Tiramisu is a cool,
refreshing Italian dessert that once tasted,
Stories are told about how Tiramisu was the favorite of Venice's courtesans, who needed a "pick me up" (the literal translation of "tirami-su") to fortify themselves between their amorous encounters. True? Probably not. But it makes for a colorful history. Its American popularity arose in San Francisco, and today, Tiramisu can be found in restaurants throughout the nation.
The original recipe called for custard and only recently has Mascarpone cheese been substituted. The basic ingredients are eggs, mascarpone cheese, ladyfingers, cream, espresso coffee, liquor -- brandy, marsala, rum are some of the spirits used -- a little bit of sugar, and cocoa or shaved chocolate.
Mascarpone is a triple-creme cheese. It's made from the milk of cows that have been fed special grasses filled with herbs and flowers. This special diet creates a unique taste that has been described as "fresh and delicious." Ladyfingers -- known in Italy as "savoiardi" -- are sweet, little, fairly dry, finger-shaped sponge cakes.
Well, first of all, think of a very light chocolate pudding. Very light. No, you've got to think lighter than that. Think more in the lines of mocha-flavored whipped cream.
Now add in a little bit of body. Not heaviness, but substance -- you know, the kind of fullness that rich foods feel like in your mouth. Except that it doesn't taste rich, and it doesn't stay in your mouth long enough to become cloying. It tastes, well, dreamy.
Then, imagine this very light almost-like-mocha-flavored-whipped-cream concoction on lady finger pastry soaked (no, more like "kissed") with strong espresso coffee. Got that? Light, creamy, smooth lady fingers, the rich aroma of strong coffee?
Okay, now add in just a slight bite on the tongue, and tantalizing hint of the liquor. Suddenly, you get a teeny explosion of chocolate on your tongue that disappears in a flash. Got all that? Good.
Now finally, imagine that you're dressed in gossamer. You have delicate white wings and are sitting on a fluffy cloud. You are experiencing the greatest dessert ecstacy of your life. You are in Heaven, and Heaven is in your mouth.