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How to Make Coconut Milk and Flour [And how NOT to make coconut flour cupcakes. A culinary disaster, in pictures]

Posted Feb 05 2013 1:29am

 [UPDATE: I got Cassie's gluten-free sugar-free chocolate cupcake recipe and I've added it at the end of this post. Just don't ask me to cook them for you! You're welcome!]

There was a big shindig Sunday night. The Superbowl? You might have heard of it. Don’t ask me who was playing because I still can’t tell you despite being in the same room as a TV for 90% of the game. I was just excited because we got invited to a friend’s house for a party and the invite specifically said “Bring a HEALTHY treat to share!” Finally! Permission to break out all my weird food! Of course this called for something really great. So did I use one of my tried-and-true secret-weapon recipes like my roasted red pepper hummus or sugar-free meringue cookies?  Of course not! I did exactly what you’re not supposed to do and went with a random, untried recipe off the Internet for which the only comments were from people who had never tried it (a fact I didn’t discover until halfway through my disaster). But I’m getting ahead of myself.

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It all started here: With a desire to make my own coconut milk and flour. Since discovering I’m severely lactose intolerant I’ve tried all the milk substitutes. The only ones I remotely enjoy are almond milk and coconut milk and after reading up on them I decided coconut milk has a better nutritional profile. (Note: this is not the same as coconut water, the stuff in the middle of the coconut that makes an excellent sports drink replacement, nor is it the same as the stuff in a can in the Thai food section that you always think you should buy something from but never do.) Unfortunately coconut milk is expensive. And the Internet is free!

Making your own coconut milk is shockingly easy. Put 2 cups of unsweetened, shredded coconut flakes in a blender and pour 8 cups of boiling water over the top. Let it sit for five minutes. Blend it until it’s all creamy and smooth. Then line a colander with a clean dishtowel or cheesecloth and pour it in:

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Squeeze out all the liquid into a bowl and then pour into Mason jars and refrigerate! (I got about a quart and a half, or 6 cups, of milk.) Ta-da! Look ma! I milked a coconut with my bare hands!

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You’re left with an interesting by-product, however. All the smooshy stuff left in the towel is coconut pulp. And if you spread it on a cookie sheet, bake it for 30-40 minutes at 180 degrees then you end up with coconut flour (also super pricey at the store!). (I got about 2.5 cups of flour.) It’s like your very own BOGO! So far it’s all unicorns in (rainbow) unitards but this is where things went very, very, wrong.

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Since I had all this magical coconut flour I decided to make grain-free, gluten-free, sugar-free, dairy-free cupcakes! They would obviously be the raddest thing at the party because who wouldn’t be able to eat those magical nothings? I googled the above phrase and found a recipe. (Which I’m not even going to bother linking to because it was so, so awful.) After following the directions exactly I ended up with this “batter”. You can’t really tell from this pic (other than by my best worried face) but it’s the consistency of water. That usually does not bode well for baked goods! But, ever the optimist, I forged ahead and filled up a bunch of mini cupcake tins.

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After popping them in a 350-degree oven, I went looking to see what happened to all my helpers. First I found Jelly Bean, the Nap Resistor, passed out on the couch. I love how little kids can sleep in the craziest positions!!

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The rest of the kids ended up here with dad. I would like to point out for the record that this is my husband’s desk. My workspace is pristine (for all you know).

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Then the timer dinged and I excitedly pulled out my cupcakes. They looked like soup. So I stuck them back in. I could actually see them boiling through the glass door. 60 minutes of cooking later, I finally pulled them out:

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Okay! So! I got… little tiny bundt cakes! Even cuter! But when I coaxed one out of the pan it looked like this:

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It’s a Mullet Muffin! Party in the front and…  hangover in the back! They basically were little soggy quiche-cakes (thanks to the 6!!! eggs) with coconut effluvia. But then things got worse: my friend texted me to find out why we weren’t at the party yet. It turns out she’d told us the wrong time and we were an hour and a half late. I hate being late like I hate back hair. But don’t worry, I told my husband through a clenched smile, I can still save these! They may look gross but that’s nothing a little cream cheese sugar-free frosting can’t fix!

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I put the cupcakes in time out, outside in the -13 degree weather, and told them very seriously to think about what they’d done. When you can play nice, you can come back in. (In case you’re curious, this is what post-partum belly buttons look like. You’re welcome!)

While they were cooling off, I went to whip up a batch of my famous frosting. But, because the universe hates me (or because I shouldn’t be feteing a secular event on the Sabbath), it curdled:

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CURDLED. Who doesn’t love frosting you can chew? It tasted as horrible as it looks:

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Bereft of healthy snacks and now super late, I finally did what I should have done four hours earlier and pulled the bag of frozen ginger snap cookie dough balls out of the freezer.

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Frozen cookies take an inordinately long amount of time to cook so I passed the time by violently stabbing to death the cupcakes.

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Stick anything on a rainbow plate and it automatically looks awesome – even turd cookies.

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We finally made it to the party and got caught up on all the commercials we’d missed (probably the only time in the history of DVR that it’s been used to skip the show and watch the ads). This happened:

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Don’t worry. It’s root.

But then I wandered over to the dessert table only to discover these beautiful creations:

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“What are they?” I asked my hostess friend Cassie. “Oh I just whipped up some grain-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free cupcakes. You know, in case anyone wanted a little something besides fruit for dessert.” My son walked up and popped one in his mouth. “These taste just like Ho-Hos! These are amazing!!” he yelled. “How did you make these?!” I just walked away and found a corner to bang my head against and weep silently into my coconut-flour stained sweatshirt.

But hey, at least the… Whoevers won!  In the end, we all had a great time and there was plenty of delish food even with our meager contribution. Truly the best part of the whole night – besides my friend Anna’s pretzel rolls – was getting our Just Dance 4 on during half time and Rick Rolling the heck out of our kids.

And as soon as I got home, I did this:

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I don’t want to brag or anything but this is probably my best culinary disaster to date! And I’m kind of known for sucking it up in the kitchen! 

So – who wants to make me feel better? What’s your worst cooking disaster story? (Surely you have one? If you don’t, just pretend. For my sake.) Anyone have a decent “healthy” cupcake recipe for me? Anyone else going to try making their own coconut milk or flour? (That part was fool-proof!)    

Cassie’s Chocolate Gluten-Free Cupcake Recipe

1 3/4 c oats
3 egg whites
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt (or regular plain low fat yogurt)
1/2 tsp cream of tartar (or 1-1/2 Tbsp. vinegar)
1-1/2 tsp. baking powder
1-1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup hot water
1/4 C. Agave + 2 Tbls Xylitol (if you don’t have xylitol just use the agave)
1/2 cup Dark chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 (12-cup) muffin pans with foil cupcake liners, or spray muffin tin with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside.
In a blender, (or food processor), mix all of the ingredients together, except for the chocolate chips. Blend until oats are ground and mixture is smooth.
Place mixture in a bowl and gently stir in 1/2 of the chocolate chips (set the rest aside). Scoop mixture into prepared muffin pans.
Place muffins tins in the oven for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, remove muffins from the oven (but don’t shut oven off), and distribute the other half of the chocolate chips on top of each muffin.
Place the muffins back into the oven and bake for an additional 2-5 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Cool muffins before removing from pan. ENJOY!!!

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