I have always considered myself quite a nice person. I like food of all shapes, flavours and colours. From every country and continent. I don’t discriminate, I am an equal opportunity eater. It’s only the doctors who say I’m intolerant. And certain foods who refuse to tolerate me. They certainly refuse to recognise and respect my right to eat them without major physical discomfort and distress.

Gluten and lactose are not my friends.

Despite the negative attitudes surrounding me from many of those I love best, (cakes, ice cream, hot toast) I decided to become a chef. Not always easy when you live in a bread and milk filled world. I like to think that this has helped me become a better person as I embrace my differences and refuse to let the gluten get me down. I believe InTolerance. I am the InTolerant Chef.

Food should not be about what you can’t eat, but what you can and what you enjoy eating. This blog is about my journey of cooking and eating and discovery. It’s not a definitive guide to allergy awareness nor do my intolerances make me an expert. Your body is your responsibility, not mine. I only know what works for me.

I can tell you this..... No glutens were harmed in the making of this website.

May 16, 2011

Coconut Flour Cupcakes with Coconut Vegan Frosting

Everyone loves a cupcake!

And these are something a little bit different......

There are absolutely fantastic blogs out there that cater for us InTolerants with amazing recipes using weird and wonderful non-gluten flours with a mixture of starches and flours and protein content - but they are really hard to find and some aren't even available in Australia.

Now these recipes are perfectly suited to the gluten-free lifestyle and produce perfect results every time, but not everyone has them on hand when they Google 'Ginger Kisses- gluten free' or they have an InTolerant friend popping around for dinner. I follow heaps of these blogs myself, and as you gain confidence in InTolerant cooking I would encourage you to as well, but I wanted a blog that people would feel comfortable with all the time, regardless of experience, and one my Cheffy friends could turn to in a hurry and be able to throw together a treat for a special diet that turns up at dinner service without notice. So, I decided to use "mainstream" ingredients that were readily available to most people.

That's why I use generic mix gluten free flours, and lactose free products that you can usually grab at Coles or Woolies on your way home from work. Easy-peasy.

I'm happy to include a new ingredient now and then if it's gaining ground in the 'normal' forums- like cooking magazines and shows, and all over the blogisphere, but mainly to de-mystify it for you and show an example of using it in 'ordinary' cooking.

So today I'm doing a recipe with AGAVE nectar and COCONUT FLOUR.

I recently bought a nifty little cookbook, "Gluten-free Cupcakes by Elana Amsterdam. 50 irresistible recipes made with almond and coconut flour". I thought it looked pretty good and had heard nice things around the blogisphere so wanted to have a look for myself. I hadn't realised that agave was the sweetener of choice, but as that is readily available too; I decided to blog my experiences with the recipe.

I decided that basic vanilla is always going to set the benchmark for a good cupcake. Quite a few of the recipes are fairly similar with variations on a theme, not that that's a bad thing, there is enough variety to keep your sweet tooth happy and healthy at the same time! And a great selection of yummy sounding frostings as well. I consider this to be a good cookbook investment and I'm glad I got it, but now I need to find a source of almond flour! Congratulations to Elana on such a great book.

Vanilla Cupcakes

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons coconut flour
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
4 large eggs
1/3 cup grape seed oil
1/2 cup agave nectar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 180*. Line 9 muffin cups with paper liners

In a large bowl, combine the coconut flour, salt, and baking soda. In a medium bowl whisk together the eggs, oil, agave nectar and vanilla extract. Blend the wet ingredients into the coconut flour mixture with a handheld mixer until thoroughly combined.

Scoop 1/4 cup of batter into each prepared muffin cup.

Bake for 18-22 mins until a toothpick inserted into the centre of a cupcake comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached. Let the cupcakes cool in the pan for an hour, then frost and serve.

So.... what did I think?

Well, the mix is quite thick- but coconut flour does that you know, but maybe a touch too thick? I think I would add just a tablespoon of water. Our Australian measurements are slightly different, and perhaps the flour moisture content varies too.

I was slack and used a whisk to mix the 2 mixes together, as there is a warning in the front of the book about over mixing. It warns that over mixing will result in cupcakes that not only look odd, but also taste rubbery. Next time I will use the mixer and just give it a bit more of a go. The texture is quite moist and dense, but the flavour is just lovely. I only baked these for the 18mins and they were still a bit sticky, but the extra 2 mins I gave them resulted in the slightly burnt top.

Now, just as you should never be seen in public properly adorned, neither should a cupcake. A cupcake is a dainty, pretty little thing and should be given its due in divine frosting. There are some great sounding recipes in the book for various frostings and I decided to keep with the coconut theme and chose the Vegan Coconut Frosting.

Vegan Coconut Frosting
Makes 2 cups

1/2 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup agave nectar
1 tablespoon arrowroot powder
1 tablespoon water
1 cup coconut oil, melted over very low heat
(I used Copha solid coconut oil as it can be found at all Woolies and Coles)

In a medium saucepan, bring the coconut milk and agave nectar to a boil over medium heat. Whisk the ingredients together, then decrease the heat and simmer for 2-3 mins to reduce just slightly, stirring frequently.

In a small bowl, dissolve the arrowroot powder in water, stirring to make a slurry. Increase the heat under the saucepan to med-high so the mixture is bubbling. Add the arrowroot slurry to the coconut mixture, whisking constantly until the mixture thickens and turns opaque and shiny, about 1 minute. Once the mixture becomes shiny, remove the pan from the heat and gradually blend in the coconut oil with a handheld mixture until well combined.

Allow to cool on the counter for 15 minutes. The mixture will not look like frosting yet- don’t worry; this is OK.Chill the frosting in the refrigerator for 1-1 ½ hours, until the frosting fully solidifies and looks opaque white in colour. Remove from the refrigerator and whip with a handheld mixer until thick and fluffy. The frosting will be sticky looking and lumps will dissolve during whipping.

This is the finished product

Quite nice and definitely coconutty, but not as cloyingly sweet as one made with regular icing sugar. I quite like the effects of the agave nectar that way, but it just isn't as easy to get hold of.

I took these little babies to work this week and they were gobbled down. The best comment was 'You'd never guess these had nothing in them, would you?' Sigh... at least I slooowly educating my fellow chefs and the more they enjoy InTolerant cooking, the more understanding they will be when they have to cook for us.

Changing the world, one gluten at a time.

So Readers, have you ever tried agave or coconut flours?
PS. I'm sorry for the posting issues this last week, but due to a snafu at Blogger all my recent stuff was lost. Sorry for any inconvenience lovelies!


  1. Haha, I love how your cat is licking the frosting from the whisk! :D

    I've heard many people had problems with Blogger recently, and I also had problems to comment on Blogger blogs. I hope this will get better now!

    Your cupcakes look so lovely, like a meadow covered with spring flowers! :) I've never used coconut flour so far, and I still wonder whether coconut or almond flour is just the same as the ground nuts, or something especially treated. Can you tell me?

    (Oh, and I still hope for the package to arrive every day! I'm thinking about it constantly!)

  2. They look wonderful! I have cooked with agave but not coconut flour although my MIL is obsessed with coconut oil in everything! :)

  3. Yum! good on you for choosing mainstream products. I love the sound of the more exotic ones, but it's no good if we can't even find them. It seems that Australia needs to catch up in this regard!
    Heidi xo

  4. How funny! I just saw this coconut flour at the farmers market the other week and thought 'I'll buy that next time, sounds interesting'. Now I have a recipe - thanks very much! :)

  5. Ok I am weird. Am not a fan of cupcake!

  6. Awesome, they do look so good. And your puddy cat is a picture too :) Thank goodness blogger is coming back to life, its been hard to comment with it all weird 'n wiry lately, glad it's behaving itself.
    Haven't cooked with coconut flour either, but it sounds good stuff, agave.. yep, been there done that :)
    Have a great week Bec :)

  7. have tried to comment a few times and it didn't save- hopefully this one does. My boss has been told she has to go gluten free so have referred her to your site. Also- cakes look super cute. P.S I know- blogger boooooooo to you blogger!

  8. These look amazing! I particularly like the border around the edge of the icing, nice touch!
    I think you saw my failure with the coconut flour, but I've learned since then. I have yet to try agave, but I've been experimenting with apple juice concentrate!

  9. Wow, your cupcakes with coconut flour look fabulous, so cute and nicely decorated. Like the idea of gluten free and agave...hope you are having a wonderful week :-)

  10. You did a fabulous job on Elana's vanilla cupcakes! They look so pretty. :-) I've been enjoying her cupcake recipes myself so I know you speak the truth on how good they are. ;-)


  11. I have been meaning to try coconut flour. It would add a lovely coconut flavour I am sure> Mmm...cupcakes!

  12. Never cooked with agave but your cupcakes look nice! Pussycat is enjoying too :):)

  13. Becca, you made me laugh, my latest post opens with "I don't like cupcakes". :) However, your gorgeous photo made me exclaim, "how sweet!". I love the look of all the sparkly girly balls. Pretty cool that they're gf too! :)

  14. Well, what a nusiance Blogger has been lately,I never did recover my work, and I'm sorry for everyone whose comments pinged back or just disappeared into the ether. Let's hope all's well from now on! Thanks for bearing with me, and stayed tuned for some Celebration Giveaways shortly!

    Kath- my kitty doubles as official taste tester for my home cooking. She is particularly likes tomato soup! What a lovely compliament for my cupcakes, how sweet! Coconut flour is as finely ground as regular flour. Nut flour is too, nut meal is very different and quite a gritty and more moist product. And the parcels are wonderful, thanks again for your fantastic help my friend!

    Lisa- Good for the blood sugars and full of good fats too!

    Lorraine- So is my mum! Give coconut flour a try, just use more liquid as it soaks it up terribly.

    Heidi- We are a bit slow with ingredients sometimes. I'm desparate to get my hands on Peanut Flour to try next, but have only seen it in the States.

    Christie- Now you just have to try it!

    Tigerfish- They are a bit of bling for style not substance! PS I mention you and you cookbook in my next post!

    Anna- This is the cats officialy santioned observation post. It's on top of the raised section of the breakfast bar. She knows that's the ONLY place she can sit. It's amazing how far she can stretch her neck- and so her mouth- though!

    GatronomyGal- I hope your boss finds it helpful, earn some brownie points and make her these cupcakes! Hopefully Blogger has it all sorted and it doesn't happen again!

    JasmyneTea- I know, each gfree flour is it's own unique animal isn't it? Apple juice concentrate is delicious, have you tried the Appelstroop syrup?

    Juliana- Thanks! I hope you do too!

    GFE- It was so nice for someone else to have done all the hard work of recipe development for me! And her recipes are fantastic!

    Spiceandmore- It's not as coconutty as eating dessicated or shredded coconut. Just nice and mellow really, don't know how that works though!

    Chopinandmysaucepan- Agave gives a wonderful softness to the finished product. White and castor sugar is quite sharp on the palate, brown a bit more mellow, but agave just has an amazing 'roundness' to it.

    Celia- I prefer friands anyday too! I find that anything labelled gluten free needs to look extra nice for 'normal' diners to be tempted into giving it a go!

    Thanks Lovely Readers, hope you have a great week, and don't forget the giveaways coming soon! XX

  15. Love this post; these are adorable cupcakes...and the coconut looks delish! I bet it adds the perfect hint of sweetness.
    Just came across your blog and so happy to have found your tasty gluten-free n' yummy recipes!

  16. Thanks heaps for this post. Only just bought some coconut flour to experiment with yesterday so these will be perfect to try out.

  17. I love that the cat likes to lick the beaters!
    I've not yet baked with coconut flour - I can only find it on the internet and it is VERY expensive. Agave nectar is available, but again, VERY expensive. Your cupcakes look so pretty though...