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Italian for “pick-me-up”, probably because it puts together three of our favorite intense robust flavors: rum, chocolate and coffee (please don’t try to substitute any of them!). This dessert is so fabulous that I never bother to make the original dairy version. It’s also healthier, thanks to my staunch ally tofu. When you serve it, don’t tell anybody about the tofu until they have tasted and raved about it. That said, you can make this dessert dairy by replacing the tofu and tofu cream cheese with an 8 ounce container of cream cheese and a pint of plain yogurt, and proceeding with the recipe exactly as instructed. It is fine to use good store-bought sponge cake. Although sponge cake is not as pretty as ladyfingers, I prefer it because it maintains its shape better when soaked in the espresso and brandy. Lining the mold with plastic wrap allows very easy unmolding, just pull up the sides and the cake will lift right up. The chocolate must be only the best, meaning, real chocolate, as always! To chop chocolate, scrape the block vertically with a sharp knife: it will fall off in little shards or curls. Once you have all the ingredients in place, the dessert takes only a few minutes to assemble. Try your best to make this dessert a few hours before serving time, or even the day before, in order to give the dessert ample time to soak up all the flavors.


  • Ready Time : 0 min



  • 11/4 pounds store-bought sponge cake
  • 1 pound silken tofu, throughly drained and dried with layers of paper towels
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 container Tofutti brand cream cheese
  • 21/2 tablespoons instant espresso or coffee powder, dissolved in 2/3 cup hot water
  • 1/4 cup brandy, rum or bourbon
  • 8 ounce best quality semi-sweet chocolate, chopped


Preheat the oven to 375 ºF.

Slice the cake in half-inch thick pieces and toast in the oven for about 15 minutes, turning the slices over once, until medium-brown on all sides. Let cool. In a food processor, process the tofu with the oil and sugar until perfectly smooth. Add the cream cheese, and process for a few more seconds. Pour the mixture into a bowl. Combine the coffee mixture and brandy in a container equipped with a spout, such as a glass measuring cup.

Grease a 2-quart (8 cup) loaf pan and line with plastic wrap, letting the sides overhang. Line the bottom completely with slices of cake, trimmed to fit tightly. Pour half of the coffee mixture evenly and carefully over the cake. Spread half of the tofu mixture evenly over the cake. Sprinkle half of the grated chocolate over the tofu mixture. Repeat: cake, coffee, tofu mixture, chocolate. Fold the overhanging plastic wrap toward the center of the mold.

Refrigerate a few hours until set. Unmold and slice.


About Levana Kirschenbaum


Lévana Kirschenbaum was co-owner of Levana Restaurant on Manhattan’s Upper West Side (alas, recently closed after thirty two years), and the pioneer in Kosher upscale dining. She is a cooking teacher and cookbook author, and gets countless devoted fans for her fearless, practical and nutritious approach to cooking. She gives weekly cooking demos, and gets cooking demo engagements around the country. She has published "Levana's Table: Kosher Cooking for Everyone", "Levana Cooks Dairy-Free!”, and a book-dvd set based on her demo series called "In Short Order”. She has just published her latest cookbook: “The Whole Foods Kosher Kitchen: Glorious Meals Pure and Simple”. She is launching a line of all-natural spelt desserts, called, what else, Lévana. Her weekly cooking demos take place at her apartment on Manhattan’s Upper West Side: Get ready for dinner and a show! Go onto her website to find out more about her demos, cookbooks, desserts, and entertaining stories at www.levanacooks.com

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