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I have often wondered who was the genius that invented tiramisu. Think about its brilliant simplicity and wonderful flavor. You need coffee, of course, so I suspect the creator was some late medieval monk in a cold stone kitchen with simple leftover cookies, some coffee and the dairy products brought in daily by his other hard working monk associates.

Or maybe this was fashioned by the cooks for ladies of power of Florence in the 1800s. The tourists were flowing in and the British and French and German upper classes who flocked to the arts needed an afternoon refreshment. Maybe that’s the start.

To find the story, I just googled and on Wikipedia I got this rather different perspective. Tiramisu probably was invented in the 1960s at a Veneto restaurant Le Beccherie in Treviso. No monks, no rich ladies, no tourists. The one thing I got right was the dairy: the Veneto sits just below the Alps and the fields and dairies there are famous the richness of their product.

We don’t have a specific name to thank but we can all raise a class of prosecco or a cup of espresso as we nibble away at our lovely tiramisu. Perhaps our second piece.

The word “tiramisu” literally means “pick me up.” Between the sugar and caffeine and chocolate, this dessert could raise the dead. You’ll find as many recipes for tiramisu as there are plates in the world. When in doubt about Italian recipes, Suzen and I turn to our friend Michele Scicolone. This recipes comes from her book 1000 Italian Recipes. It’s a great book, and I appreciate the other 999 recipes there, but this one is my favorite.

If you need a quick weekday dessert,this can be prepared in just a few minutes. With the cream and cheese already chilled, you can make and eat, although a little time in the fridge does allow the flavors to meld. That's why Michele suggests a few hours in the refrigerator. I've never been able to wait hours. I doubt you will.

Tiramisu from Michele Scicolone

Yield: serves 8-10


  •  1cup chilled heavy or whipping cream
  • 1 pound mascarpone
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 24 lady fingers aka savoiardi
  • 1 cup brewed espresso coffee at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup coffee liqueur [like Kahlua]
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder


At least 20 minutes before you are to make the dessert, place a large bowl and the beaters of an electric mixer in the refrigerator.

When ready, remove the bowl and beaters from the refrigerator. Pour the cream into the bowl and whip the cream at high speed until it holds its shape softly when the beaters are about 4 minutes.

In a large bowl, whisk together the mascarpone and sugar until smooth. Take about one third of the whipped cream, and with a flexible spatula, gently fold it into the mascarpone mixture to lighten it. Carefully fold in the remaining cream.

Mix the coffee with the coffee liqueur and then lightly and quickly dip half of the savoiardi in the coffee and arrange them in a single in a 9 x 2 inch square service dish. Spoon on half of the mascarpone cream.

Dip the remaining savoiardi in the coffee and arrange them in a layer over the mascarpone. Top with the remaining mascarpone mixture and spread it smooth with the spatula. Place the coco in a fine mesh strainer and shake it over the top of the dessert. Cover with foil and or plastic wrap and refrigerate 3 to 4 hours or overnight so that the flavors can meld. It will keep well in the refrigerator up to 24 hours

Source: 1000 Italian Recipes by Michele Scicolone [Wiley, 2004]

Photo Information: Canon T2i, EFS 60 mm Macro Lens, F/4.5 for 1/50th second at ISO‑3200