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Substitute for Marsala in Tiramisù

 Is there anything nonalcoholic that we could substitute for Marsala in a Tiramisù cake?

 Clearly distillers and vintners are making payoffs to the cookbook writers of this world, since you almost can't find a recipe anymore that doesn't include something alcoholic. Of course, we exaggerate, and wines and spirits have been used in cooking for as long as they have been around. But you almost never have to use alcohol in your cooking.

Crêpes Suzette without Grand Marnier is plain buttered crêpes without the drama. Babas au Rhum is just high-class raisin bread without the rhum. But there are many, many dishes for which you can either leave out the alcohol or find an acceptable substitute — although, in cooking as anywhere else, acceptability may be in the palate of the eater.

Tiramisù is an interesting case, as there seem to be as many "authentic" recipes as there are stories of its origin. Without digging very deeply, we have come across recipes for the potent Italian cake that call for rum, brandy, amaretto, Marsala wine, and one that contains no alcohol at all. If you're bound and determined to use your recipe, you could toy with substituting watered-down cranberry juice or red grape juice for the Marsala. Otherwise, you might like to try this non-alcoholic Tiramisù recipe from The Best of Bugiali (Canada, UK).

And depending on whose story you believe, Tiramisù evolved from zuppa del Duca, which was created in Siena for some duke or other, then was transformed into zuppa inglese in Florence in the 1800s (a trifle-like dessert that British travelers and expatriates loved, and for which the Italians made fun of the British), and finally, in recent times morphed into Tiramisù with the wicked addition of mascarpone cheese in place of a slightly less sinful custard. The other story is that Tiramisù was created at El Toulà restaurant in Venice in the 1970s.

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