Carob Chocolate Chip Cupcakes (Grain-Free Low Sugar!)

by laury on July 26, 2012 · 55 comments

I have loved baking since I was about 12 years old. I took an interest in it as a means to try and find “healthier” ways to enjoy dessert. My view of “healthy” has evolved over the years. I went from making fat-free desserts, to low carb treats loaded with artificial stuff (not so healthy!) I then evolved to wanting to just not use refined sugars and flours, and more whole foods. Vegan baking was always fun. I looked at it as a challenge, to make things without any allergens or animal products that tasted just like the real thing. I still do. I love being able to develop and recommend recipes to accommodate any clients or friends healthy lifestyle!


My latest venture is in grain-free cooking. Making a recipe grain-free and vegan is a challenge because of how dense coconut flour is. You can use things like starch flours and garbanzo bean without eggs, depending on what it is. I have done it successfully in the past. Coconut flour..not so much. I used to just grind up coconut flakes, and once I made an egg-free mini protein cake that did work, but it’s most definitely better with the eggs.

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Good thing I am not vegan or allergic to eggs because I am currently in love with coconut flour. This flour is very dense, and dry, So you need to add a lot of eggs to make it successful. Many people mix it with other flours (such as starch flours) because it’s really tough to get a good consistency. I have tried many coconut flour recipes over the past couple of months and with the exception of a couple of them, most have been disappointing. Too dry and dense. But if you can make it work—it’s a great substitute!

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Coconut flour is low in carbs and has double the amount of fiber as wheat-bran! It also has more protein than other leading flours you would use. Swapping out coconut flour for other flours will reduce occurrences of inflammation in your body that other flours may cause. Many people love using almond meal, or other nut flours…but I am not a fan. I will get to why in a second. First…here’s the birthday cupcakes I made myself (thanks for the well wishes!) I am super proud of myself with the recipe. It is the most moist, scrumptious, satisfying coconut flour cake recipe I have ever had! Not to toot my own horn or anything. But. Go me!

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Is it weird I made my own birthday cake? Regardless…this took a couple trials, but the end result was a moist, rich, chocolaty cupcake—without all of the guilt! Enjoy!



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I may or may not have enjoyed two of these for lunch today.

Which will bring me to my next topic of interest. Almond meal. I notice that a lot of people have been using it, and I even considered experimenting with it.

Almond meal/ nut flours are supposed to much easier to work with (than coconut flour). I use ground nuts a lot in raw vegan pie crusts, but don’t bake with almond meal. And I am glad I haven’t! I found out some disheartening information about how healthy it really is!


Why Baking with Almond Flour is BAD BAD BAD!

Okay, so I have seen a lot of bloggers swap out flour for nut flours. I never thought much of it, except, how high calorie they must be. I’m not one for calorie counting, but take a already high calorie substance, where you should only have a handful or two per day (or Tablespoons in nut butters), and grind it down really fine, consuming a high amount of it, it can’t be that great, right?

I have always purchased raw almond butter because it’s much healthier, and the omega-6 fatty acids stay in tact and do not become rancid when heated. So why have I never put 2 and 2 together?

What did I find out:

When you grind polyunsaturated-loaded  nut flour down, the surface that protects the nut from oxidizing becomes exposed (the surface & the vitamin E). The whole process puts the almond meal at a greater risk of becoming rancid, and turning into an anti-nutrient! The fat in nuts oxidize faster when they are ground up!

When we cook with almond meal, the then vulnerable, exposed nut meal’s PUFA stops being healthy and starts wreaking havoc on your body! Heating Omega-6 fatty acids is never a good thing! Think…free radicles! (who’s damage takes a toll on everything from cell membranes, to DNA/RNA strands, to blood vessels (which can then lead to plaque accumulation). The harm adds up over time in the organs and systems of the body and can cause significant impact, including premature aging and skin disease, liver damage, immune dysfunction, and even cancer.) There’s also the issue of too much phytic acid to consider. Phytic acid can block nutrient absorption in the intestines!

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Nuts are meant to be a mini snack, not a meal. And when you consume nut flours in large amounts, you are eating more than us as humans are meant to eat!

You’re much better off with coconut flour (which is cheaper because of the volume needed), or, even though some may argue this– potato starch, arrowroot or tapioca starch. Heck, if you don’t have allergies, you would be better off with whole wheat flour or oat flour (they have gluten-free!) than cooking/baking with pretty much any nut flour!

Overall, desserts and treats are meant to be used in moderation. Every once in a while if you have something with nut flour/meal, it’s not going to kill you. Sometimes, it’s just the lesser of the two evils (vs. white flour and white sugar). However, I just wouldn’t use is as a dietary staple in all of your “treats” or baked goods!

Well…now that I rocked your world….let me know if you try the cupcakes. Let it be my peace offering.


Have you experimented with grain-free or gluten-free baking? What are your favorite flours to work with?

Homework: PLEASE try my cupcakes and let me know how they came out! I am really proud of this one! No subs!

Have a great weekend! What fun things do you have planned? Aside from making my cupcakes?

We have my birthday dinner planned for Friday night at my favorite restaurant! I’m so excited!

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{ 47 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Yaara Leve July 27, 2012 at 12:30 am

Those look amazing girl! And no–it’s not weird at all to make your own B-day cake–I’d do the same. I’m interested to start trying coconut flour. Does it really fill you up? It’s just really caloric–60 calories for 2 tbls. and kind of carby. I’d rather use those calories for protein which fill me up more. But I’d be willing to try the coconut flour. Does it really satiate?
Also–would the recipe work if I use eggwhites instead of eggs; and omit the coconut oil and avocado? Thanks!


2 laury July 27, 2012 at 8:31 am

Hey, Yaara!

First off…”carby and high calorie”?????? I bake with this for the opposite reason. It’s actually very low carb and for the volume you use it, the calories are actually low. This entire recipe uses 1/4 cup. Its so dense and filling! And SO high in fiber!!!

Next…you want to go and totally mutilate my recipe, huh 😉 Stop fearing the fats, girl! They are SOP good for you! I am not a fan of calories in calories out. I believe whole-heartily in eating the right food. In particular FAT! I eat lots of it and it has changed my life. I no longer crave the sweet stuff, and I feel amazing, and have so much energy. Fat does not make you fat.

This recipe would completely change if you didn’t use the avo/oil and subbed for whites. It would not be as delicious and moist and satisfying. You would also have to use much more sugar. The thing with “fat free” treats is they always need to up the sugar or fake chemical stuff! HOPE THIS HELPS 🙂


3 AlexandraFunFit July 27, 2012 at 12:36 am

Those pictures look so lovely, but I hate the taste of coconut. You obviously have a great talent for baking. And congrats on your birthday. I think summer birthdays are the best. And I love almonds, but do not bake with almond flour. But ground up in coffee cake? Oh, yes.


4 Lisa July 27, 2012 at 4:46 am

I’m SO glad you posted this. First, because I want a cupcake at 4:44 in the morning now…. and second, because I started to get sucked into the almond meal thing a while back until I found this info out. Then I stuck with coconut flour (which is great once I got the hang of the moisture ratio thing).

Thanks so much for posting this. I will definitely try the recipe too—I did not have a bday cake this year, so I should probably make this for myself (but I think I might have Matthew help me–he’s convinced after a healthy donut disaster that everything I make is terrible)–I need to redeem myself!

Happy Birth Week to US!!!


5 laury July 27, 2012 at 8:33 am

Hahah you crack me up. 4:44 in the AM. Geez!

You HAVE to try this! I am so proud of this one! It came out so good!!! Please let me know if you do! I hope you like it!

Happy birth week to us!! Wish we could celebrate together!!!


6 Angela @ Happy Fit Mama July 27, 2012 at 4:57 am

I’ve used almond flour before and I’m glad you posted this. I knew the whole heat and Omega 6s thing but I didn’t put it all together. Thank you!

And, holy YUMMY cupcakes! Will be making!


7 Katie @wishandwhimsy July 27, 2012 at 7:14 am

I LOVE that you made your own cupcakes. It’s your birthday, you have it the way you want it. And if you enjoy baking so much, even better! Those look divine!


8 Kierston July 27, 2012 at 7:50 am

These look delish! I’m totally intrigued by Coconut Flour! I’ll will add this to the list of recipes I need to try! Thanks!


9 Lindsay @ The Lean Green Bean July 27, 2012 at 8:15 am

never knew coconut flour had so much fiber!


10 Maria@healthydiaries July 27, 2012 at 8:19 am

Those cupcakes look perfect, I can’t wait to give them a try soon! Lisa and I bake our own cakes almost every year so it’s totally normal 😉

Can I just say thank you for informing me about the almond flour. I had a feeling almond flour didn’t sit well with me when I ate it, but now I know why. I try to always use coconut flour, but sometimes it just easier to use almond flour. I can now say that I won’t be using it anymore, thanks for enlightening me Laury!


11 Lisa@Healthy Diaries July 27, 2012 at 9:15 am

Ditto to what Maria said. I had NO idea about the dangers os nut flours Laury. I feel like such an idiot, but am glad that you put this info out there. I’m definitely going to stick with coconut flour now!

Can’t wait to try your recipe!!


12 laury July 27, 2012 at 3:16 pm

Hey girls! Don’t feel dumb! How would you have known? It’s ALL over the blog world. I knew something was off about it..and didn’t like the idea of concentration nuts down that fine to use as flour. Then the whole Omega-6 thing so I looked into it. I was almost sucked into it, about to experiment! Now you know!
Yes it totally causes GI distress. SO many people complain of it!


13 nicole July 27, 2012 at 8:43 am

Thanks for the info on almond flour. I had no idea. I don’t use it in baked good anyways, bc of the high calorie content. I need to get some coconut flour now!


14 thehealthyapron July 27, 2012 at 9:10 am

Interesting Laury! I have been reading about the use of almond meal a lot lately too and have been wondering about it. Thanks for the info!

I will definitely try these cupcakes! I have been meaning to try this coconut flour that you rave of. I’m heading to TJ’s and WF this morning so I will be sure to pick some up. My only sub would be using organic whole milk vs almond milk. It’s a long story but it was the compromise the hubs and I came to…I don’t drink milk in general that much and he didn’t like almond milk (wasting most of it), so I said organic and consume only in your cereal or nada. SO organic milk it was!


15 laury July 27, 2012 at 3:17 pm

You have to do what works! I have a lot of clients not willing to go dairy-free with the milk. They are skim addicts. I try convincing on whole milk, and say if you’re going to drink it, you have to drink whole for nutrients, makes you crave less sugar, etc. We compromise with 2% for now.

Make these and freeze them for when baby will have a good snack!


16 Katie July 27, 2012 at 9:38 am

I have been using coconut flour in some more recipes lately and noticed that mine had a very different taste. Do you think that is due to the coconut flour being older (like 6 months) or does coconut flour have a different taste??


17 laury July 27, 2012 at 3:19 pm

Hmm..well, it DOES taste different than most flours, yes. You have to get past that. I think many people mix it with rice flour, tapioca starch, etc, to make it less dense, and take away that taste. That;s why I went heavy on the chocolate! It really masks it!

As far as shelf life, I am not 100% sure of it. I think it’s all about how you store it, but I would think 6 months it wouldn’t be bad already?


18 Julie July 27, 2012 at 9:53 am

If you have extras, bring a cupcake to dinner tonight, I’ll try it!! xoxoxo


19 laury July 27, 2012 at 3:20 pm

I wish! I gave a few to my clients, then had the last one for lunch 😉

Next time you come in I will make them for you and Z! See you tonight!


20 Dana July 27, 2012 at 10:10 am

I am drooling at my screen!! please bake for me 🙂


21 laury July 27, 2012 at 3:20 pm

hahah…I will!


22 alisa July 27, 2012 at 10:26 am

I love carob Laury! these cupcakes look so brownie-like and awesome.

I actually don’t like to bake much with nut flour as it is really heavy on my gut. I never feel well after having those nut loaded goodies. I wonder if it has something to do with them being baked as I don’t have trouble with them when raw?


23 laury July 27, 2012 at 3:26 pm

Yes, Alisa! that was one of the things I was finding…it is really heavy on the gut. The whole phytic acid thing, blocks nutrient absorption and many people complain it gives them GI distress! Raw is definitely better –and soaked and/or sprouted is WAY easier on the gut too!

I know for me, I always buy raw almond butter but when I do eat the roasted it hurts my stomach. Weird!


24 Emily July 27, 2012 at 11:34 am

Thanks for the info about almond flour! I’ve been looking for grain-free alternatives since going gluten free and most of the recipes I see contain almond flour/meal.

I’ll certainly be trying these cupcakes soon!


25 laury July 27, 2012 at 3:21 pm

Let me know how it turns out!!

Almond and coconut are very different so if you see an almond meal recipe don’t try to just swap..I am saving you trouble there 😉 I found adding the fats and the liquid in the right amount will make it work! You just have to play!


26 Amanda @ Run Principessa July 27, 2012 at 12:10 pm

Woah! Never would have guessed that about almond flour. Thanks for the heads up! And I think you’re awesome for making your own birthday cake. I might try it come February. 🙂


27 Bethany@ The OC Fit Girl July 27, 2012 at 1:26 pm

These look so fluffy, moist, and perfect!


28 the delicate place July 27, 2012 at 2:20 pm

as soon as you said phytic acid and almond meal, i totally KNEW it was an MDA thing haha. i totally agree and i love that man (he was a biologist at one time you know 🙂

definitely prefer coconut flour when i bake. i also grind my own flaxseed if i want to make a gluten free ‘bread’ people really need to be informed about oxidation of foods and high omega-6 content…all these people are complaining about chick fil a right…like they need another reason to not eat their food?! i guess people like breaded chicken parts fried in omega-6 peanut oil?


29 laury July 27, 2012 at 3:11 pm

I love MDA! I am learning so much from him! Does he have a book that you know of? And the bio thing makes sense!

I agree re: Chick-FIl-A. The lady stands out giving samples talking about how healthy peanut oil is…!


30 the delicate place July 27, 2012 at 3:50 pm

besides the primal blueprint book, he has some cookbooks i believe but the PB is what got me into the way i eat now 🙂 i read it in 2009 just after injuring myself from chronic cardio and eating low fat/sugar free artificial everything. i credit him with changing my diet! the first blog i ever read was heather eats almond butter and she was a fan of him too!


31 laury July 28, 2012 at 8:02 pm

Thank you! I will look into them!

So, what do you think about using flax as flour? I have a cookbook with flax waffles, but then in my research about the nut flours, I read somewhere that the same thing can happen with flax? As a scientist, what do you think?


32 Purely Twins July 27, 2012 at 10:11 pm

thanks so much for sharing about this, as we normally have nuts in the raw form, but do have them from time to time in baked goods as we find coconut flour fiber to be too much for us. but maybe we should give a try some more. we have baked a few recipes with it, guess we need to revisit those. as you know we try hard to watch our omega 6 ratio for our skin.


33 laury July 28, 2012 at 8:01 pm

Yes, you girls should definitely watch! The skin issue is one thing, but heating omega-6 brings on even more problems! It’s so toxic! Some say that there are arguably many ways plain white AP flour would be better than nut flours! eek!


34 Chantal July 27, 2012 at 11:57 pm

OMG, that looks AMAZING!!! Definitely going on my to-do list, stat!


35 laury July 28, 2012 at 7:59 pm

It’s a MUST make! 🙂


36 Lisa July 28, 2012 at 3:47 pm

This looks incredible! Totally going to try it out.
I also had no clue about almond flour! Wow. Makes sense though.
Thanks for sharing that information!
I prefer coconut flour to almond flour anyways, so this made me happy;)
Loving all the healthy fats in this recipe!! I’ve been eating them so much more lately and my hair and skin are enjoying it


37 Sabrina July 31, 2012 at 10:42 pm

Hi! We chatted briefly in Facebook a few days ago!
So I tried the recipe and I didn’t have any luck!
My cupcakes look great from the outside but inside they are really spongy and eggy. I followed the recipe exactly but it seems like something is wrong.
It looked nothing like yours! 🙁
What kind of coconut flour do u use? I’m wondering if that makes a difference because I have tried about 4 other recipes from other sources and have not had any luck.


38 laury August 2, 2012 at 12:17 am

Hey Sabrina!

I thought i wrote back earlier but I guess it never went though?

I use Bob’s Red Mill coconut flour. So strange it didn’t turn out for you! How disappointing that it keeps happening with coconut flour recipes!.

I did test this out 4x and a friend of mine recently made it with no problems. She upped the maple syrup to 1/4 cup, but that is either here nor there in regards to your issue.

The only thing I can think of is was the batter really smooth when you poured it in? Maybe you needed to mix it longer? Then bake it longer? I will ask around with friends who use this a lot and see if they have tips. If you followed the recipe exact though I just can’t see why it didn’t work? Other than maybe you needed to mix longer or bake longer? Or possibly it could be the flour?


39 Kathleen @ KatsHealthCorner August 6, 2012 at 10:19 pm

I absolutely ADORE Carob powder and Coconut flour! I REALLY need to get more of them so I can make these!!!!! <3 Thank you SO much for an amazing recipe! 😀


40 sigrid October 10, 2012 at 11:32 am

If I want to use sugar instead of stevia how much should I use? Thanks


41 laury October 10, 2012 at 11:17 pm

I would use between 1/2-3/4 cup sugar depending on your sweet tooth


42 Nathalie February 5, 2013 at 12:59 pm

These cupcakes look and sound delicious, unfortunately I am allergic to avocado. Not sure what could be a replacement. I was so happy to find this recipe, I eat low carb and wheat free most of the time, and this recipe has it all.


43 laury February 6, 2013 at 11:41 pm

You could just add more coconut oil, or use apple sauce, coconut butter, more mashed banana, etc. Fats are better, but anything that adds to the moisture will work!


44 jill September 1, 2013 at 5:26 pm

Thank you for this, stumbled across it while searching for a carob cake recipe, have a severe hankering for chocolate cake, and we can’t eat chocolate for medical reasons, and I do bake with coconut flour, so have found some pretty good bread recipes online too. It’s just a textural thing, takes getting used to, but hub actually likes coconut flour bread rather than YUCK regular white bread. Plus leftovers are super versatile for bread pudding or whatever! Coconut flour has saved our butts as he is pre diabetic, and is actually lowering his sugar levels with diet, he cannot tolerate any meds for it. It is truly a miracle ingredient. Carob too, have been using it for many years, you can throw it in the blender with coconut milk and make super rich “chocolate” milk. Have also just found coconut palm sugar, it looks like raw sugar, but it actually is very, very low in sugars and carbs, like 4g per serving. It is a different sweet, no sickening sweet like honey or agave. It really tastes quite good! For those who don’t like the taste of coconut on its own, using it in recipes such as this, you won’t be able to pick up much of the flavor, maybe a very slight aftertaste, but you will forget all about it. Also, not to alter your recipe too much, we are quite a distance from the store, so homemade applesauce works well in place of avocados for the moisture, but use those green beauties whenever possible. Can’t drive an hour for an avocado, so can up those apples this fall everyone. Works well for moisture in baked goods when you are stuck inside in a snowstorm, as we often are for months on end. Hate buying the pouches of avocados, they have too much crap in them. Anyone have suggestions on how to “put up” avocados for storage??? Would be most grateful. Email me at if you have an answer, and on this site too of course!

Yes, too much almond is very bad, quite toxic actually. Beware everyone! Everything in moderation should be everyone’s rule ;]


45 Angela September 24, 2013 at 10:02 pm

These were amazing! (But I did sub in applesauce for the avocado, I didn’t have one around) I love the taste of the carob, and the texture was much more moist than the coconut flour recipes I’ve tried before. This is a keeper!


46 Michele January 3, 2014 at 1:11 am

A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!!! I made them tonight for my son’s 17th b-day. I doubled it & followed the recipe exactly except that I used 1/2 cup xylitol in place of the stevia. I actually made 2 “plain” (without the semi-sweet chips) just to see how it would go. This was so chocolaty and moist (even without the choc. chips in it) that I will probably just do them plain next time to save money and help out those who don’t tolerate chocolate as much. (In fact, they were so rich even I almost had to stop at one–this from a one-time chocoholic!) I will say, that for some reason, the “plain” ones seemed to fall ever so slightly in the center of the cupcake, but was hardly noticable… and not at all noticable after the whipped coconut cream was plopped on. I have only commented on one other blog before, but I just had to pop in and tell how great these were. THANK YOU; this will be our go-to b-day recipe from now on I know!!! I will serve to all with confidence! 🙂


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