I love tiramisu. Seriously...it's the perfect not too sweet, light and creamy dessert...plus it has espresso in it. I mean what more could you ask for? Hmmm how bout a tasty vegan version with no refined sugar, oh and that is raw as well. What?!?!? Right, I know. But here is the story... we meet the family at Maggianos Italian restaurant for our holiday celebration. It's a good place where the vegans and the non-vegans alike can get something delicious to eat, except when it comes to dessert. So of course my non-vegan family orders the tiramisu. It comes out and I am not kidding when I tell you it looks glorious. Choirs of angels were singing....and the weird part is that I swear it's whispering my name. But like any good vegan it passes quickly as my convictions start to pat me knowingly on the shoulder. So I issued myself a challenge to create a healthy, vegan version.
Have I mentioned lately how wonderful cashews are? Well they are. Treat them right and they become the perfect foundation for creamy desserts. So my dear friends, I embraced the cashew as my catalyst for marscarponesk creaminess. And wow did they ever deliver! This recipe does take some patience and love, but it's so worth it. One quick note: I don't care for super sweet desserts, so feel free to add more agave if you have a sweeter tooth. I truly hope you enjoy this one as much as I do.
For the cake layer:
- 1/2c raw almonds, soaked overnight in water
- 1/3c raw pecans
- 1/3c raw cashews
- 5 dates, chopped
- 1/4 tsp salt
For the coffee layer:
- 1c raw cashews, soaked a minimum of 6 hours or overnight
- 1/4c coconut milk (I used SoDelicious unsweetened)
- 2 Tbs hot water
- 3 tsp instant espresso
- 2 tsp agave syrup
- 1 tsp coconut oil, melted
- 1 tsp raw cacao powder, or cocoa powder
- 1 tsp carob powder, or more cocoa powder
- 2 good pinches salt
For the cream layer:
- 1-1/2c raw cashews, soaked a minimum of 6 hours or overnight
- 2/3c coconut milk (I used SoDelicious unsweetened)
- 2 tsp agave, or more for a sweeter dessert
- 1 tsp coconut oil
- 1/4 tsp fresh lemon juice
- 3 inch section of vanilla bean
- 1/8 tsp salt
Cacao or cocoa powder for dusting
Start with the cake layer...Drain almonds (soaked covered with water overnight in the fridge), place them and remaining ingredients for the cake layer into a food processer. Pulse repeatedly for several minutes until mixture is crumbly and moist. Crumble size should be somewhere between sand and kosher salt. In a small glass casserole, I used a 1 quart rectangular dish, or even individual ramekins, gently press half of the cake mixture into the bottom. Don’t flatten it too much, you want it to be light and airy. Cover dish with plastic wrap and place in the freezer while you start on the coffee layer. Set aside remaining half of the cake layer in a bowl on the counter.
Next is the coffee layer… Drain the cashews (soak overnight just like the almonds). Stir the espresso powder into the hot water until dissolved. Place the cashews, espresso mixture, and the remaining ingredients into a blender. A quick note here, the easiest way to melt coconut oil is to set the jar into a bowl of hot water for several minutes, the outer layer will melt and you can pour what you need the mixture to thicken in the fridge later). Blend ingredients until the mixture is thick and creamy, starting on a low setting until the cashews really start to break down then working up to a higher setting. Ideally you want it to be the consistency of marscapone. If mixture seems too thick, add more coconut milk. If it seems to thin add more coconut oil. Take the prepared dish out of the freezer and evenly spread half of the coffee mixture over the cake layer. Return dish to freezer. Put remaining coffee half into the fridge to keep cool. You will need to clean your blender now as the cream layer also needs to be whipped up in it. Please be sure to dry it well. Make sure the coffee layer has a good 20 minutes in the freezer.
Finally the cream layer… Again drain the cashews, add them to the blender, reserving one cashew. Halve the vanilla bean lengthwise and place it, cut side up, on a work surface. Hold a knife perpendicular to the bean, then run the blade over each cut side, bearing down to scrape out the seeds. Using the reserved cashew, scrape the vanilla seeds off of the knife and onto the cashew. Place cashew with vanilla into the blender. Add remaining ingredients. Blend ingredients until the mixture is thick and creamy, starting on a low setting until the cashews really start to break down then working up to a higher setting. If mixture seems too thick, add more coconut milk. If it seems to thin add more coconut oil. Take the prepared dish out of the freezer and very carefully spread half of the cream layer on top of the coffee layer. Again, return dish to the freezer. Please let it set up for at least 30 minutes or even longer.
Now you need to repeat the layering process starting with the cake layer. Be gentle when adding the cake layer over the cream as you don’t want to flatten any of the layers below. I use my fingers to sprinkle it on and gently pat the top until it’s fairly even. Return to the freezer again for another 15 minutes. Then spread remaining coffee mixture over top. Return to freezer again for a minimum of 20 minutes. Spread remaining cream mixture over the top, making sure to smooth it out or swirl it up so that it looks pretty, dust top with cacao powder. Cover with dry plastic wrap and return to the freezer for another 30 minutes. After that move it to the fridge. It will be better the longer you wait. Try to give it at least a few hours for the flavors to meld before serving. Dust with more cocoa if needed or for presentation and enjoy! Makes 4-6 servings.