Tiramisú is a dessert that originated in 1982 and got its name from an Italian phrase that means "pull me up!" The dessert is prepared with ladyfingers, espresso, chocolate, and mascarpone cheese.

for 8-10 people

  1. Mix the sugar and egg yolks in a large bowl. In another bowl, beat the egg whites to stiff peaks. In a third bowl, combine the egg yolk mixture with the mascarpone cheese. Add in the egg whites and mix to form a creamy mixture.
  2. Arrange a layer of ladyfingers in a large serving dish. Drizzle half of the liqueur or brandy and half of the espresso over the ladyfingers.
  3. Cover the ladyfingers with the mascarpone mixture from step 1 and the grated chocolate. Then dust the mixture with half of the cocoa powder.
  4. Prepare another layer of ladyfingers on top. Then drizzle them with the remaining liqueur or brandy and espresso.
  5. Refrigerate the tiramisú for at least 12 hours, then dust with the remaining cocoa just before serving.

I read a hilarious story some months back about tiramisú and the dangers of local idiom...

The writer, a Washington Post columnist, was given a tiramisú recipe because he loved it so much. He set off making it himself, dutifully following the directions. It didn't look quite right going into the dish. It looked less right after refrigeration. His family members, upon receiving it, tried it politely but firmly refused second helpings.

Distraught, he went back to the friend who had bequeathed him the recipe and asked for advice. He was shocked to learn that ladyfingers in Europe and the US are sponge cake-like cookies, and not okra as he knew them in his native India.

Lovely mental image there of tapering green pods soaked in espresso and brandy, layered with mascarpone cheese...I don't even want to think about how it tasted.

A side note, since raw egg can be a health risk (not that much to worry about, but it never hurts to be safe), I usually cook the egg yolk. Take the yolk and sugar and mix in the top half of a double boiler (or, use a stainless steal bowl that will sit on top of a saucepan). Bring water to a boil and put yolk mixture over. Once water is at a boil, turn heat to low and cook for 10 minutes, stirring constantly. After 10 minutes, remove from heat, and whip for several minutes until slightly cooled. Then mix in the cheese, etc.

Also, I like to use whipped heavy cream instead of egg white, I think it makes it a tad bit richer and lighter, but that could just be me.

Tiramisu is a heavenly little Italian thing that combines three of my favorite things on this earth: cheese, coffee, and liqueur, and turns them into one k-rad dessert. Created, not in 1982 as the above writeup suggests, but sometime in the 17th century, the desert has its origins in the Italian provence of Tuscany, in Siena. It was first made for a visit from the Grand Duke Cosimo de'Medici III, and thus called zuppa del duca, or the duke's soup. The Duke, while allowing the government of Tuscany to degenerate "into bigoted and corrupt despotism", did something right by bringing the desert back to Florence with him. The duke's soup enjoyed great popularity with English intellectuals in the 19th century and thus became known as zuppa Inglese. They followed the Grand Duke's lead and brought the tradition back to the mother country, where the English grew to love it. Today, one can find tiramisu in fine Italian restaurants everywhere, or make it yourself if you feel so inclined...

The original tiramisu called for custard instead of the recently added mascarpone cheese. Mascarpone is a triple-creme cheese made from milk of cows on a special diet. The other unique ingredient of tiramisu, ladyfingers (call them savoiardi if you want to sound Italian or pretentious), are dry, nasty little cookies that I would not advise eating unless soaked in espresso and covered in creme. The following recipe is one that I used to make desert for Nothing says hardcore like Kansas in January: an Everything, Kansas proof of concept. I here will give mad props to Kimonade and gwenllian who were instrumental in the process of making three batches of the stuff, enth who not only generously donated his mother's kitchen but also made some extra-strong coffee for the effort, the men who contributed their muscles by grating eight ounces of chocolate (see step #5!), and Orange Julius who talked me (back) into the idea.


4 fresh eggs
1/2 cup Tia Maria or Brandy ( I used Kahlua at the suggestion of my aunt, and highly recommend it. It makes the liqueur taste of the desert less overpowering and Kahlua is GOOD.)
1 pound mascarpone cheese
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 package of stale lady fingers
1/2 cup strong espresso coffee
2 squares (1 oz each) semisweet chocolate

1. Separate eggs into two large bowls.

2. Add liqueur to egg yolks and stir till blended. Add mascarpone. Stir till blended.

3. Beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Continuing to beat, add sugar until stiff peaks are formed.

4. Add half of the egg whites to the cheese-egg yolk mixture and blend well. Then add the rest of the egg whites and fold in gently. Set aside.

5. Grate the chocolate. This is a step in and of itself, especially if you're making more than one batch. I highly suggest that you enlist the help of a nearby Pseudo_Intellectual, Phyllis Stein, Strong_Bow79, or The Vegetarian.

6. Dip Lady fingers quickly in espresso. Place half of them flat side down in a shallow dish (10 inch round or 9-by-12-inch oval, for example). Add half the cheese mixture and smooth the top. Sprinkle half the chocolate over the top. Add remaining espresso-coated Lady Fingers. Top with remaining cheese mixture. Cover with remaining chocolate. Refrigerate, covered several hours.

Follow the recipe above and you will have your very own delicious tiramisu to share with 8 to 10 noders, family members, or the homeless guys down the street. Your dinner guests will be astonished and amazed by your culinary prowess. Your waistline will suffer! Holy decadence, Batman! Your batch of tiramisu will contain a grand total of 4320.88 calories...each serving having somewhere between 400 and 600 calories, depending on how you slice it...still, so worth it.


Recipe- my aunt, via my grandmother, via...
History- http://www.heavenlytiramisu.com/whatisit.htm
Calories- http://www.fitday.com

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