There is some time involved in this recipe, but a lot of elements can be prepared ahead of time. I promise you, it is worth every bit of the effort!
It has the smoothest creme consistency, all while being completely eggless and dairy-free, made without silken tofu or cashews (or any nuts for that matter!).
📖 Recipe Overview
- Incredible Smooth Texture - The filling is quickly blitzed in the blender. This gives it an amazing silky consistency and the most perfect mouthfeel.
- Packed With Flavor - Although made without dairy or eggs, this recipe does not skimp on flavor. It has a slightly tangy rich mascarpone flavor followed by rich espresso, and delicate touch of rum which is present in both the coffee-soak and the custard for good measure.
- Clean Layers - One thing that I have noticed with vegan tiramisu recipes, is that it can be tricky to get the right balance of ingredients to give a light filling that is also strong enough to hold up clean slices without somewhat spilling out. Since we're not relying on eggs for structure here, I've created an incredibly thick custard which when combined with vegan mascarpone holds up those layers while being delicate and rich all at once - so you get everything you could want from a tiramisu (including pretty instagram worthy slices!).
- Ideal Make-Ahead Dessert - While I promise that you may want to dive into this amazing dessert head-first ad keep it all for yourself (I speak from experience 👀) it makes the perfect dessert for a crowd. This tiramisu tastes eve better on days 2 and 3, so you can prep it in advance of a special occassion or dinner party, and let everyone shovel out portions as they please!
📝 What Is Classic Tiramisu?
Tiramisu is a classic Italian dessert meaning "pick me up"! Traditional tiramisu recipes are heavy on eggs and dairy and definitely not suitable for vegans! The layers in tiramisu usually consist of:
- Espresso-soaked ladyfingers (Savoiardi): Usually made from egg whites, these biscuits are dipped in a coffee and alcohol soak.
- Sabayon: Or zabaglione, is a custard-like dessert that forms the base of tiramisu. Sabayon is made by whisking egg yolks and sugar with marsala wine over a bain-marie (water bath) as shown in this article on Food52.com.
- Mascarpone: This is whipped and folded into the sabayon to form a mascarpone custard.
- Whipped egg whites: Since tiramisu is oftentimes also made lighter by folding through egg whites, I tried to replicate this process with aquafaba. Honestly, this did not add any value to the recipe - just extra work and ingredients!
Contrary to popular belief, whipped or heavy cream is generally not a component of traditional Italian tiramisu. But this is not traditional tiramisu, so feel free add whipped vegan cream to a piping bag and pipe it on top if you'd like to!
With all the above elements in mind, I'm going to take you through in detail how to make a non-dairy and eggless tiramisu from scratch.
🧾 Ingredients Needed
Here's everything you need to make homemade vegan tiramisu:
- Vegan Butter - Provides stabilization to the custard and helps it to set once chilled. It's how we get nice clean cuts of tiramisu!
- Dark Rum OR Amaretto - For a taste closest to classic tiramisu I recommend either of these. But in a pinch, you can also use Marsala wine, brandy, or coffee liqueur such as tia Maria (Kahlua is not vegan), depending on what you have to hand.
- Espresso -I highly recommend using a good quality espresso coffee bean for this recipe as the flavor will definitely shine through. If you don't have a good coffee machine, you can grab a couple double espresso shots from your favorite barista!
- Vegan Mascarpone - For the best results I recommend my homemade mascarpone as it has the perfect consistency and level of tang (it consists of coconut milk/coconut cream, non-dairy yogurt, lemon juice, and apple cider vinegar). But you can always grab a store-bought vegan mascarpone if available to you, or follow my quick cheats version which includes non-dairy cream cheese, yogurt, and lemon.
- Vegan Savaoirdi - Aka ladyfingers or sponge fingers. Again, you will likely need to make my homemade recipe as I have yet to come across a vegan store-bought version.
- Cocoa Powder - Reach for a good-quality unsweetened pure cocoa powder for an amazing hit of chocolate flavor.
🥣 How To Make Vegan Tiramisu
Here is a visual breakdown and a timeline of how to make the best vegan tiramisú:
- Day 1: Prepare the vegan mascarpone cheese (minimal effort - 20 minutes prep time and overnight chilling time).
- Day 2: Make the ladyfingers and tiramisu (hands on - 1 hour prep time & 5 hours minimum chilling time).
- Day ⅔: Enjoy! (in minutes or spaced over a few days 😂)
Step 1: To make the custard-base (vegan sabayon) whisk together non-dairy milk, rum, cornstarch, sugar, and vanilla extract. Make sure you whisk out ay visible lumps.
Step 2: Cook the mixture over low to medium heat for a few minutes until thick and creamy. Don't walk away from the hob, as once it starts to thicken it will happen fast. Continuously whisk to avoid it from burning to the pan.
Step 3: Whisk cold butter cubes into the hot sabayon - It will appear split at first.
Step 4: Continue to whisk for a few seconds and the ingredients will emulsify leaving you with an incredibly smooth and glossy pastry cream.
Step 5: Cover the sabayon with plastic wrap - this will prevent it from forming a skin. Make sure you leave no space between the custard and the clingfilm. Place it in the fridge to chill.
Step 6: Once chilled, the custard will be extremely thick - so much that it will feel wrong! But don’t worry, this is what you want (and need) for the pudding to set properly. Scoop it into your blender on top of the vegan mascarpone. If your blender is small, do this in 2 batches.
Step 7: Blend the filling ingredients until they are smooth and creamy. This should not take very long, under a minute.
Step 8: Begin assembling the tiramisu. Add a thin layer of the mascarpone cream to the base of a 10.5"x7.5" dish (or similar). Individually dip each ladyfinger in the rum-espresso soak and arrange them side by side on top of the cream.
Step 9: For the most even layers, I like to divide the remaining vegan mascarpone cream into 2 parts. With a spatula, carefully smooth out one part on top of the ladyfingers.
Step 10: Follow this with another layer of coffee-soaked sponge fingers.
Step 11: Spread the remaining mascarpone mixture on top. Take your time and smooth it out as evenly as possible with an offset spatula.
Step 12: Finish the tiramisu off with a generous dusting of good-quality unsweetened cocoa powder. You can use a pastry brush to carefully brush away any powder from the sides of the baking dish. Refrigerate the tiramisu until set (for best results - overnight!)
Tiramisu is best served chilled. Make sure you store it in the refrigerator until serving. Tightly cover the baking dish with plastic-wrap to prevent exposures to the air as this can cause it to dry out and absorb odors from the fridge.
Tiramisu, in my opinion, is one of those desserts that tastes even better when it's rested in the fridge for a day. That's why I recommend making it a day ahead and letting the flavors hang out overnight before serving.
Yes, of course, this recipe has quite a bit of caffeine but you can swap the regular coffee out for decaf, no problem.
You can omit the alcohol altogether or opt for a few tsp of rum essence or non-alcoholic rum alternative if preferred.
If you're leaving it out, compensate for the liquid amount for extra soy milk in the mascarpone custard base and additional coffee in the soak. Please note that this will affect the flavor of the dessert!
Technically yes, it just won't give you that luscious smooth consistency. To make it without, add the cooled custard to a large bowl and whisk with an electric mixer for a few minutes until light, then slowly add the mascarpone a couple of tbsp at a time while continuing to blend until light and creamy.
☕️ More Italian-Inspired Desserts
- 450 ml (1 ¾ cups + 2 ½ tbsp) soy milk, or oat milk or almond milk
- 75 ml (⅓ cup) dark rum, or Amaretto/marsala/brandy *see note 4
- 120 g (⅗ cup) granulated sugar
- 60 g (½ cup) cornstarch, cornflour
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 180 g (6.35 oz) vegan butter (block-style), cold and cut into small cubes *see note 5
- 160 ml (⅔ cup) espresso, freshly brewed + cooled to room temperature
- 50 ml (⅕ cup) dark rum, or Amaretto/marsala/brandy *see note 4
- 50 g (½ cup) unsweetened cocoa powder
- Note: For the best and most accurate results, I recommend measuring your ingredients using a digital scale.
- Make the vegan sabayon: Add the soy milk, rum, sugar, cornstarch, and vanilla extract to a heavy-bottomed saucepan and whisk well until smooth without any visible lumps.
- Bring to a simmer over low-medium heat while continuously whisking. Cook for 3-4 minutes until you have a very thick custard. Note: If you're using a gas hob, be extra vigilant and cook it out on the lowest temperature setting to make sure the mixture does not thicken too quickly.
- Remove the saucepan from the heat. Add the cold cubed butter to a large mixing bowl and pour the hot custard on top. Whisk vigorously - It will appear split at first but after a few seconds the ingredients will emulsify leaving you with an incredibly smooth and glossy pastry cream consistency.
- Cover the sabayon with plastic wrap - this will prevent it from forming a skin. Make sure you leave no space between the custard and the clingfilm. Place it in the fridge to chill completely for 30 minutes to an hour.
- Make the mascarpone cream filling: Once chilled, the sabayon will be extremely thick - so much that it will feel wrong! But don’t worry, this is what you need for the pudding to set properly. Add the vegan mascarpone to a blender jug and scoop the sabayon mixture on top of it. If your blender is small, do this in 2 batches.
- Blend the filling until smooth and creamy. This should not take very long, under a minute. Set aside.
- Make the espresso soak: In a wide shallow bowl or container, mix together room temperature espresso and rum, set aside.
- Assemble: Add a thin layer of the mascarpone cream to the base of a 10.5"x7.5" dish (or similar), smooth it out with the back of a spoon or an offset spatula. Individually dip each ladyfinger in the rum-espresso soak for 2-3 seconds on each side and arrange them side by side on top of the cream.
- For the most even layers, divide the remaining vegan mascarpone cream into 2 parts. With a spatula, carefully smooth out one part on top of the ladyfingers. Repeat a second layer of soaked ladyfingers on top of this.
- Spread the remaining mascarpone mixture on top. Take your time and smooth it out as evenly as possible with an offset spatula.
- Generously dust unsweetened cocoa powder on top of the final layer of mascarpone. You can use a pastry brush to carefully brush away any powder from the sides of the baking dish. Refrigerate the tiramisu until set for at least 4-6 hours (for best results - overnight!)
- Serving: Carefully mark out your servings with a sharp knife and wipe the knife clean between each cut. I highly recommend using a wide metal spatula to lift out the slices. Then use a large knife or cake scraper to carefully push the tiramisu off of the spatula and onto your serving plate.
- Storage: Make sure you store it in the refrigerator until serving. Tightly cover the baking dish with plastic-wrap so that it is not exposed to the air as this can cause it to dry out and absorb odors from the fridge. It will keep in the fridge for 4 days. To freeze, you can add the set tiramisu to an airtight container and freeze for up to a month. Defrost it on a plate in the fridge overnight before serving.
- Vegan mascarpone: Make this 1-2 days ahead (it needs to set in the fridge for a minimum of 12 hours). Swap homemade for store-bought vegan mascarpone if preferred.
- “Cheat’s" vegan mascarpone: Whisk together 400 g (14.11oz) vegan cream cheese, 200g (7oz) vegan Greek-style yogurt, and ½ teaspoon lemon juice for an alternative quick mascarpone.
- Vegan ladyfingers: Make sure the cookies are completely cool before assembling the tiramisu. If baking a day ahead, store the cookies in an airtight container at room temperature until ready to use.
- Alcohol-free version: You can omit the alcohol altogether or opt for a few tsp of rum essence or non-alcoholic rum alternative if preferred. If leaving it out, compensate for the liquid amount for extra milk in the custard and additional coffee in the soak. Please note that this will affect the flavor of the dessert!
- Vegan butter: This recipe calls for block-style such as violife block, flora plant butter, or naturli block, NOT spreadable butter from a tub.
- Make a small batch vegan tiramisu by reducing the recipe. For an 8"x8" pan reduce the recipe to ¾ (this will generously feed 6-8 people), or for a loaf pan version (around 4 decent servings), cut the recipe in half.
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*This recipe was originally published in September, 2021. The recipe has since been improved and updated with minimized ingredients, improved method and simplified instructions