Tiramisu: Decoding Italian Masterpiece

If you ask people from different countries, “What Italian dessert do you know?” most of them will answer: “Tiramisu!” Due to the simplicity of the recipe and its extraordinary taste, it has become a bestseller among desserts.

There are so many variations of it that a few years ago a trend emerged: always to order tiramisu in different restaurants to add new experiences. In Italy, they say that every family in the republic has its version of the dessert. Moreover, everyone Italian believes that their mother’s recipe is the best.

History of Tiramisu

The history of tiramisu is pretty short. It is so good that several regions of Italy fought for the proud title of “Homeland of Tiramisu”: Tuscany (Toscana), Piedmont (Piemonte), and Veneto (Veneto). But with a significant advantage, the last region won.


Many historians lean toward the belief that its recipe was invented in the 1960s at the Alle Beccherie restaurant in the city of Treviso (Treviso). The chef Roberto Linguanotto, known as Loli, who had worked as a pastry chef in Germany for a long time, combined the recipes of Bavarian sweets with the Italian tradition of giving children egg yolk whipped with sugar for general strengthening. This is how the new dessert came into being. After some time, Loli went back to Bavaria, but his love for his homeland made him return.

Colleagues ironically reproached Roberto, who had returned to Italy: “Why did you invent tiramisu? Now we have to work hard because customers are asking for nothing but this dessert!”

The word “Tiramisu” first appeared on the pages of the Sabatini Coletti Italian language dictionary in 1980. It translates literally as “pick me up” (the Italian version of the phrase “cheer me up”). People with vivid imaginations suggest that the dessert got such a name because it can act as an aphrodisiac (increase sexual desire). In fact, the dish’s name is related to its high nutritional value.

The recipe for tiramisu was first published in 1983 in Giovanni Capnist’s book “Sweets of Veneto”. In 1986, Paolo Zolli included it in the “Dictionary of Dialects” as a word born in the Veneto region.

In 2006, tiramisu was chosen as Italy’s “representative” in the ranks of dishes “Sweet Europe” (a list of desserts from different European Union countries). On January 17, 2013, it was recognized as the official dish of International Italian Cuisine Day.

Assumptions and their refutations

One of the assumptions attributes the birth of tiramisu to Siena. It is said that it was first prepared on the occasion of Cosimo de’ Medici’s visit and was named “Zuppa del Duca” (Duke’s soup).

But if the use of such a dessert component as coffee can still be confirmed (although at that time it was consumed only as a drink), mascarpone, originating from Lombardy (Lombardia), and ladyfingers (a biscuit from French Savoie) were unlikely to be used by Tuscan pastry chefs of the 17th-18th centuries. Moreover, the soft cheese quickly turns sour; it would not have been delivered from Lombardy to Tuscany soon. In addition, it’s unlikely that raw eggs were used in the dessert. The lack of storage methods increased the risk of salmonella.

Кофейный тирамису

“Zuppa del Duca” is not mentioned in such a classic cookbook as “The Science of Cooking and the Art of Eating Well” (La Scienza in cucina e l’arte di mangiar bene) by Pellegrino Artusi.

Another version suggests that tiramisu was created in Turin (Torino) to support Count Cavour in his attempts to unite Italy. Firstly, the mid-19th century did not boast the presence of refrigerators, which excludes the possibility of storing the product. Secondly, there is not a single documentary confirmation of this theory.

Italian chef Carminantonio Iannaccone, now living in the United States, claimed in a 2007 Washington Post article that he invented the famous dessert while in Treviso. Such a selfish statement had no evidence and was quickly refuted.
Many other Italian establishments are trying to claim authorship of the tiramisu recipe, but none of them have a solid ground.

Would you like to learn how to make real tiramisu? We recommend attending a tiramisu masterclass in Rome by a professional pastry chef.

Tiramisu recipe to cook at home

Today, there are many variations of tiramisu. But to create your unique dessert, you need to know the basics – the classic recipe.


For the tiramisu original, you will need the following ingredients:

  • 250g of Mascarpone
  • 250g of Savoiardi biscuits
  • 80g of sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • A large cup of coffee
  • Unsweetened cocoa powder for dusting (to taste)

The equipment for preparing is quite simple: a mixer, a cup of coffee, and a form for tiramisu.

In the end, you will get almost 0.5 kg of cake for 4 people.

Cooking Tiramisu as an Italian

So, let’s get started on making tiramisu:

  1. Prepare strong coffee and cool it down to room temperature;
  2. Beat egg yolks with sugar until smooth (the mixture should lighten);
  3. Mix the mascarpone, which until this point has been in the fridge (!), with the egg-sugar mass and send it back to the fridge until needed;
  4. Dip the biscuits one by one in the coffee. The liquid should not run off the biscuit. You just need to soak it slightly;
  5. Take a form and put a layer of biscuits, then a layer of mascarpone until the ingredients run out. The last layer must be cream;
  6. Sprinkle the resulting cake with cocoa and send it to the refrigerator for at least 2 hours. The ideal option is to let it set overnight.

The calorie content of the prepared dessert per 100 grams is 384 kcal, consisting of:

  • Proteins 8g;
  • Fats 28g;
  • Carbohydrates 25g.

If you decide to divide the tiramisu among 6 people, you have to come to terms with the fact that your portion (157g) will be around 600 kcal. But believe me, it’s a small detail compared to its divine taste.

Recommendations from an Italian Pastry Chef

The classic form of tiramisu is round, although ladyfingers are better suited for shaping a rectangular dessert. Therefore, the advice on choosing a suitable container is to choose a glass variant, if possible. It is preferred purely for aesthetic purposes: to show beautiful layers.


If you can’t find “ladyfingers,” any type of sponge cake will do. Another solution is to bake a sponge cake and cut it into rectangles. It’s better not to dip it in coffee, but to sprinkle it.

Preparing mascarpone at home is also incredibly simple. You can read about it in our article “Mascarpone – Delicate Italian Cheese.”

Modern Versions of Tiramisu

In modern interpretations, tiramisu has many more components. Often whipped egg whites are used in the mix with mascarpone to make the cream lighter, thicker, and airier.

Liquor or fortified wine, such as Marsala, is added to the coffee for soaking. We should note, this version is not suitable for children. It’s better to replace coffee with a cocoa drink for a children’s party.

One of the versions involves whipping eggs over a water bath! This method kills pathogenic microorganisms and prolongs the shelf life of the dessert.


There are tiramisu recipes with berries, banana, lemon, chocolate, pineapple, yogurt, raspberry, coconut, and even beer. If you have favorite delicacies, by adding them to the dessert, you can prepare your own perfect tiramisu.

Tiramisu’s Popularity in the World

Surprisingly, tiramisu gained great popularity in China. According to internet statistics, currently, over 14 million dessert recipes are posted on Chinese culinary websites. That’s almost five times as many as on Italian ones.

But tiramisu didn’t stop in China. There are about 19 million links in English, 9 million in French, German, and Spanish. This testifies to the extraordinary success of a simple and delicious dish for sweet lovers.

Of course, you can try tiramisu in domestic restaurants, and you can make it yourself, but nothing compares to the Italian dessert made in Italy. Go through life with kindness, love unbiasedly, travel sweetly, and remember what Chef Loli said: “I molded it from what was there! And then, what was there, the whole world loved!”

FAQ about Tiramisu

How much does Tiramisu cost in Italy?

Tiramisu, how to pronounce?

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As an ardent lover of Italy and its rich culinary heritage, I have dedicated years immersing myself in the realm of Italian cuisine. My fascination doesn't stop at savoring every dish, but extends to unraveling the essence of each recipe. My passion has led me to experiment, recreate, and perfect traditional meals in my own kitchen. I thrive in my endless journey of discovering the subtle nuances and diverse regional flavors that define the soul of Italian cooking.

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