A sexy and sophisticated, yet simple, Italian dessert with multiple, even erotic, histories. Considered an aphrodisiac by Italians from Treviso, Tiramisu was served to pleasure seekers inside houses of ill repute “to keep them going and the money flowing.” The cake was intended to reinvigorate brothel guests so they could last for multiple sessions, or at least until they were running low on cash. Proud Tuscan Italians may share that it has a more noble history with 17th century Sienese roots. Dubbed “zuppa del duca” (the duke’s soup), it was served to a Cosimo de’ Medici, a member of the most powerful family in Italy that ruled Italy for centuries. Choose yourself which story to retell when serving. Traditionally made with only espresso, savoiardi (sponge like biscuits known as ladyfingers), mascarpone (a cheese with 75% fat content), eggs, and sugar, this base lends itself to personal tastes. Tinker with a nip of rum, a sprinkle of chocolate chips, or fortified cherries. Serving in glass jam jars or a mish mash collection of recycled glass jars makes this version easy to freeze and serve as semifreddo, a charming frozen mousse-like dessert. This is a pass the spoons and dig in crowd pleasing dessert.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk the egg yolks with three tablespoons sugar until a pale ribbon forms when folded over itself, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add the mascarpone and the rum in 2 additions, whisking well to combine. Mix for 5 full minutes until the mixture is fluffy and thick (the consistency of thick cream).
- In a clean bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, whip the egg whites and remaining sugar to soft peaks. Fold the egg whites into the mascarpone mixture in 3 additions.
- Dip 1/2 of a ladyfinger in the espresso and place in the bottom of the jar. Place 1/2 of a dry ladyfinger next to the soaked ladyfinger. Dollop a large spoon of the cheese mixture on top of the biscuits, sprinkle with the chocolate chips.
- Repeat until 2 ladyfingers (4 halves) are layered in the jar, ending with the cheese mixture. Leave a 1/4” space between the jar and the top of the lid.
- Replace the lids and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or freeze until ready for serving.
- If serving as a semifreddo, remove from the freezer 30 minutes prior to serving.
- Just before serving, remove the lids from the jars, sprinkle with the cocoa powder and use a vegetable peeler to add a few chocolate shavings. Replace the lids if desired and serve immediately.
Experiment with the alcohol (or leave it out all together), Kahlua and Amaretto both work well. If there is any amount of yolk in the whites, they will not whip. If a completely smooth texture is desired, dip all of the biscuits in coffee. Consuming raw eggs may increase your risk of foodborne illness. Use only organic pastured eggs to minimize this risk.