Where to begin with this cake...? I made this cake on New Years day (yep, that's five months ago, I know ?). It was something I made completely unplanned, on a whim, just because I felt like I needed to go bake something (one of those moods). I was not intending this recipe for the blog, or for any other purpose really, so I just improvised the whole way through and ended up with these INCREDIBLE creamy, dreamy, rich, and full-flavored raw espresso layer Slices-O-Joy. I think in my mind I had something like an opera cake envisioned as the end result, and while this certainly isn't an opera cake, it's equally decadent and delicious.
When I took my first bite, I knew this recipe was destined to make people happy. But, darn it! No ingredient measurements were taken... So I quickly jotted down some notes from memory, and snapped a few photos of the slices that were not served up yet. You might be able to see my hazy mood from the few pics I managed to capture of this cake..
Improvization is one of the most important things in the creative process for me, and perhaps that is why this cake turned out so good. I made this without any "pressure"of keeping certain things out--like having this contain no nuts, or no grains, keeping the ingredients short, etc. So without trying to make this "free" from certain common allergens, they all ended up in this recipe! (Although of course there's still no dairy, gluten, and refined sugar...just sayin). Oh yes, coconut found its way in here too! And it has espresso...so probably not the best recipe for kiddos.
Anyways, leave me to my own devices on New Year's Day and this is what happens. I even usually stay away from too many layers just to keep things simple and less fussy....yep, that flew out the window! BUT, what can I say? This cake happened. And it happened to be insanely delicious ? It has a very deep flavor, it's creamy, fudgy, comforting, and complements a cup of coffee most beautifully. And, despite the layers it's truly easy to make (no baking = hard to mess up!)
The first time around I made it in a small rectangular tupperware container with tall walls. The second time I made (to figure out exact measurements) it was in a tall round 6" springform pan. Both worked great -- so the shape of the cake is up to you. Just make sure the container you use is tall enough to fit it all in :) (at least 2½"). Also as a side note, while I love, love, love the look of the little square slices, you do have to trim the uneven edges off so you lose some of the cake (well not lose, but, ya know...), whereas in the springform pan you get to keep it all intact.
Last note is that if you want to shorten the making time you can just do 3 layers -- Base + Cream + Chocolate -- and not worry about adding the extra chocolate layer under the cream. But it does look quite good when you tuck in with that extra little bit of a chocolate stripe on inside the cake....sure to impress ;)
Raw Espresso Layer Cake
Layers of chocolatey espresso and cream meld together in this vegan, gluten-free raw espresso cake.
- Prep Time: 1 hour
- Total Time: 1 hour
- Yield: 6" cake
- Category: Cake
- Method: Raw
- Cuisine: Dessert
- 1 cup raw almonds
- 1 cup gluten-free quick oats (or just under 1 cup oat flour or almond flour for a grain-free option)
- 5 tbsp almond butter
- 6 tbsp maple syrup
- 3 tbsp coconut manna
- 1 tsp instant espresso powder
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- ⅛ tsp salt
- ¼ cup blanched almond flour
- 6 tbsp coconut butter
- 2 tbsp maple syrup
- 2 tbsp non-dairy milk or water
- ½tbsp lemon juice
- 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1 tsp instant espresso powder
- ⅛ tsp salt
- ¼ cup creamy almond butter
- 3 tbsp maple syrup
- 2 tbsp cacao powder
- 2 tbsp water
- 1 tbsp coconut butter
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1 tsp instant espresso powder
- ⅛ tsp salt
- Have a 6" springform pan handy (or line a similar-sized tupperware container with tall sides with some parchment paper for square slices) and set aside. Process all base ingredients into a uniform mixture. Transfer into the prepared pan / container and flatten into a smooth base layer with the back of a spoon (I like to cover with a small piece of parchment paper and press down with a flat-bottomed object to make the layer top smooth and even). Freeze while working on the next step.
- Blend all cream layer mixture ingredients until smooth. Transfer into a separate bowl and set aside.
- Add all chocolate layer ingredients to the blender and blend until smooth.
- Assembly: pour ⅓ of the chocolate mixture over the prepared chilled base layer. Tap down to smooth out. Return to the freezer for about 20 mins to set a little. Then carefully evenly spoon the cream layer on top. Tap down on the counter to smooth out, and freeze for another 20 mins. Top with the remaining chocolate mixture and freeze once again for 5 hours or overnight for the cake to set. Allow the cake to thaw out bit before slicing and serving. Enjoy! Keep leftovers frozen.
Hi Audrey! This looks amazing. I was wondering if this dessert would hold up in warm weather? Thanks! Emily
Hi Emily, in warm weather it will hold up at room temp for about half an hour, maybe a bit longer. I'd keep it chilled until it's almost time to serve it, then thaw it out just a bit and slice up (it's harder to neatly slice once it's too soft). Hope this helps!
Hi, So excited to try this layers of decadence. Another coffee question tho, can it be granulated or will only powder work? Thankyou
Hi Chele, espresso powder has a much stronger flavor that gets released into the dessert more easily. Ground coffee will be mild in flavor in comparison, and potentially a touch gritty. It could work if you grind it superfine, and maybe use more, but just won't be as strongly coffee-flavored is all. Enjoy it :)
Thank you for sharing this recipe! Before starting to make it, I have one question: could I possibly replace the coconut butter with coconut oil? Thank you
Hi Alina. The coconut butter gives it a lot of creaminess and texture as well a specific flavor. The same quantity of coconut oil will create something "stiffer" and less creamy, but still delicious. If you can find coconut manna, I'd recommend giving it a try as per the original recipe. But if you can't, here's how I would modify it personally if I was doing it:
* Base layer -- coconut oil instead of coconut manna is not a problem. Just make sure your coconut oil isn't liquid, or otherwise let your layer freeze a touch (a few minutes) to harden before adding the next layer.
* Cream layer -- 4 tbsp cashew butter in place of coconut manna (or 1/2 a cup raw cashews, pre-soaked and strained first) + 2 tbsp coconut oil
* Chocolate layer -- coconut oil instead of butter is not a problem.
So it's really the cream layer I'd be worried about in terms of modifying, but I think if you can do the above or something similar you're good to go.
Thank you for the quick and detailed reply ! I have not found the coconut butter yet so I think I will give it a try using the coconut oil..
Sure thing. Would love to hear how it turns out for you with the substitutes. Enjoy it!
Hi, can I use Agave instead of maple syrup? It looks soooo good:-)
Absolutely :) Enjoy it!
This has a lot of coconut in it.
Does it have a coconut taste?
I'd say it depends on who you ask :) I'm generally desensitized to most coconut so I don't usually notice it as much. My husband normally hates coconut with a passion, but he didn't notice it in this particular dessert (phew!). I feel though that if you're not really into it or are overly sensitive to the flavor, this might be a bit noticeable. Wouldn't want you to go through the trouble of getting all the ingredients only to find out it's too coconutty.
Not sure if you tried the tiramisu recipe yet, but that's the closest thing to this I can think of from the recipes on the blog. You can make it into bars instead of a cake easily and you can't taste any coconut in it: https://www.unconventionalbaker.com/gluten-free-vegan-tiramisu/
We have an almond allergy in our house but cashews & walnuts are fine. What other flour could be substituted for the almond flour? I'm assuming I could use any nut butter for the almond butter. They sure look delicious!
Hi Tricia, cashews and cashew flour would work great in this recipe in place of the almonds. Walnuts would work great too, but they'll lend a stronger nutty flavor (whereas cashews are naturally more mild). And yes, another nut butter, like cashew, etc., would be just fine.
Thank you for the quick reply! I'll have to look for cashew flour :)
No worries. If you can't find it, you can always grind your own (just process nuts in a food processor into a flour consistency -- it doesn't have to be superfine for a recipe like this, so a homemade version will work great).
Audrey, these were sooo insanely delicious! I could stop licking my spoon when I made the chocolate layer, it's THAT good! Thank you for this amazing no bake dessert! ?
Hello! This looks amazing! I am planning to
Make it but can i use espresso instead of
Powder and less liquid?
Hi Jodi, you can, but you won't get a strong espresso flavor that way -- if that's ok with you, go for it. The instant powder is very concentrated and packs a lot of flavor, which you won't be able to achieve with brewed espresso in the same way, especially since there are only 4 tbsp of liquid in this whole recipe to play around with. You can skip the espresso too and just use another flavor -- like a bit of orange extract or almond extract as an alternative if that's easier. If you try it, let me know how it goes :)
So i ended up making my own like this....
I also topped the cake with a thin layer of coconut oil, raw cacao, date mixture. Was great! Thank you!
Oh, that's a great idea, Jodi! Thank you for sharing and good to know about that option -- never thought to make my own.
OMG! That list of ingredients makes me crazy, Audrey! It sounds and looks fabulous!
It's so good, Natalie -- simple, rich, deep... a small slice is all you need, with a good cup of hot chocolate of course ;)
Natalie | Feasting on Fruit says
I am all for improvisation and making it up as you go, but when I improvise things always turn out ridiculously simple not 4 layers of elegance! Or is it 4...it's 4, I lost count between chocolate 1 and chocolate 2. I really can't fathom how something like this just happens, it's amazing. Sometimes you just need a nothing-free everything-full cake :)
Haha. Nothing-free everything full just gave me a few interesting visuals ? But yes, sometimes free flowing ideas make the best things... I only wish I knew in those moments to just write things down anyhow just in case... I always lazy out and regret it later.
Kari @ bite-sized thoughts says
Oh gosh...amazing. What a delicious dessert! I think I'd struggle not to just eat the batter before it went into layers and the compiled product :P
Yes, that was definitely a struggle -- especially when it came to the chocolate layer :)
Cathrine Waage says
Hi Audrey, thank you for sharing your amazing recipes! I have one question; what kind of espresso powder do you use?
Kind regards, Cathrine :-)
Hi Cathrine. I used Nescafe this time, but I also love King Arthur's. Anything similar will work just fine.
Hello Audrey ♡♡♡
Could u answer my replies on here, please?
It's important :) https://www.unconventionalbaker.com/nut-free-dairy-free-baked-cheesecake-recipe/
Will do :) Just working through all the questions now.
thaks! I saw and replies again! waitin for ya :)
Hi Alessandra, I already responded to your questions about that cake earlier on.