Tiramisu is a cool, refreshing Italian dessert that once tasted, leaves an indelible impression on you.
Also known as "Tuscan Trifle," the dessert was initially created in Siena, in the northwestern Italian province of Tuscany. The occasion was a visit by Grand Duke Cosimo de'Medici III, in whose honor the concoction was dubbed zuppa del duca (the "duke's soup"). The erstwhile duke brought the dessert back with him to Florence. In the 19th Century, zuppa del duca became popular among the English intellectuals and artists who lived there Consequently, it is also known as zuppa Inglese. They took the dessert to England, where its popularity grew. Zuppa del duca eventually made its way to Treviso, just northwest of Venice, in the northeastern province of Veneto. Treviso is best know for its canals, frescoes and . . . Tiramisu.
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.
A Tiramisu website visitor, who signed her letter "Elena from Treviso," presents a different view: "'Zuppa Inglese' is nothing like Tiramisù and that should prove my second point. Tiramisù is really from Treviso. Zuppa Inglese may be from Tuscany, but Tiramisù was first created in Treviso. The story about the courtesans should be true too. As far as I know Tiramisù used to be eaten by the ladies who 'worked' in the brothel above the restaurant called 'Le Beccherie,' where Tiramisù is said to have been created."
Tiramisu is usually made with raw eggs. As a result of health concerns I have eliminated them from this recipe. As indicated in the photo I dressed the top of the Tiramisu around the edge with lady fingers and I placed sliced stawberries in the center.
(Optional -- Replace Mascarpone with 8 oz Ricotta and 8 oz cream cheese)