Gluten-Free Vegan Tiramisu {Raw & Paleo}

Raw Tiramisu {Gluten-Free, Vegan, Paleo, Refined Sugar-Free}

{Gluten-Free, Vegan, Refined Sugar-Free, Paleo, and with Raw}

Last week I got invited by Charlotte from Tuscany Now to participate in the Tuscany Now Cook-Off Competition and I have to admit I couldn’t resist the challenge. I used to have a friend who was an Italian baker and cake decorator and she would often treat me to some of her traditional favorites, and I swear, Italians have some amazing desserts to their name! These days though, with my food restrictions and all, I hardly ever get to enjoy real Italian desserts and confections, so hearing of the opportunity to craft an Italian dessert of my own sounded intriguing.

I decided to try out a classic — a gluten-free vegan tiramisu, which of all the Italian desserts I tried I’ve missed the most. Happy to report it came out Incredible! Like eating it at 2AM incredible… And best yet, it is paleo and can easily be made as a raw cake. This super-easy to make, healthy, wholesome, and allergen-friendly tiramisu has my name all over it ;) .

Raw Tiramisu {Gluten-Free, Vegan, Paleo, Refined Sugar-Free}

This cake does require a few preparations in advance which I’ll outline first:

– You’ll be using lots of medjool dates for this recipe and unless they are very soft and fresh you’ll need to pre-soak and strain them first. You can do this quickly by pouring boiling water over them and letting them soak for 15 minutes, or if you want this cake to be raw then pour cold water over the dates and let them soak for at least an hour.

– You’ll be using canned coconut (unless you’re keeping this cake raw, in which case see ingredients list for raw substitution). You’ll need to chill the 2 cans of full fat coconut milk in the fridge overnight so that the water and the cream separate in the can. When the recipe calls for cream, just scoop out the top white creamy layer from the can and reserve the water for later use.

– You’ll be using cashews and some walnuts which will need to be soaked (separately) as well for at least an hour or overnight. In a pinch and if not concerned about the recipe being raw, pour boiling water over the cashews and let them soak for about 15 minutes. NOTE: the walnuts in the ladyfinger part do not need to be soaked.

– Lastly, this cake will need to be chilled for at least 4-5 hours, so best to make it a day ahead. It stores really well in the fridge and can be kept in the freezer for longer storage.

Hope this list didn’t intimidate you — I promise, this cake is worth every extra step. You won’t regret it! And now to the recipe:

Raw Tiramisu {Gluten-Free, Vegan, Paleo, Refined Sugar-Free}

5.0 from 1 reviews
Gluten-Free Vegan Tiramisu {Raw & Paleo}
Prep time
Cook/Chill Time
Ready In
Makes: 9" cake
"Ladyfingers" Layer Ingredients:
  • 3 cup walnuts (not soaked)
  • 2 cups medjool dates, pre-soaked (see notes above)
  • ¼ cup strong coffee
  • ⅛ tsp raw ground vanilla bean
  • pinch of salt
Chocolate Mousse Layer Ingredients:
  • 1½ - 2 cups medjool dates, pre-soaked (see notes above)
  • Cream from 2 cans of full fat coconut milk (see notes above. Note: for a raw version, use 1½ cups raw coconut cream)
  • 1½ cups walnuts, pre-soaked
  • ½ cup very strong coffee
  • ¼ cup coconut oil, melted
  • ¼ cup cocoa powder {use raw cacao powder for raw version}
  • ½ tsp raw ground vanilla
  • pinch of salt
  • ½ cup coconut water (or regular water. I used reserved coconut water from one of the cans in the previous step)
  • 2 tbsp agar agar flakes
Vanilla Cream Layer Ingredients:
  • 1 cup cashews, pre-soaked (see notes above)
  • ¼ cup coconut oil
  • ½ cup coconut water or water (I used reserved coconut water from one of the cans in the previous step).
  • 5 tbsp maple syrup
  • ⅛ tsp raw ground vanilla bean
  • A bit of extra cocoa/raw cacao powder for dusting + optional cacao nibs for garnish
  1. Place walnuts in a food processor and process until mixture is fine and crumbly. Add in all remaining "ladyfingers" layer ingredients and process until the mixture is more or less smooth. Transfer contents into a 9" springform pan and press base layer down evenly. Place the pan in the freezer while working on the next step.
  2. Place all chocolate mousse layer ingredients, except for coconut water and agar-agar (last two ingredients) in your blender and blend until mixture is smooth (a good blender like a Vitamix works best). Set aside.
  3. Place coconut water and agar agar in a small saucepan and warm on medium-low heat until the agar-agar flakes are dissolved, stirring occasionally. Do not overcook, and do not allow the mixture to come to a boil. Just heat until the flakes just dissolve. Add this agar-agar mixture to the blender with the chocolate mousse ingredients and blend through to incorporate the two mixtures together. Pour into the springform pan over the base layer and place back in the freezer for about an hour to chill and harden.
  4. Prepare the vanilla cream layer by placing all the ingredients into a clean blender and blend until the mixture is smooth. Set aside at room temperature. Once the chocolate mousse layer has been chilled for about an hour, pour the vanilla cream layer into the pan over the chocolate mousse. Return cake to the freezer for at least 2-3 more hours.
  5. Once the cake has chilled in the freezer for a total of 4 hours, remove the side of the pan and transfer cake onto a serving plate. Dust the cake with some cocoa powder. I used some cacao nibs as well for garnish. Now that the cake is ready, transfer it into the fridge and keep it refrigerated. You can serve right away as a chilled cake, but it's much more amazing after thawing out a little in the fridge as it actually becomes mousse-like. Alternatively, you can keep it frozen for longer storage.
Raw Tiramisu {Gluten-Free, Vegan, Paleo, Refined Sugar-Free}


xo Audrey

P.S. A big thanks to Charlotte for encouraging me to get creative and come up with this incredible tiramisu for the #TuscanyNowCookOff!

P.P.S. Note: I’ve updated the recipe to fit the paleo and grain-free diet (and it made it taste a whole lot better too!


This Gluten-Free Vegan Tiramisu has been shared with #glutenfreefridays, Fat Tuesday, Gluten-Free Wednesdays, Allergy-Free Wednesdays, Waste Not Want Not Wednesday, Real Food Wednesday, Sweet & Savoury Sunday, Let’s Get Real Friday Party, and Gluten-Free & DIY Tuesdays.

Baking in Pyjamas

** A big thanks to Adrienne @ Whole New Mom and to Lauren @ Baking In Pyjamas for featuring this recipe!



  1. BJMarley says

    Is there something else that I can use instead of cashews? This looks so delicious, but I don’t want to be using an auto-inject anti-allergy pen.

    • Audrey says

      Gosh, the cake is good, but definitely not worth an anti-allergy jab :) . Too bad about the cashew allergy, but having tons of food restrictions myself I can relate. Macadamia nuts are the closest substitute and will work really well. Can you have those? Or no nuts in general?

      • Pam says

        Well, it looks pretty good to me, and I’m interested in paleo gluten-free baking. But I can’t have ANY nuts (except coconut, which isn’t a nut), or any bean products. I am pretty good at GF baking with the dairy still included, but I haven’t tried any paleo, mostly because the recipes are heavy on nut products. Do you have a suggestion for substitutions in this for the walnuts and cashews that aren’t other nuts? Just curious. Thanks!
        (I’m GF, plus allergic to all nuts, beans (including peanuts and soy), oats, eggs, pork, melons, squash, eggplant, fish, shellfish, pineapple, bell peppers, avocados, parsnips, mushrooms, & strawberries…

        • Audrey says

          Hi Pam, no worries. I’ve got so many foods off my list too, and you’re right paleo can be pretty nut-heavy. You didn’t mention it, but can you do sunflower seeds?

          There is a really wonderful product I use frequently as a nut substitute in many recipes — dried white mulberries {you can see them as a topping on this cake so you know what they look like — and that cake might be up your alley too ;) }. They are very dry and sort of crunchy/chewy and when ground up have the consistency of ground nuts. They would work wonderfully well as a substitute for the walnuts in the base of this cake.

          For the chocolate and vanilla cream layers it’s a little bit more tricky because the nuts used there are ground up into a super smooth consistency — something you can’t do with mulberries. So I would suggest replacing the walnuts and cashews in those layers with sunflower seeds. If those are not an option, let me know and I’ll try to make other substitution ideas.

          Hope these suggestions can help you enjoy this cake! :)

  2. Lani says

    Wow this sounds so good, I’m going to try it tomorrow, just wondering where the oats are in the ladyfinger ingredients? Or is this recipe good to use and the oats were omitted? I don’t want to get anything wrong! Thanks :-)

    • Audrey says

      Hi Lani. Sorry about that. I put a note at the end of the recipe explaining that I updated it to fit the paleo diet, but I forgot to update the instructions. I’ll fix that now. The cake tastes much better using just walnuts in place of some oats. Hope you like it! :)

  3. Trish says

    What would be the best substitution for the walnuts? I like them, but they don’t like me!

    • Audrey says

      Hi Trish,

      Not sure if you can do any of these nuts, but I would use pecans as a first choice, or some almonds or brazil nuts. I think pecans in the “ladyfingers” layer would work best because of their texture, and then for the chocolate mousse layer you can use any of the nuts above (or a combination), or just more pecans. I bet that would be yummy! Let me know if you give any of these alternatives a go — I’d love to hear how it turns out!

      • Trish says

        Thanks! I can’t have almonds either, but I think pecans are okay. Will try it sometime and let you know. I only bake on special occasions, so it might not be soon!

        • Audrey says

          Sure, no worries, Trish :) I hope it works out whenever you try it. I think pecans would be awesome in this.

  4. says

    This looks amazing! I needed something like this to take to a party this Saturday. Perfect timing! Thank you!

    • Audrey says

      Glad I could help, Melissa! Enjoy it :)

  5. says

    Audrey–This cake looks BEYOND INCREDIBLE! Thanks so much for sharing it on Gluten-Free Wednesdays! :-) FYI–Oats are still shown in the directions. I suspect those were one of the ingredients you changed when you made this recipe paleo. Just wanted to give you a heads up as I’ve shared this link on FB and don’t want anyone to fuss at either of us. ;-)


    • Audrey says

      Thanks so much, Shirley. I must have missed the oats again then — sheesh :). Going to fix that now. Thanks for the heads up.

    • Audrey says

      Thanks so much, Shirley! I must have missed the oats again then — sheesh :). Going to fix that now. Thanks for the heads up and for sharing the recipe.

  6. CL says

    This looks amazing! Just wondering how heavy it is (nuts and dates and coconut milk isn’t something that would take me lightly KWIM?) and it seems like it would be very pricey?

    • Audrey says

      Thanks CL! Raw (or nearly raw) cakes do tend to be more nutrient dense, but I couldn’t taste that denseness in this cake. It felt more light and fluffy when I had it out of the fridge, like a mousse cake. I made it this large for a special occasion, but I normally tend to make raw cakes in a 6″ round springform pan and I think that’s what I’d definitely do next time. That means using only 1/3 of the ingredients, so it would save on cost and would also make it so you can enjoy smaller slices of a healthier dessert without the guilt ;)

      • joanne says

        I’m not great at math, but had read elsewhere that a 6″ round springform pan was about half of a 9″ pan, so wouldn’t you halve the recipe, and not use only 1/3 of the ingredients? Of course, the person who wrote that could be wrong, so I’m just clarifying for myself when I use a 6″ pan. Thanks!

        • Audrey says

          Hi Joanne,

          Good question. I normally recommend the 9″ proportions to be halved for a 6″ cake in all my recipes {I a deep 6″ springform pan on a regular basis}, so you are correct in your conversion estimate there in general. This cake in 9″ was quite tall however, unlike most of the raw 9″ cakes I make or have seen. My concern therefore is that halving the ingredients might be too much for a 6″ pan based on its volume capacity {and I normally use a deep pan, like this one}. A third of the ingredients therefore seems to be just right in the case of this cake.

  7. Veronica says

    Fantastic recipe! I made all three layers in the vitamix. The lady finger layer was too pasty in the vitamix but it had perfect flavor. I will try using a food processor next time to avoid over processing the walnuts for the base layer. My husband actually said he liked this better than real tiramisu. We also shared this with my best friend from college and her family, and they loved it. The kids thought they were eating ice cream cake! That was quite a treat for my son who can’t have dairy to get to enjoy something that has been off limits. Thanks again for sharing your recipes!

    • Audrey says

      Hi Veronica — I’m SOOO happy to hear you and your family liked it! :) And thanks for sharing the feedback about the base layer int he Vitamix. I can see how it can get too pasty if over-processed, but I’m glad it still worked out so well. That’s my favorite part about raw (or nearly raw) cakes — you put the best ingredients into them, and it’s hard to get a bad end result — even if it’s a mess, it’ll still almost always taste incredible ;)

  8. Karen says

    That looks decadent and delicious. I can’t have coffee. I know I could sub cocoa or chocolate ‘milk’ but I’m wondering about using orange juice instead. I don’t see why it wouldn’t work and the flavor should be amazing…. What do you think?

    • Karen PK Morris says

      You can’t have coffee or you can’t have caffeine? You could always do decaf and keep in mind, the whole cake has only 3/4 cup, so that comes out to only a couple tablespoons per serving :)

      • Audrey says

        Good idea. Decaf would definitely work well in this cake too.

    • Audrey says

      Hi Karen,

      I haven’t tried it personally, but I think that could be a very interesting flavor combination and I don’t see why it wouldn’t work! I love chocolate and orange together. Let me know how it goes if you give it a go — I’m so curious how it’ll come out!

    • Kathleen says

      Hi Karen, This may have been suggested already but we use an herbal coffee substitute from Teeccino. Personally, I love it. I brew it as strong coffee for recipes and making iced coffee at home. Plus, we make almost raw mocha smoothies with the grounds once the weather gets warm! I put a link below to the flavor I normally buy, but you’ll see they have many. We do zero caffeine, I cannot handle it, so this has saved me many times! Enjoy!

      • Audrey says

        Hi Kathleen, thanks for the additional suggestion for Karen.

        I think Teeccino is a great alternative for a coffee substitute and would definitely work here. BUT {and it’s a big potential BUT here} it is NOT gluten-free as it contains barley, so for anyone who is on a gluten-free diet this won’t work. Teeccino currently only has one flavor that is gluten-free, so that one can be used here safely {and it’s actually quite delicious!}, but the rest is only safe for those not gluten or grain-intolerant.

        Just wanted to put it out here as someone who is gluten-free I accidentally got very ill from drinking their regular coffee substitute before — definitely delicious, but not worth the side-effects for those who can’t consume gluten ;). Though the one type they have that’s certified GF is very good and I hope they come out with more options in the future too.

  9. says

    I am speechless. I’ve never even had tiramisu!!! Got any ideas of how I can recreate the lady fingers without the dates? That’s where I am stumped :). Thanks Audrey!

    • Audrey says

      Hey Adrienne,

      Not sure if you can do figs or prunes, but those will work well. Otherwise, for a very low sugar version, here’s what I’m thinking — the dates provide a stickiness, moisture, and sweeteness. So for stickiness and moisture, maybe try a bit of sweet potato puree mixed with xylitol or stevia? Another idea is to use some coconut butter + stevia/xylitol. I haven’t tried this, but it seems like it would work well to me. If you do get to try it out, let me know how it works out — I’d love to know! The thing with this type of recipe is that you can pretty much taste if something works or not right away, so whatever you try, just give it a taste and see how you like it and adjust as necessary.

  10. says

    What a beautiful cheesecake, it looks and sounds super yummy. This has been featured as one of my favourites over at Sweet and Savoury Sunday. Stop by, grab a button and link up again with us this week. Have a great day!

    • Audrey says

      Hi Laura — thanks SOOO much! :) See you over at Sweet & Savoury Sunday!

  11. deb says

    YUMMMMMMMY! i’m not even a vegan and i can’t wait until i make this. wish i had time to open a small bakery (too much red tape, and a town that is not business friendly,even though they say they are); we have lots of 7th day adventist/vegans in my town who would love to have this type of food available.

    • Audrey says

      Thanks deb! That’s what I love about raw cakes too — most people will love them, regardless of whether they are vegan or not; the wholesome ingredients make up the entire flavor. Enjoy it!

    • Audrey says

      Thanks so much Lisa! I’m so always happy when healthier desserts don’t compromise the taste or look of the treat. I think the best part is that the “impressive” look of this type of cake is so easy to achieve — you just pour batter in layers and freeze, but the result looks like you’ve worked really hard for it ;)

  12. Jacinta says

    Hi! Your tiramisu looks AMAZING! Two questions: first, I have agar powder (not flakes) and I think I can sub 2 tsp agar powder for the 2 TBS flakes–do you know if this is right? Second, what is raw ground vanilla? Is it the same thing as vanilla extract, and if not, can I use vanilla extract instead? Thank you so much!

    • Audrey says

      Hi Jacinta — thanks so much! :)

      For the agar — yes, 2 tbsp flakes = 2 tsp powder. Same amount of water (or coconut water) though for both (1/2 cup).

      Raw ground vanilla is literally a ground up vanilla bean. I love using it because of the amazingly intense flavor it has (compared to the extract). If you don’t have any though, the next best alternative is to scrape out the contents of a vanilla bean pod (they usually sell those at regular grocery stores in the spice section or in the baking section — this has a really nice flavor as well). If you can’t lay your hands on either the ground vanilla or the vanilla pods, then pure vanilla extract would work just fine too.

      Enjoy it! :)

  13. Nicole says

    Hi, this looks sooo yummy. How can I substitute the agar agar? My daughter is on scd. I can manage the rest of non scd ingredients but I need your help with agar agar. Thx

    • Audrey says

      Hi Nicole,

      So sorry, just noticed my response to your question didn’t get published for some odd reason! Hope it’s not too late:

      You can just skip the agar agar altogether. It helps with the texture a bit, but it’s not essential. Just make sure you keep the cake chilled up until serving time. If you’re not vegan, you can try substituting a bit of unflavored gelatin, though I haven’t tried it personally.

  14. Thatgirlcookshealthy says

    Yummy, I could easily eat the screen of my laptop.

    • Audrey says

      Thanks! Glad you like it :)

  15. joanne says

    This cake looks fantastic and I’m going to attempt making it in a few days. I was curious about what you wrote regarding the alternative to using canned full fat coconut milk if a raw version was desired by using raw coconut cream. I’m confused because I thought the coconut milk in the can was raw.. can you please clarify the difference? Also, is the cocoa powder in your recipe the same as raw cacao powder? Is it necessary to line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper? Thanks!

    • Audrey says

      Thanks so much, Joanne!

      About the coconut cream — it’s a bit of a grey area, as some consider it raw and some don’t. Although canned coconut cream is generally not pasteurized {it’s apparently sometimes heated, but allegedly not above 110F}, many companies add additives and preservatives to their product {which would be listed on the label}, and also very little is known about how each company actually prepares it {so if they do heat it higher than 110 for some reason, you wouldn’t know it unless you contact the specific company to find out — though most likely, as I mentioned, it would be fine as apparently most companies don’t exceed the 110F threshold}, so if you’re ok with all that, then canned coconut cream with minimal additives would work fine {I’m personally fine with that}, but if you’re a strict raw foodist, you can easily make your own raw coconut cream for the purpose {here’s a good recipe for it}.

      I didn’t line my pan with parchment and it worked fine — the cake came off the pan very cleanly. It couldn’t hurt lining it though if you are at all concerned.

      And yes, for a raw version I would use raw cacao powder — it tastes much better than regular cocoa powder too :) . Thanks for pointing it out, I added that as a note to the recipe for clarity.

      Enjoy the cake! :) And don’t hesitate to ask if you have any further questions.

    • Audrey says

      Thank you, Jana! I’m so happy about the feature — glad this cake is getting some love :)

  16. Anna says

    This cake looks absolutely amazing!! I will make it for my mum this mother’s day :) However, she doesn’t really like frozen cake so I was wondering if you have to freeze the cake at all? Is it not enough to just chill it in the fridge? The agar would hold it together anyway wouldn’t it?

    Thank you soo much, I have been looking for this recipe for ages! :)

    • Audrey says

      Hi Anna,

      So sorry for the delayed reply — I’m traveling and haven’t had internet access for a few days. The cake is fine to serve out of the fridge. I’d still freeze it initially just to ensure it sets fully but then once it’s set I’d transfer it and store it in the fridge for serving. I know Mothers’ Day is today — not sure if you had a chance to make the cake already, but I hope your mom enjoys it if you did! :)

    • Audrey says

      Thanks so much. Can’t wait to see your version!

  17. Aire says

    I just made myself vanilla layer cream with strawberries. Omg…people you have to try it…

    • Audrey says

      Aw, so happy you were able to enjoy this — it is a wonderful topping on its own and definitely tastes amazing with strawberries — in fact I’ve got a strawberry version in the works ;) Thank you for taking the time to share!

  18. Dawn says

    Would the deglet noor dates work as well? Any adjustments needed if using?

    • Audrey says

      Hi Dawn,

      Deglet noor dates would work just fine here. The main thing is that they need to be soft {which is the main reason I prefer Medjool dates — they’re usually naturally softer}, so if the seem on the dry side pre-soak them in hot water for about 15 minutes to re-hydrate them. Otherwise no adjustments — the amounts are interchangeable cup-for-cup.


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