Tiramisu and its dirty secrets

Who knew that the key for paradise were a few ingredients and a brothel? Very random, isn’t it?

Savoiardi, mascarpone, eggs, coffee: this is what comes to mind when thinking about Tiramisu.

What the majority of non-italian speakers dont know, is that its name literally translates as “pick me up”. It is a curious name for an innocent dessert, uh? Well, as it turns out, Tiramisu is not very innocent (allegedly).

Today we are in Northern Italy, where 4 different regions are still disputing to determine where Tiramisu was originally invented: Toscana, Piemonte, Veneto and Friuli-Venezia-Giulia.


According to this theory, Tiramisu was invented in the 17th Century in Siena, to celebrate the visit of the Grand Duke of Tuscany Cosimo III de’Medici. For this special occasion, they invented “La zuppa del Duca (Duke’s soup). Coffee had been introduced in Italy around that time, so it is possible that a coffee based dessert was made to honour the Grand Duke, however it is unlikely that it was Tiramisu: savoiardi were originally invented in the Savoia region, and they were not commonly used in Toscana. Additionally, mascarpone is a cheese from Lombardia, and again it wasn’t used very much in Toscana at that time, especially because it is a very delicate cheese that it would be impossible to ship from Lombardia to Toscana at that time.


Some people believe that Tiramisu was invented to honour Camillo Benso, the Count of Cavour to energise him during the estenuating job to unify Italy. This story is not very credible for the reasons above, and also because the use of raw eggs (essential ingredient for tiramisu) was almost impossible at that time due to the risk of contracting salmonella.


It is commonly believed that Tiramisu has aphoradisiac effects, and for this reason it was served in to the personnel and the clients of Treviso brothels to “keep the money flowing”. In particular, it is believed it was originally served in the 1930s in the “Cae de Oro”, a brothel particularly famous in Treviso. According to this story, the brothels had proper contracts with nearby farmers, to make sure fresh eggs were delivered every day. At that time, what was served to the clients was called sbatudin, a mixture of egg yolks and sugar served not only to energise the clients and the employees, but also to invigorate the men that were heading home, to avoid any issues with the wives that were waiting for them and would have noticed they were “tired”. When the government shut down the brothels and made them illegal, sbatudin started appearing in restaurants, the most famous of which is “Alle Beccherie”, where the chef “updated” the recipe adding mascarpone cheese. In the 1950s, 3 different restaurants started serving a dessert containing the ingredients of Tiramisu as we know it, but none of them was called Tiramisu.

Friuli-Venezia Giulia

It is Friuli-Venezia Giulia that can pride themselves with the invention of the most loved Italian dessert: “Il vettorino” restaurant used to serve, in the 1940s, “La coppa Vettorino” – a sponge soaked in Marsala wine, covered with chocola” hotel in te mousse, zabaione and cream. The restaurant changed the name of Coppa Vettorino in ‘Coppa Vetturino Tirime su’ and then 10 years later, it was just called ‘Tirime su’. Around the same time, the “Rome” hotel, owned by Norma Pielli, started serving their own version of Dolce Torino, a layered dessert originally made of savoiardi soaked in alchermes, butter, egg yolk, milk, sugar and dark chocolate. The dessert served in Norma’s hotel was quite similar, but mascarpone replaced the butter and coffee replaced the alchermes liqueur. This is what historians believe was the first tiramisu ever made, and in 2017, Tiramisu was entered by the Ministry of Agricultural, Food and Forestry Policies on the list of traditional Friulian and Giulian agri-food products in the Friuli Venezia Giulia region.

Traditional recipe

Here is the original recipe for Tiramisu, in Italy we still use raw eggs and every time I mention this abroad, I get very funny looks from people. Sorry guys, it is tradition!


-Savoiardi, 300g

-cold espresso coffee with sugar as you like, 300 ml

-Mascarpone, 500g

-eggs, 4

-sugar, 100g

-cocoa powder


  1. Separate the egg yolk from the white
  2. Take half of the sugar, mix it with the egg yolk and whisk it until you get a super foamy cream
  3. Add the mascarpone
  4. Take the remaining sugar and mix it wil the egg white.

5. Whisk until you get a firm mixture, and add it gradually to the mascarpone cream, folding everything together using a spatula

6. Put the coffee&sugar in a bowl, and dunk the savoiardi for 3 seconds for each side

7. Start making your first layer of savoiardi: dunk a biscouit and put it in a tray

8. Once the first layer is completed, cover it with a layer of cream

9. Add another layer of soaked savoiardi and add another layer of cream

10. Dust with cocoa powder and leave it in the fridge for a couple of hours

Did you know all these stories about Tiramisu? Do you have your own recipe? Let me know!

Autumn risotto

Picture this: it is a nippy day, it is raining, you are super annoyed with work, your dog chewed your favourite chair, your hair is super frizzy, basically it is a disaster. You have two choices here:

  1. Be super grumpy and start arguing with everybody to have an even worse day tomorrow + go to bed with a super size pack of crisps and 2 chocolate bars
  2. Give yourself a treat wiht a super tasty risotto that will make you forget about everything

Option 1 looks easier and more satifsying, obviously – but trust me, sometimes option 2 is a life saver!

Even if I am the great master of grumpiness, I am sure nobody needs a recipe or instructions for that, so I will move on with the risotto recipe!

Ingredients for 5 people:

-Risotto carnaroli, 320g

-white onion, 1

-sausage meat, 150g

-beef stock, 1.5L

-mushrooms, 150g

-aubergine, 1

-olive oil, 4 tablespoons

-red wine, half a glass

-mascarpone, 150g

-grated parmesan cheese for topping, if you like


  1. Heat the oil in a pan at medium temperature
  2. chop the onion finely and put them in the pan, let them cook for 3/4 minutes
  3. chop the mushroooms and the aubergine
  4. add the sausage meat in the pan, let it cook for 3/4 minutes or until done
  5. add the mushrooms and aubergine, and let them cook for 3/4 minutes
  6. add the rice and the wine, and keep stirring until the wine evaporates
  7. keep stirring,and once the wine evaporated, start adding the beef stock and keep doing it any time it dries out
  8. once the rice is cooked, turn the heat off and add the mascarpone
  9. if you like it, add the parmesan on top and stir

Your new favourite risotto

Here we go again: you open the fridge and you have that sad little courgette, that will probably end up in the bin unless you find a glorious way to use it. Glory is always in a risotto, everything in a risotto looks, sounds and tastes better especially “boring” veggies!

Ingredients for 3 people:

-arborio rice, 250g

-courgette, 1

-frozen peas, 150g

-vegetable stock,1l

-white onion, 1

-smoked pancetta cubes, one pack

-white wine, half a glass

-butter, 2 tablespoons

-olive oil, 4 tablespoons

-mascarpone, 70g


  1. Chop the onion finely
  2. melt the butter in a pan, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and the onion
  3. let it cook 3-4 minutes at medium temperature, and add 3 tablespoons of stock
  4. grate the courgette and add it to the onion, add 3 tablespoons of stock
  5. leave it to cook for 3 -4 minutes ad add the rice
  6. add the wine and let it evaporate
  7. add the frozen peas
  8. keep adding the vegetable stock any time the rice becomes dry, and keep stirring all the time
  9. in the meantime, take another pan and warm up 2 tablespoons of oil
  10. add the pancetta and let it cook until golden and crispy
  11. when the rice is done, mix the mascarpone and stir until spread evenly in the risotto
  12. serve it in the plates and top with the pancetta

Creamy mascarpone and seafood risotto

This is one of my favourite recipes: it is delicious, easy to make, and full of flavours!

Ingredients for 2 people:

  • Arborio rice, 160g
  • White onion, 1
  • Carrot, 1
  • Courgette, 1
  • Vegetable stock, 1l
  • Mixed seafood (prawns, calamari, mussels) 200g
  • Mascarpone, 3 tablespoons
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • White wine, half a glass


  1. Peel and cut the onion
  2. Put some oil in a pan and warm it
  3. Boil the vegetable stock
  4. Add the onion in the pan and let it cook until clear
  5. Add some vegetable stock
  6. Peel and grate the carrot
  7. Grate the courgette
  8. Add the grated vegetables to the pan
  9. Add the seafood and let it cook a little bit
  10. Add some vegetable stock
  11. Add the rice
  12. Add the wine and let it evaporate
  13. Add some vegetable stock
  14. Keep stirring and keep adding vegetable stock any time the rice dries out
  15. Add salt and pepper as you like
  16. When the rice is cooked, add the mascarpone and stir


Ciambellone Nutella e mascarpone

Do you love Nutella? Do you love mascarpone? Great! Because they are meant to be together and this recipe will be your favourite thing ever! 🙂


  • Eggs, 3
  • Flour, 250g
  • Milk, half a glass
  • Mascarpone, 250g
  • Sugar, 200g
  • Vanilla paste, 1 tablespoon
  • Nutella, one glass
  • Yeast, one bag
  • Butter for the tray


  1. Preheat the oven, 160° fan assisted – please do this at the beginning of your steps!
  2. Mix the flour, sugar and eggs
  3. Add the warm milk and the yeast
  4. Add the mascarpone
  5. Add the vanilla paste
  6. When the mixture is very creamy put the butter in the tray, spread it even so that the cake won’t stick
  7. Add 2/3 of the mixture in the tray
  8. Add tablespoons of nutella on the tray, it should “drown” when it cooks but I always give it a little push
  9. Try to just add tablespoons, do not spread it as a layer
  10. Add the remaining mixture to cover
  11. Cook for 30 minutes


Creamy risotto with mascarpone and asparagus

I love the combination of the bitter taste from the asparagus and the creaminess of the mascarpone, this risotto is simply fantastic!

Ingredients for 2 people :

  • Arborio rice, 160g
  • Asparagus to clean, 400 g
  • Black pepper
  • White onion, one
  • Olive oil
  • Mascarpone, 100g
  • Vegetable stock, 1 l


  1. Take off the hard bits at the end of the asparagus and peel the rest of the body (not the top) until you can see the white
  2. Cut the asparagus finely
  3. Cut the onion finely
  4. Boil the stock
  5. Warm some oil in a pan and add the onions and asparagus
  6. Add some vegetable stock
  7. Leave everything to cook for 15 minutes
  8. Add the rice
  9. Stir all the time and add the stock when the rice becomes dry
  10. Let everything to cook for 20 minutes circa, taste the rice from time to time
  11. Add the pepper as you like
  12. When the rice is cooked turned the heat off and add the mascarpone
  13. Stir until creamy


Fusilli with mascarpone, scamorza affumicata and pistachio flakes

This recipe is incredibly easy and tasty. It is also very elegant and delicate, it is perfect if you want to shine when you have people over for dinner!

Ingredients for 2 people:

  • Fusilli 160 g
  • Mascarpone 125 g
  • Butter one tablespoon
  • Pistachio, 15 nuts
  • Smoked scamorza ( or a smoked cheese with a flavour that is not too strong) 100 g


  1. Put the pistachio in a blender until you have rough flakes
  2. Cook the pasta
  3. 7-5 minutes before the pasta is done, melt the butter and the scamorza
  4. Drain the pasta but keep 2 tablespoons of the hot water
  5. Put the water in the pan containing the butter and scamorza
  6. Add the pasta
  7. Add the mascara and stir until it has spread evenly
  8. Add the pistachio


Risotto with pink peppercorn, spumante and mascarpone

This is a very delicate, beautiful recipe that I am sure you will love! It is also very easy and elegant, it is perfect for when you have guests 🙂

Ingredients for 4 people:

  • Arborio rice, 330 g
  • White onion, 1
  • Pink peppercorn, 8 g
  • Spumante, 100 ml
  • Thyme, 1teaspoon
  • Salt
  • Vegetable stock 1 l
  • Mascarpone 220 g
  • Olive oil


  1. Boil the vegetable stock
  2. Put the oil in a pan and warm it
  3. Add the peppercorn
  4. Leave it for a couple of minutes
  5. Take the peppercorn off with a spoon
  6. Chop the onion very finely
  7. Put the onion in the oil, add some water and let them cook
  8. Add the rice
  9. Add the spumante
  10. Add the stock gradually, stirring all the time
  11. Add the thyme
  12. Add the salt
  13. When the rice is cooked, add the mascarpone and stir