Tofu Tiramisu & Why Failures Are A Blessing In Disguise

The thing is, when I made the first round of my tofu tiramisus, I put my soul into them. 

Slightly tipsy on Jim Beam-spiked hot apple cider–don’t knock the bottom shelf til you’ve had a shot floating in a cup of someone’s mama’s hot apple cider–on Christmas Eve, I took my precious time assembling these tiramisu. Blending all high-quality ingredients in the vitamix to make my dairy-free custard–raw cashews, two wide blocks of organic silken tofu, multiple teaspoons of Madagascar vanilla, fresh lemon juice, Vermont maple syrup, coconut sugar, both an orange’s zest and its juice, virgin coconut oil and some cointreau too.  Why so fancy? Why so many ingredients? My reasons were simple: Tiramisu is a fancy as hell, it’s one of my favorites, and it was a special occasion and a special day, and I only wanted the best.  Plus there was the extra goal of muting the strong soybean flavor from the tofu– actually my biggest concern.  The lemon juice would give it a cream cheese tang, something close in the flavor family of a mascarpone–the key ingredient in traditional tiramisu.  Little did I know, I was overthinking it…again.

Still, I soak my ladyfingers in concentrated coffee, I lasagna-layer my glasses filling them to their brims, I cover their smooth, flat heads with a tight cling of plastic wrap, and carefully schelp them over to the fridge; only, when I arrive, I find no shelf low enough to hold my tallest tiramisu… 

I forgot. It’s Christmas; there’s never any extra fridge space! I think on my feet with no free hands, lowering my body into an uncomfortable lunge (when are they ever comfortable though?), place one of the glasses on the floor, and begin rearranging the side shelves–the ones that also house my long pickle jars and cooking wines–with my other hand.  Shoving less important things around and turning other things on their sides, I manage to open some space, and I secure both my tiramisus. Success! I close the door, but as I do, the tallest wine glass tips right out of its new home and shatters on the floor. NOT success. 

I go from shock to greif to pissed in milliseconds.  I don’t know where to direct the blame for this catastrophe, because it of course couldn’t really be my fault?!  And while I’m picking the shards of glass jumbled within the soupy, what-I-hoped-would-harden-within-the-next-few-hours custard from the parquet floor, cursing the Universe, I try to keep myself together by remembering the still-intact tiramisu on the second shelf. I edit my original fantasy, the one of me and Eric eating tiramisu on Christmas morning beneath the glittering and glowing tree. “We could still split this single serving amongst ourselves”, I think, trying to mollify the mess I’d made, grateful my dreams weren’t completely and literally shattered at this point. 

But instead of just giving up, I decide to replace my fallen soldier.

I Regroup: I am out of raw cashews, and I’m not about to go through that tedious trouble of measuring and blending a second time, so, instead, I soak a few more lady fingers, throw the last block of tofu I have into the blender and sprinkle some coconut sugar in there too. Nothing else fancy. I layer another glass with this new desultory concoction, and put it in the fridge, this time snuggled between two pillars of flax oil so it won’t budge at all. Simple as that. It was so simple in fact, I began to wonder why the universe had placed such a tiny obstacle in my path in the first place…

Flashback: here’s a photo I took of Eric in front of a tiramisu we got in Atrani, Italy, only a few months ago. I told you I would eventually share some photos. This one was pretty delicious. 

Fast forward to Christmas Morning: I pull the tiramisu out of the fridge.  Tiramisu #1 (the original) is still soupy like all get out–not the consistency I was rooting for. I remove the plastic from Tiramisu#2– I see little pores covering the surface–so I know the texture is pretty solid. Then came the taste test. Whaaaa—T#2 is 1000X better than the first! How could it be? I put absolutely nothing, not my soul nor my maple syrup into the second version! But Tiramisu#1 is completely overpowering, and so it fails the test.

Immediately I laughed at life, and how helpful it can be. If I didn’t break that glass (and use all my cashews in the first go round), I wouldn’t have made the magical mistake of Tiramisu#2. And while I still need to replace my wine glass (it was a good one), I needed to fail so loudly in order to wake up. Thank goodness it shattered on the floor right in front of me making me pay full attention and forcing me to regroup–aaannnddd this can be a metaphor for so many other areas of my life. Which is all I’m getting at here. 

Here’s the recipe for Tiramisu#2 because we are definitely bringing this recipe with us into the New Year:

I recommend 2 shallow margarita glasses for serving, because it tastes best when there is 1 layer of cream and at least 1 equal layer of coffee-soaked ladyfingers. Getting the right balance is necessary so that the soybean flavor doesn’t shine through! 

  • 1, 16 ounce block silken tofu (or 1 block of firm tofu plus a few tbsp or so of unsweetened plant-based milk to help blend it into a smooth paste)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup coconut sugar
  • 1/4 cup instant coffee (I used decaf)
  • 1/2 cup hot water
  • 1 tbsp cointreau
  • 1 package of ladyfingers (you’ll need about 18ish)
  • unsweetened cocoa powder, for topping
  • shaved dark chocolate (optional)
  • orange zest (optional)
  • OH! there is also some aquafaba meringue on top too, that I beat and pipped and broiled separately and then carefully placed on top (because I don’t own a blow torch). You can also use soy or rice whipped cream or whip some of your own coconut cream too to top it off (all optional)


In a blender blend the tofu, (milk if necessary), vanilla, and coconut sugar until smooth and completely combined. 

In a shallow dish mix the coffee, hot water, and cointreau together until combined. The dish should be wide enough so that the liquid is only about 1/4 inch deep. 

Begin layering the glasses: Place a small amount of cream into the base of the glasses. Then begin dipping the ladyfingers into the coffee mixture quickly, turning them over to coat. Don’t let them sit in the liquid-just turn them in the liquid enough to coat–less than 1 second per side–and immediately layer them into the glasses. Bring them up the sides slightly too. It should be about an inch deep. Cover with the tofu mixture, filling it to the brim. Smooth the top with an offset spatula. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight. Repeat with the second glass. When it’s time to serve, remove the plastic wrap, and dust with the cocoa powder, and sprinkle with chocolate shavings and orange zest if you’d like. Enjoy!

Happy, Fast-Approaching End to 2017. <3 

Mood Music Today: 

Ari Lennox- Night Drive 

Kendrick Lamar- Love

EARTHGANG – Meditate ft. J.I.D. singing to myself “lookin for peace in America, lookin for peace when I stare at you.” repeat.

Currently Re-reading Better than Before by Gretchen Rubin 



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