I still vividly remember the first time I sampled Tiramisu back in the early 2000s. It was at Trattoria, the then all-day diner with an Italian slant at the Taj President, Mumbai. It was a case of love at first bite. That's the thing with this Italian dessert; it's instantly likeable with a universal appeal. I remember chatting with the chef to deconstruct this dessert and understand the secret behind its light as air form and mild sweet appeal.
Over the years the Tiramisu became my 'go to' dessert in almost any corner of the world including Italy. Almost every restaurant served a slightly version. From a plated version to a tiramisu in a glass, it's not uncommon to see different forms. But the flavours are usually similar. The origins of this dessert are somewhat disputed. There are some Italian culinary experts who insist that this dessert that translates to 'pick me up' in Italian, could have originated in the 1600s in Tuscany. There are local legends about a dessert being created for the visit of a Grand Duke to Siena. But most Italians agree that the Tiramisu is actually a modern dessert that was invented at the restaurant Alle Beccherie in the city of Treviso in the 1960s. They credit pastry maker Roberto Linguanotto with its invention.
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Like quite a few other Italian dishes, the Tiramisu was made popular in the US. In the 1980s the Tiramisu began to appear on menus across the Little Italy neighbourhood in Manhattan, New York City. It helped that the dessert was relatively easy to make, especially for an accomplished pastry chef and that it was the perfect ending for an Italian meal along with a demitasse of espresso. As I discovered, it's also an easy dessert to try at home. I stumbled upon a Gordon Ramsay recipe while searching for 'easy Tiramisu recipes' that worked really well for me with some improvisations.
This version uses Mascarpone cheese, an Italian cream cheese from Northern Italy which is the key ingredient in Tiramisu. I wouldn't attempt making Tiramisu without mascarpone; it's widely available in gourmet stores across India. This version involves whisking fresh cream and then adding it to whisked mascarpone cheese with vanilla extract and a liqueur. While Gordon Ramsay's recipe recommends adding Marsala wine, I found either Kahlua or Tia Maria (both coffee based liqueurs) worked better. You can add this mixture to sponge fingers dipped in filter or espresso coffee and then finish it in the glass with grated dark chocolate. I've substituted sponge fingers with financiers a couple of times and it worked too. This version is incredibly fast and doesn't involve beating eggs (that are already in the sponge fingers).
Tiramisu has gone from exotic dessert to becoming a mainstream dessert in even the tiniest Italian eateries across India. Although some of these restaurants might disagree, it doesn't quite taste the same if the mascarpone cheese is substituted with some other cream cheese.
How To Make Tiramisu At Home:
Recipe by Sous Chef Kunal Verma
Bene at Sheraton Grand Bangalore Hotel at Brigade Gateway
This is one of the better classic versions I've tried at an Italian restaurant in India:
- 8 large egg yolks
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 1/3 cup sugar
- 1 1/2 cup mascarpone cheese room temperature
- 2 cups heavy whipping cream
- Italian Ladyfingers biscuits (Savoiardi)
- 100 ml espresso/coffee
- 12 ml Kahlua Liquor
- Cocoa powder for dusting
- Prepare the espresso and leave it to cool.
- Whip the egg yolks, sugar and vanilla until it turns into a pale yellow colour (approx. for 10 minutes).
- In a separate bowl, mix the mascarpone cheese with the whipping cream until hard peak forms.
- Fold the egg yolk and cheese mixture until well combined.
- Dip the biscuits in the espresso and arrange it in a bowl or a glass.
- Top the biscuits with the mascarpone mixture and level the surface.
- Repeat the layers and cover and refrigerate.
- Dust with cocoa powder just before serving.
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Recipe Courtesy - 601, The Park Chennai
For over a decade, the Tiramisu at 601, the all-day diner at the Park Chennai has remained one of the most authentic versions of this dessert in the city. Recently the restaurant added a deconstructed version that has become quite popular across Italian restaurants globally.
- Double Cream - 100 gm
- Castor Sugar - 50 gm
- Sabayon Sauce - 225 gm
- Mascarpone cheese - 250 gm
- Kahlua liqueur - 20 ml
- Chocolate tubes - 8
- Cats tongue cookies or sponge fingers - 16
- Coffee syrup - 20 ml
- Vanilla bean - 1 gm
- Beat cream and sugar till smooth
- In a separate bowl beat sabayon, coffee syrup, Kahlua, mascarpone cheese and vanilla bean till smooth
- Fold in both together
- Pipe the tiramisu mixture in the chocolate tube and place on the plate next to the cat tongue biscuit and the coffee.
- Serve chilled
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About Ashwin RajagopalanI am the proverbial slashie - a content architect, writer, speaker and cultural intelligence coach. School lunch boxes are usually the beginning of our culinary discoveries.That curiosity hasn’t waned. It’s only got stronger as I’ve explored culinary cultures, street food and fine dining restaurants across the world. I’ve discovered cultures and destinations through culinary motifs. I am equally passionate about writing on consumer tech and travel.