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Tiramisu Cake in Square Slices

Photo by mattmendoza / CC BY

Ladyfinger Cake

Photo by blese / CC BY

Tiramisu in a Large Glass Bowl

Photo by puffsdaddy / CC BY

OTHER NAMES: tiramesù (original name), Italian Trifle


Tiramisu is a coffee-flavored Italian cake dessert. In Italian, tiramisu means "pick me up" or "lift me up." Usually, the cake is made of ladyfingers dipped in coffee, layered with a whipped mixture of eggs, sugar, and mascarpone cheese, dusted with cocoa on top. [1]



Tiramisu is creamy and rich from the mascarpone cream mixture which consists of egg yolks, sugar, mascarpone cheese, and whipped cream. There is also an aroma of coffee and liquor.



Tiramisu was invented in Italy, possibly developed based on Zuppa Inglese, an Italian trifle dessert. [2] However, the origin of Tiramisu is often disputed between Italian regions.


Most food historians agree its invention in the 1960s at the restaurant "Alle Beccherie" in Treviso, Italy. One of the chef, Roberto Linguanotto, and his god-daughter (also his apprentice), Francesca Valori, claimed to invent Tiramisu around that time. [3] In honor of her culinary skills, Linguanotto named this delicious cake after her maiden name, Tiramisu. [4]


Other debate includes Carminantonio Iannaccone, who claimed to be the creator of tiramisu on 24 December 1969 in Via Sottotreviso while he was head chef at Treviso. [5]



Regardless of Tiramisu’s true origin, recipes for tiramisu are unknown in cookbooks before the 1960s and the term, Tiramisu, was first mentioned in the Italian-language dictionary in 1980. [6]


According to book, La Marca Gastronomica, by Fernando e Tina Raris, it mentions about Giuseppe Maffioli’s article in 1981, “Tiramisu’ was born recently, just 10 years ago in the town of Treviso. It was proposed for the first time in the restaurant Le Beccherie. The dessert and its name immediately became popular, and this cake was copied by many restaurants first in Treviso, then all around Italy.” [7]


Today, tiramisu became one of the most famous Italian dessert globally that many restaurants, cafes, and bakeries serve this delicate cake dessert. There are also "Tiramisu-flavored sweets" such as tiramisu ice-cream (from Breyers), Tiramisu Frappuccino (from Starbucks), Tiramisu Cheesecake, etc.

Tiramisu Cheesecake

Photo by islandvittles / CC BY

Assemble a Tiramisu in a Glass Container

LEFT: Ladyfinger Biscuit

UPPER RIGHT: Mascarpone Cream Mixture



Photo by francescav / CC BY



Traditional tiramisu contains finger biscuits, egg yolks, sugar, coffee, mascarpone cheese and cocoa powder. In the original recipe there is no liquor or egg whites.


The original shape of the cake is round. Today tiramisu is mostly in rectangular shape due to the tile-arrangement of ladyfinger biscuits. (See Left Photo) It is often assembled in a glassware or transparent bakeware to show the various layers of ingredients.


Over time, coffee is the main flavor but there are others such as chocolate, amaretto, berry, lemon, strawberry, pineapple, yogurt, banana, raspberry, coconut, and even beer.



Ladyfinger, egg yolks, sugar, coffee, mascarpone cheese, cocoa powder



Cake: Sponge cake, pound cake, sweet yeasted bread

Liquor: Marsala wine, dark rum, Madeira, port, brandy, Malibu, or Irish Cream and especially coffee flavored liqueurs such as Tia Maria and Kahlua.


Tirmisu Recipe:


A Slice of Tiramisu Cake

Photo by 21045446@N00 / CC BY

The word, cake, is of Viking origin, from the Old Norse word "kaka". [1] The Oxford English Dictionary traces the English word cake back to the 13th century. In other languages, cake is translated to Gateau (Gateaux in plural) in French and Torte in German. [2]


Cakes can be savory or sweet, light or rich, porous or dense. Determining whether a given food should be classified as bread, cake, or pastry can be difficult. [3] For example, banana bread is a quick bread, but it has a texture of a cake and uses same ingredients as if a cake would have. There are many dispute on what category these desserts should be classified, but why don't we simply enjoy these goodies!


The earliest cakes were very different from what we have today. They were more like bread and usually made with simple ingredients like moistened crushed grains or nuts. [1] In Ancient Egypt, emmer and barley were used to make cakes, breads, and beer. Only the wealthy can enjoy cakes made with milled flour. There was no sugar at that time so honey was the primary sweetener. Sometimes, nuts and fruits like dates were added in the recipe too. [2]


In Asia, cakes were mainly made with rice, called rice cake. ("Nian Gao" in Chinese, "Mochi" in Japanese, "Tteok" in Korean) [3] It was first made around the period of Zhou Dynasty, [4]


Cakes covering with icing were first introduced in Europe around mid-17th century when cooking tools were more advanced and more ingredients were available. Icing was first made with only sugar and egg whites. [5]


Cakes were not only a meal or dessert to enjoy, it was used as symbols and representation for religious ceremonies and occasions celebrations from ancient times. Starting from at least the 8th century BC China, it was already a tradition to eat rice cakes during Chinese New Year for bringing good luck in the coming year. [1]


The first known birthday cake was recorded in the first century BCE from the book, Tristia, written by Latin poet Ovid. From his book, Ovid mentioned about celebrating his birthday with a birthday party and cake. [2] Today, cakes still play an important role in family gatherings, holiday celebrations, and ceremonial occasions like weddings, anniversaries, Christmas, etc.


In different cultures and regions, different cakes are made to celebrate the same holiday. For example, fruitcake is the Christmas cake consumed in France, Germany, and United States. In Japan, a frosted sponge cake with strawberries are more common during Christmas times. [3]

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