When I was a college student at NYU in the early nineties, tiramisu was all the rage. Funny thing, I believe plenty of folks are still raging over the traditional Italian treat. It’s usually a casserole-ish dessert made with ladyfinger cookies, coffee, mascarpone cheese and chocolate with some kind of liquor for accent. Different sources site different booze as the “traditional” variety- rum, amaretto or marsala wine. Really though, wouldn’t any one of them be delicious?
Over the years, we’ve had various vegan tiramisu desserts, all of which were wonderful. But it’s usually a messy dish and not portable, especially for sharing at the holidays. So we decided to give it a new spin. Why not a cookie sandwich? And why not with a little holiday flavor? Our version uses a chocolate gingerbread cookie and has a vegan cream cheese filling, with coffee and amaretto extracts. So you’re getting all the usual tiramisu yum, but it’s easier to hold in your hand. Um… it might be a little itsy bit messy, though we suspect you will welcome the chance to lick your fingers!
Tiramisu Gingerbread Sandwich Cookies
2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
2 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
2 tsp. cinnamon
pinch ground cloves
pinch ground allpsice
pinch ground nutmeg
1/3 cup non-dairy milk (we used soy milk)
1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
1 Tbs. ground flax meal
2 Tbs. warm water
1/3 cup molasses
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. instant coffee powder
1/2 cup vegan margarine, softened to room temperature (we use Earth Balance)
4-oz. vegan cream cheese, softened to room temperature (1/2 of a container, we used Toffuti)
3 Tbs. vegan shortening (we used Spectrum)
2 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp. arrowroot starch powder
1/3 tsp. coffee extract
1/3 tsp. amaretto extract
melted chocolate, chocolate covered espresso beans, as desired
Preheat oven to 350. Cover two baking sheets with parchment paper or reusable silcone baking mats; set aside.
In a small dish, stir together non-dairy milk and apple cider vinegar. Set aside to curdle into “vegan buttermilk.” In a large mixing bowl, stir together flax seed meal with warm water; set aside to congeal as this will be the binder.
Sift together dry ingredients in a second bowl.
In mixing bowl with flax seed and water, add molasses, sugar, brown sugar, vanilla, instant coffee powder, softened vegan margarine and curdled milk/vinegar. Whip together with electric beaters until smooth. Add dry ingredients and combine until just mixed; do not overwork or cookies will become tough.
Form into 1 -tablespoon scoops on prepared cookie sheets. Bake at 350 for ten minutes; allow to cool for 15 minutes on cookie sheet before transferring to a cooling rack. Makes about 40 cookies.
Before filling the cookie sandwiches, cool the cookies completely.
To prepare filling, whip together room temperature vegan cream cheese and shortening with an electric mixer or stand mixer until fluffy. Add powdered sugar and mix on low, so it doesn’t poof all over your kitchen. When powdered sugar is moistened, turn power to medium or high, and combine thoroughly. Finally add arrowroot powder, coffee extract and amaretto extract. Whip filling until all ingredients are smooth and incorporated.
To assemble cookies as in the photo, dip 20 cookie bottoms in melted chocolate and allow to cookie. Top the other 20 cookies with a dollop of filling. Nestle a chocolate-dipped cookie onto the filling, chocolate-side down. Drizzle the top with more melted chocolate in any pattern desired and place a chocolate-covered espresso bean into warm drizzle.
Allow all chocolate to set/cool before serving. Store in fridge – if you have any left long enough!
Need a shortcut? Skip all the melted chocolate and just smear filling between too cookies. It’s still tasty, just not as pretty. Or chocolatey!
Cook’s Notes: Don’t know how to melt chocolate? We use a double boiler method. Basically, we place a glass bowl on a saucepan filled with water. Place of low heat and add chocolate to the glass bowl. The chocolate should never touch the water or steam – it will seize and you’ll have to start over again. Stir frequently until chocolate is smooth and velvety. This also works in the microwave, using just a glass dish. Microwave on low power a minute at a time, stirring between each heating until smooth.
Wondering why we used coffee and amaretto extracts? In a test, we found that the extracts had more concentrated flavor for the filling. Adding more liquid with real coffee and amaretto made the filling too runny. Feel free to experiment, though!