Tiramisu was invented in Treviso, very near our apartment here in Italy. It only seemed fitting that I should order tiramisu at every establishment that offered it on their menu during my three month stint. Having concluded my Tiramisu tasting study , I feel like I am prepared to try to perfect the ultimate, authentic Italian Tiramisu as my last little hurrah in our apartment before we leave for the US on Monday. Oh yeah, and because it's my birthday today. Which birthday, you ask? It rhymes with "dirty" and I feel old. But at least there's Tiramisu, right? This just so happens to be the BEST Tiramisu I have eaten in Italy (or anywhere for that matter).
Things to know about Tiramisu:
1. It is made with coffee, chocolate, ladyfingers, and mascarpone...shall I keep going?
2. Tiramisu is easy to make. Unlike my birthday cake last year...
3. The best, most authentic coffee to use while making Tiramisu is Italian caffe made in a Moka pot. We like Lavazza Qualita Rossa the best. (You could also brew regular coffee at double strength...just try and avoid instant espresso if possible. It's not very tasty.)
4. The name, Tiramisu, means "pick-me-up" in English. Most Americans seem to believe that is in reference to the coffee in the recipe, giving you a bit of a pick-me-up. However, I found it funny to hear that here in Italy, they take it to mean "pick-me-up" in reference to a guy picking up a girl. They believe Tiramisu has some aphrodisiac-like qualities. Either way, it's delicious and that's all I care about.
5. Authentic Italian Tiramisu is made with raw eggs. In America, due to fear of salmonella, Tiramisu is often made by tempering the egg yolks and substituting heavy whipping cream in place of the egg whites. My goal was to make the most authentic version of Tiramisu that I could while I am still in Italy and the ingredients are accessible and affordable. Also, because of all of the places that I have enjoyed Tiramisu, the best has been in Italy. Feel free to do as you wish, and of course, consume raw eggs at your own risk/discretion. If you would like to try a recipe that does not include raw eggs, I might recommend trying this one from Tyler Florence. I tend not to be too skiddish around raw eggs since I have eaten an un-quantifiable amount of cookie dough in my life, and I've never had any regrets or adverse reactions.
6. Tiramisu contains alcohol. Of course, this can be omitted and the dessert will still be spectacular. Oftentimes coffee-flavored liqueur is used. After reading several articles and recipes for Tiramisu, I decided to make mine with Marsala, an Italian dessert wine which in my opinion seems to be a more traditional Italian choice instead of rum or coffee-flavored liqueur. (I also happen to have some on hand most of the time for making Chicken Marsala or Cannoli with Ricotta-Mascarpone Cream.) Feel free to substitute whichever alcohol you would like in place of the Marsala, or leave it out altogether.