional tiramisu contains a short list of ingredients: ladyfingers (savoiardi), egg yolks, sugar, coffee, mascarpone cheese, and cocoa powder. A common variant involves soaking the savoiardi in alcohol, such as Marsala wine, amaretto or a coffee-based liqueur, but this is not mentioned in the original recipe. “The original shape of Tiramesù at Le Beccherie was circular.”
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