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Grana Padano

The secret of “young” Tiramisu is in the quality of its ingredients

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Despite its enormous popularity (see The contentious origin of a piece if heaven), in Italy and around the world, Tiramisu must be considered one of the most recent “traditional” Italian sweets. Its birth date is very recent but then, its main ingredients are relatively young, too, according to the standards of other Italian traditions.
The savoiardi, for example, also known as ladyfingers in English and in French as biscuits à la cuillère, were probably born “just” in the 16th century (see Francesco Elmi’s Recipe below). Their name comes from Savoy, a Duchy on the border of Italy and France, which included lands belonging to both of today’s states. The Savoy Dynasty eventually produced the first kings o

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Savoiardi

f the unified Italy in the 19th century. Also known as sponge-fingers, trifle sponges or boudoir biscuits savoiardi according to tradition were invented to celebrate the visit of a French King to the Duchy of Savoy.

 

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Even more recent is the history of the Sicilian Marsala wine; at least in the way it is made today. It was an English wine merchant, John Woodhouse, who, in 1773, “created” it, by fortifying a very old Sicilian wine, known by the name of the town in the Province of Trapani since the times of the ancient Romans, and shipping it to the UK, his homeland. It was another Englishman, Benjamin Ingham, who further improved the quality of Marsala, and then finally, in 1833, with Vincenzo Florio, Italians too begun to produce this fantastic wine, which after some decades of decadence, in the past century, has now recovered levels of excellent quality.

The origins of Mascarpone cheese date back to the 17th century, again according to tradition, but there are no documents to confirm it. Mascarpone is a triple cream cheese made from fresh cream to which some tartaric acid is added; after this step, which is called denaturation, the whey is removed without pressure or aging. Still controversial are the origins of the name of Mascarpone,

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Mascarpone Cheese

which was born in a rural area close to Milan, on the Po Plain, between Lodi and Abbiategrasso. It could come from Mascarpa, the name of a product made with the whey of stracchino or from Mascarpia, ricotta in the local dialect. Yet others claim that the real name of this cheese is Mascherpone, because it was produced on the Mascherpa family farm (cascina Mascherpa) between Milan and Pavia that no longer exists today.
In any case, the key to a good tiramisu is all in these ingredients and their quality. Many pastry chefs or home cooks fail when, for example, they prepare it by using a poor quality mascarpone or some replacement such as ricotta. The correct Mascarpone is critical. While Mascarpone is relatively easy to make, producers around the world still do not have the know-how or the machinery of Italian manufacturers.

Savoiardi

Ingredients

500 gr granulated sugar
400 gr egg whites
350 gr egg yolks
450 gr low-gluten wheat W 160- 180, P/L 0,45-0,50
100 gr honey
200 gr starch
0,5 gr vanilla
Icing sugar for dusting

Procedure

Whip the egg whites with the granulated sugar until stiff peaks are formed.
Trickle the egg yolks beaten with the honey into this, while delicately mixing, then add the wheat and starch, sieved and mixed with the vanilla.
On baking pans, lightly buttered and dusted with flour, form lines of the resulting mixture approximately 22 cm long with a sac a poche with a large smooth nozzle.
Dust the surface with the icing sugar, and eliminate the excess sugar by turning the pan upside-down and lightly tapping it.
Bake at 190 C° with open draw for approximately 10 minutes.

Yields 40 savoiardi, 22 cm long