Dubai: It’s arguably one of the most famous Italian desserts. With an elegant, rich layering of bold espresso and cocoa, creamy mascarpone cheese, and delicate ladyfinger biscuits, Tiramisu is a dessert that has many layers and a complex history.
On October 31, 2021, Italy’s iconic restaurateur and ‘Father of Tiramisu’ - Ado Campeol, died. He left behind a legacy and, what many food historians believe, the first found recipe for Tiramisu. This is just one tale of many. Apparently, there is an entire organisation dedicated to preserving Tiramisu’s cultural significance in Italy called - The Accademia del Tiramisù.
Gulf News Food team caught up with Italian expatriates to delve into the rich history of the Tiramisu and find out why this Italian dessert is loved so much.
While Tiramisu is famous, it has also seen its fair share of controversies. Dubai-based Italian expatriate chef Matteo Mirandola explained: “The curious thing about tiramisu is that it is one of the most controversial desserts from Italy.” There are two controversies. The first one is around its origin. Dubai-based, Danielle Scotto, an Italian chef at Eately restaurant, said: “Some say Tiramisu was first made in Tuscany. Another story has it that a version of this classic dessert was invented in Siena during a visit by the Grand Duke Cosimo III de Medici.”
Its origin may not be clear and still a topic of debate among many Italians. However, according to The Accademia del Tiramisù, this coffee-infused dessert was first discovered in Treviso, a pleasant inland town in the region of Veneto, Italy.
Many online publications also mention an Italian soldier’s legendary tale during World War II. He had to leave his homeland for battle during the war. With little time at hand and no food at home, his wife quickly whipped up a dessert from leftover biscuits, bread and coffee. This love-filled recipe came to be known as Tiramisu.
Amore… from Italy, with love
A classic Tiramisu recipe is made by soaking savoiardi biscuits or ladyfingers in espresso, layered with cream prepared with mascarpone, whipped to perfection. It might sound easy to make, but getting it right, especially the stiff peaks of mascarpone, will test your skill and patience. So, what makes this dessert so delectable?
We spoke to the expert. Scotto, explained that Tiramisu was not famous outside of Italy until the 1980s. However, during this period, Tiramisu gained immense popularity in the USA. It is unclear what could have been the reason for this dessert’s popularity, but it could be because of its caffeine content. Chef Scotto said: “Maybe people like the fact that they could get an extra dose of energy or ‘kick’ from a dessert and that too after a heavy meal.”
Maybe people like the fact that they could get an extra dose of energy or ‘kick’ from a dessert
Of Nonna and sweet tales
A comfort food for many Italians, tiramisu means ‘cheer me up’ and that’s where it all begins. Chef Christian Carrieri, Chef de Cuisine at Marriott Hotels Dubai Marina complex, said: “As a chef and food enthusiast, I consider tiramisu my comfort food.” Something that reminds him of home, childhood and sharing the sweet bite with family and friends. A spoonful of memory with every bite. He added “If you were to survey 100 Italian nationals and ask them their favourite dessert, I am sure 99 of them would say tiramisu.”
As a chef and food enthusiast, I consider tiramisu my comfort food
Tiramisu spells love and for many Italian expatriates, it reminds them of their families and childhood. Chef Scotto, who grew up in Naples, vividly remembers how his grandmother (Nonna in Italian) and mother would prepare tiramisu in the kitchen. He said: “I would often sneak in to dip my fingers in the bowl and lick it. Doing all this without being caught was a skill. My Nonna and Mamma would beat me up with a big wooden spoon if they caught me, and I have been caught so many times.”
Each family in Italy has a particular style of making this coffee-infused dessert, according to Chef Mirandola, and every cook or family argues - how their tiramisu is the best. “This is obviously impossible because the best tiramisu is mine,” he laughed.
Try this classic recipe for Tiramisu by Chef Scotto.
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