The Temptation of the Tiramisu
American Way Magazine

From San Francisco's Little Italy in North Beach to the outskirts of the city, tiramisu, a lightly textured but delectably rich dessert, has become the piece de resistance of California cuisine. Similar to a multilayered English truffle, tiramisu has whet palates in Italy for centuries. Tiramisu (tira mi su, literally, "lift/pull me up," or loosely, "give me a lift") originally was eaten at breakfast as a warm start for a cold morning in Northern Italy and was usually accompanied by piping hot coffee. But here are many tales of tiramisu's origin. According to Pino Spinoso, owner of San Francisco's Café Tiramisu, this heavenly creation was given its name and reputation by a brothel's madame in pre-World War II Italy. Feeling her clients needed an energy boost, she concocted a mixture of whipped egg yolks, espresso, sugar, and liquor. A later Florentine influence added luscious layers of ladyfingers, mascarpone cheese, rum and a generous sprinkling of powdered chocolate.
  If you are interested in tasting this temptation, we suggest Café Tiramisu (28 Belden Place) in the heart of San Francisco's financial district. The café creates one of the city's most popular and authentic Italian tiramisu. And if San Francisco isn't on your itinerary, then try the café's recipe at home.
Six egg yolks: six ounces sugar; one pound imported mascarpone (Italian cream cheese); 1/4 gallon or one quart heavy cream, whipped until just stiff (optional-six ounces melted cooled chocolate, or six ounces pureed fresh fruit, such as raspberries, strawberries, or mango); spongecake to line 18" by 12" baking pan (or substitute four dozen ladyfingers), ½ liter (2 ¼ cups) kahlua liquor; ten espresso cups or shots of strong espresso coffee; semisweet ground cocoa powder.


1. Mix egg yolks and sugar to almost white, and fold in mascarpone. Add fruit or     chocolate if desired.
2. Fold in whipped cream to egg-and-sugar mixture. Beat again until stiff.
3. Put 1/4-inch layer of spongecake or ladyfingers to cover baking pan.
4. Mix kahlua and espresso well; let cool, and pour over spongecake in pan.
5. Spread cream mixture on top of spongecake, and top with semisweet ground     cocoa powder. (It will form a wet layer of chocolate on top).
6. Chill overnight. Cut into nine to twelve squares and serve.

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