Cooking with Coconut Flour and Coconut Sugar

Coconut flour is fiber from the coconut meat after most of the oil has been extracted to make coconut oil. The coconut meat is dried and as much of the fat as possible is removed. Then, the remaining material is ground into a powder. The consistency is very close to wheat pastry flour, but it is higher in fiber and protein than wheat flour.

Some people say they can taste the 'coconut' in the flour, and some people say they cannot detect any particular flavor. You'll have to try it for yourself and make your own decision!

For the bakers among the readership, coconut flour is a bit lighter than almond flour and other nut flours. Since it is gluten-free, we don't get as much 'rise' out of it as wheat flour. However, with a bit of trial and error, coconut flour does work well for cakes, muffins, biscuits, breads, and cookies.

Depending on the recipe, coconut flour may be substituted for 10-30 percent of the required wheat flour. For recipes that don't require light and fluffy end products, such as muffins, carrot cake, zucchini bread, or cornbread, coconut flour can oftentimes substitute for 100 percent of the required wheat flour.

Coconut sugar is known by many names: jaggery, palm sugar, and Java sugar, to name a few. If you have shopped in Southeastern Asian, Indian, or Central American markets, you may have seen coconut sugar in one of its many forms. It can be found shaped into a large brown cone, pressed into cakes (with or without designs), or simply packaged in bags.

Coconut sugar is unrefined and gold to deep brown in color, resembling brown sugar in appearance. It is not made from coconut juice, milk, or meat. Instead, it is prepared from the sap of palm trees, with sugar cane juice sometimes added. The sap is boiled and concentrated until it reaches a granulated form.

For those who have not experienced coconut sugar, think about the flavor you would get if you mixed a cup of brown sugar with several teaspoons of molasses. Actually, that is the 'formula' to use when coconut or palm sugar is not available.

Coconut sugar can replace brown sugar in most recipes, and it can be used in any recipe where a fullflavored and colored sugar would be appropriate. For example, it works well in barbecue sauces, in hot cereals and steamed grains, for lots of baked goods, sprinkled over sliced fruit, mixed into soy yogurt or sour cream, and stirred into hot cocoa.

Coconut sugar can be purchased in vegan, organic forms. It should crumble easily; that's the sign of proper storage. If placed in an air-tight container, coconut sugar can last for years.

Although sugar should not be used as a 'healthful' food, such as fruits, vegetables, or whole grains, coconut sugar is said to contain small amounts of calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, riboflavin, sulfur, and thiamin, as well as trace amounts of protein.

Sources for Coconut Flour

Sources for Coconut Sugar


(Makes approximately 12 muffins)

  • 1 cup coconut flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup silken tofu
  • 2 Tablespoons melted nonhydrogenated vegan margarine
  • 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 Tablespoons soymilk
  • 3 Tablespoons maple syrup
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups mashed ripe bananas
  • Vegetable oil spray

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, mix the coconut flour and baking powder together. Set aside.

In a second bowl, combine the remaining ingredients, except for the bananas and vegetable oil spray. Mix just enough to combine. Add the coconut flour mix and mashed bananas, and blend well.

Spray 12 muffin cups with vegetable oil. Fill each cup with the batter until it is three-quarters full. Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow to cool on a wire rack.

Total calories per muffin: 135 Fat: 6 grams
Carbohydrates: 18 grams Protein: 3 grams
Sodium: 97 milligrams Fiber: 4 grams


(Makes approximately six 3-inch corncakes)

Garnishes such as chopped fresh cilantro or parsley, salsa, hot sauce, or chopped fresh tomatoes and sliced fresh chilies can enhance this recipe.

  • 1 cup fresh corn or thawed frozen corn
  • 4 Tablespoons chopped scallions
  • ¼ cup silken tofu, mashed
  • 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
  • ¼ cup coconut flour
  • ¼ cup fine white or yellow cornmeal
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons minced fresh red pepper (optional)
  • Vegetable oil spray

Purée corn and scallions in a blender or food processor. Pour into a large bowl. Add in the remaining ingredients, except for the vegetable oil spray, and combine until well-mixed.

Heat a large skillet or griddle and spray with oil. Ladle mixture (approximately 3 Tablespoons at a time) onto the heated surface. Even out so the cake cooks uniformly. Allow to cook until golden brown on one side and turn. When both sides are golden brown, serve hot with the garnish of your choice.

Total calories per corncake: 115 Fat: 6 grams
Carbohydrates: 13 grams Protein: 3 grams
Sodium: 16 milligrams Fiber: 3 grams


(Makes six to eight 3-inch pancakes)

  • ½ cup silken tofu
  • 1 teaspoon coconut sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons melted nonhydrogenated vegan margarine
  • 2 Tablespoons coconut milk or soymilk
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 Tablespoons coconut flour
  • Vegetable oil spray

In a bowl, mix together the tofu, sugar, margarine, and milk. Set aside.

In another large bowl, mix together the baking powder, salt, and coconut flour. Whisk in the tofu mixture until smooth.

Heat a skillet or griddle and spray with oil. Pour batter onto the heated surface for an approximately 3-inch diameter. Allow to cook until golden brown on one side and turn. When both sides are golden brown, remove from pan and serve hot with maple syrup, fruit preserves, or applesauce.

Total calories per pancake: 67 Fat: 6 grams
Carbohydrates: 3 grams Protein: 1 gram
Sodium: 103 milligrams Fiber: 2 grams


(Makes approximately 24 cookies)

  • 1 cup silken tofu
  • 1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 5 Tablespoons coconut sugar
  • ¼ cup peanut, cashew, hazelnut, sunflower, or soy butter
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup sifted coconut flour
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 cups shredded dry coconut
  • Vegetable oil spray

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a bowl, mix together the tofu and oil. Stir in the coconut sugar, nut butter, salt, and vanilla and beat until smooth.

In another bowl, mix together the flour and baking powder. Add to the nut mixture and beat until smooth. Mix in the coconut.

Spray oil onto a cookie sheet. Drop the batter by Tablespoons, approximately 2 inches apart, onto the cookie sheet. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and allow cookies to cool on a wire rack.

Total calories per cookie: 91 Fat: 5 grams
Carbohydrates: 10 grams Protein: 2 grams
Sodium: 70 milligrams Fiber: 5 grams


(Makes approximately 12-14 squares)

  • Vegetable oil spray
  • 1 cup vegan cream cheese
  • ½ cup nonhydrogenated vegan margarine
  • 1 cup coconut flour
  • ½ cup coconut sugar
  • ½ cup silken tofu
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
  • ½ cup carob chips or crushed pistachios (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Spray an 11 x 7-inch baking pan with oil. Set aside.

Beat cream cheese and margarine together until fluffy. This can be done by hand, but it is easier with an electric mixer. When fluffy, very slowly beat in the flour and the sugar and then the tofu. When sugar and tofu are incorporated, mix in vanilla and oil until well-mixed. If desired, carob chips or nuts may be quickly added in.

Pour the batter into the pan and bake for 25 minutes or until batter is set. Allow to cool on a wire rack. Slice into squares.

Total calories per square: 217 Fat: 13 grams
Carbohydrates: 22 grams Protein: 2 grams
Sodium: 211 milligrams Fiber: 13 grams


(Serves 9)

  • ½ cup melted nonhydrogenated vegan margarine
  • ½ cup coconut milk
  • 2 cups silken tofu
  • ¾ cup coconut sugar
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup sifted coconut flour
  • ¾ teaspoon baking powder
  • Vegetable oil spray

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a bowl, mix the margarine, coconut milk, tofu, sugar, salt, and vanilla. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, combine the coconut flour with the baking powder. Combine the two mixtures and whisk until well-incorporated.

Spray an 8 x 8 x 2-inch baking pan with oil. Pour batter into the pan and bake for approximately 30 minutes or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow to cool prior to serving.


  • To prepare a fast frosting, combine softened vegan margarine with coconut sugar and mix until smooth. Add shredded dried coconut and combine. Frost cake when it is cool.
  • For a chocolate cake, add ¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder and another ½ cup sugar into the coconut flour-baking powder mixture.
Total calories per serving: 255 Fat: 15 grams
Carbohydrates: 27 grams Protein: 4 grams
Sodium: 363 milligrams Fiber: 23 grams