Tiramisu, Paleo Style

Tiramisù means “pick-me-up” in Italian. It definitely does that, with layers of creamy filling, espresso syrup and chocolate. This Paleo version will rival anything you’ll taste in Milano. Chefs love it too because it’s so easy to make. This tiramisu has three parts: 1) two cake layers 2) pastry cream 3) espresso syrup. It tastes sinfully decadent, however it is full of nutrient-dense ingredients like pure coconut meat, cashews, high-protein almond meal and eggs. It won’t raise blood sugar or cause weight gain if you use one of the natural zero-carb sweeteners.

Traditional Sambuca anise liqueur adds a spike to the syrup. Alcohol is not Paleo, so I used ground anise instead, which is optional. However this is YOUR dessert, and the Paleo Police disbanded eons ago. Ha ha!

Tiramisu is usually made in a large rectangle and served in squares. An expandable baker’s cake frame is a fantastic flex-tool I used for the cake. Or you can use two 8 x 11-inch tart pans with removable bottoms. It’s worth the investment in pans and a rectangle platter, as everyone goes crazy for this dessert and I make it a lot. However, if you don’t have the setup, it comes out just as good with two 8 or 9-inch square or round cake pans or spring form pans. If you’re pressed for time, you can make the cake layers ahead of time, wrap and freeze with parchment paper between the layers. You can make the pastry cream the day before and chill overnight. You can also assemble and freeze a whole tiramisu. Keep it refrigerated to hold its shape better. You’ll need a food processor and any style blender. If you have a super-blender like a BlendTec or VitaMix, your pastry cream will be sensually smooth! This serves 12 to 15 people. 

I baked 2 layers in an expandable stainless steel baker’s frame – it’s a fantastic flexible tool. Or use any 2 cake pans.

Assembly is happening! Soak the cake layers in espresso syrup and spread pastry cream on top.

Sprinkle with cacao powder and chocolate shavings. Strawberries are optional.

Tiramisu, Paleo Style




    Pastry Cream:
  1. In a large blender, combine the coconut milk, sweetener, soaked cashews, salt, vanilla, and lemon juice. Blend very well. Stop and stir if necessary. Cashews vary in density. So if your mixture becomes too thick to blend, just add a bit more liquid a tablespoon at a time.
  2. To prepare the agar: In a shallow nonstick pan over medium heat, stir the agar into 1/4 cup tablespoons of liquid. Cook and stir gently for 2 to 3 minutes until it is bubbling and gummy, and the flakes begin to dissolve. Add the agar mixture to the blender immediately and blend well to remove any lumps. You can also stir in the agar by hand in a mixing bowl or food processor if your cream is too thick to blend. The idea is to thicken the pastry cream so it will hold firm between the cake layers. If you use agar powder the cooking process will be much faster. Pour the finished pastry cream into a mixing bowl and chill for 3 hours, or until thick.
  3. Cake:
  4. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Cut parchment paper to line your pan.
  5. In any blender, add the eggs, coconut milk, vanilla, and vinegar. Blend very well several times to whip the eggs very smooth.
  6. In a dry food processor with the “S” blade, grind the sweetener to a very fine powder. Add the shredded coconut to the sweetener in the food processor. Spin it for a minute to become a very fine powder. Open the lid, stir the bottom, replace the lid, and grind again until the powder is uniformly fine.
  7. To the ingredients in the food processor, add the baking soda, salt, almond meal, and nutritional yeast (if using). Process well.
  8. To the dry mixture in the food processor add the blended wet ingredients. Mix briefly and pour into the pan. Do not delay as the rising action has started. Bake 15-17 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Don’t peek or the cake may fall. Allow the cake to cool for about 30 minutes in the pan on a rack.
  9. Espresso syrup:
  10. In a 2-cup glass measuring cup or equivalent container (a spout is helpful), whisk together the sweetener, warm water, coffee crystals, and anise powder. Stir until the crystals dissolve.
  11. To Assemble:
  12. Remove one cake layer from its baking pan onto a serving dish. Tuck a few pieces of parchment or wax paper under the edges so your platter stays clean. Use a fork to poke holes in the cake so it can soak up syrup like a sponge. Pour half of the espresso syrup slowly and evenly over the cake. Spread evenly with half of the chilled pastry cream and smooth flat. Dust the top evenly with cacao powder (It’s easy to dust with a fine-mesh tea strainer).
  13. Place the second layer of cake exactly on top of this, poke holes with a fork, and soak it with the rest of the espresso syrup, Then spread the rest of the pastry cream and smooth flat.
  14. Dust the top with cacao powder. Garnish with strawberries, if you like. Or chocolate shavings. Cut into 12 or 15 pieces and serve. Mamma mia! I’m in Italy!

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