Not Quite Guilt-Free…But Close: Tiramisu Gets a Vegan Recipe Makeover


I haven’t met a soul who doesn’t like tiramisu.

Surely, some don’t care for it much, but in my experience, the layered dessert causes a stir among patrons whenever it’s an option. There’s something about the creaminess of the mascarpone cheese paired with sweet ladyfingers softened by coffee flavored liqueur that makes it fit for any time of the day. But, the fact remains that tiramisu isn’t the most flattering to your physique. With a few major tweaks, however, traditional tiramisu may just be an indulgence you don’t have to regret.

Tiramisu recipes vary from one person and restaurant to the next, but the elements generally remain the same. Ingredients include egg yolks, white sugar, mascarpone cheese, heavy whipping cream, semisweet chocolate, coffee, dark rum or Marsala wine, and ladyfingers made with white flour and eggs. From this list, it is clear where you may run into trouble in trying to incorporate your love for the dessert into your life. An average slice of tiramisu may comprise upwards of 500 calories, more than 50 percent fat, 18 grams of saturated fat, 300 mg of cholesterol, 40 grams of carbohydrates, and 30 grams of sugar. These are hardly the kinds of stats that keep your conscience at bay.

To remedy this not so glamorous nutritional profile, I’ve created a vegan tiramisu recipe that still bears its characteristic decadence. This vegan tiramisu sticks to simple, accessible ingredients and takes the time and labor out of the process. This version is egg and dairy free, opting for coconut milk instead, and uses whole-wheat flour and coconut palm sugar to replace the white counterparts.

Vegan Tiramisu

Total time: 1 hour 15 minutes

Makes 4-6 slices



For the Ladyfingers:

  • 1 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup coconut palm sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon arrowroot powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 cup safflower oil
  • 3/4 cup water
  • Spray oil

For the Cream:

  • 15 oz can coconut milk, chilled
  • 1 tablespoon agave nectar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Assembly:

  • 1 cup coffee, cooled
  • 1 tablespoon bourbon (optional)
  • Fresh mint and cinnamon  or cocoa powder for garnish


For the ladyfingers, preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Combine all the dry ingredients together and add the wet ingredients. Stir until smooth. Spray oil on the bottom and sides of a 9-inch baking dish. Pour the mixture into the dish and bake for 20 minutes, or until the center has firmed and toothpick comes out clean.


Remove the entire ladyfinger “pie” from the baking dish in one piece. Slice ladyfinger-sized pieces, place them on parchment paper and return them to the 375-degree oven for 15 more minutes, or until browned and more hardened, but not burnt. Let the ladyfingers cool to room temperature before use. They will feel firm, but will soften later when soaked in the coffee mixture.


While the ladyfingers cool, prepare the cream filling. Open the canned coconut, which has been stored in the refrigerator at least one hour before preparation, and scoop out the hardened part, leaving the watery bottom behind. In a medium bowl, vigorously whisk the coconut milk with the agave and vanilla.


For assembly, in a low-rise dish, pour up to one cup of the coffee (bourbon addition option) until it rises about 1/2-inch. Place the lady fingers in the coffee for 30 seconds on both sides. Let them sit for longer or shorter depending on how quickly the ladyfingers soften. You don’t want them soggy to the point they are breaking apart, but you want them soft enough so that they are delicate to touch.

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In a separate dish, layer half the lady fingers on the bottom, topped with a layer of the coconut cream, another layer of the rest of the lady fingers and then finished off with the cream. Garnish with mint and cocoa powder or cinnamon powder and serve.


Photo Credit: Stevendepolo, GlowKitchen