It’s not every day that a new flour arrives in my kitchen. When I received coconut flour for my birthday way back in April, it was an opportunity to play with my food — in the pursuit of good health, good taste, good fun. But, being almost entirely unfamiliar with coconut flour, I had to do quite a bit of research first.

I quickly learned that it can be a finicky ingredient for newcomers. Most baking recipes are designed for wheat flour and other similar grains, therefore you can’t simply substitute coconut flour to achieve the desired, expected results. You can use coconut flour to replace 10% to 30% of wheat or other flour in a recipe; though, there are recipes created specifically for 100% coconut flour.

To tweak a recipe on your own, take note:

+ Coconut flour is highly absorbent, and requires an equal portion of water or other liquid to be added, usually in a 1:1 ratio.

+ On the other hand, because of its propensity to absorb like a dry sponge, liquids in the recipe should be kept to a minimum — using butter or oil will prevent drying out.

+ As a gluten-free (GF) flour, it doesn’t have that stabilizing power and can yield crumbling pastry — generally one egg (or egg substitute) per one ounce of flour combats this.

+ You may need to reduce overall baking time when substituting coconut flour for wheat flours, sometimes by as much as half at the temperature.

Because our pantry wasn’t yet entirely stocked for gluten-free baking when I made these, I altered Elana’s GF double chocolate mocha biscotti recipe to incorporate whole wheat pastry and coconut flours. Both nutritious, whole wheat pastry flour is high in protein and whole grains, low in gluten (not GF), and provides tender results; while coconut flour is high in fiber and protein, is gluten-free, very low in carbohydrates, and has a delicate hint of coconut.

By the time I calculated the percentages and noted all the changes to be made, the two recipes were faintly related. This meant great care and patience at each step to ensure everything came together. In the end, I patted the dough into a large log, put the pan in the oven and crossed my fingers all would go well.

Remove, cool, slice, replace on the pan, back to the oven and cross fingers one more time.

I don’t know what else to say other than, I love these. I love that they’re not too sweet, slightly crumbly and rich, with a delicate but not overpowering coconut flavor. I love that they are quick and easy, but also allow me to roll up my sleeves and get my hands dirty. I love that they’re relatively nutritious, but you would never know except that you don’t feel weighted down after eating a couple.

Maybe the quirks are in part why coconut flour hasn’t caught on as a staple in the mainstream, or perhaps it’s the higher price tag. If only as a splurge, coconut flour is worth experimenting with.

My suggestion as we head into cooler nights and grayer days? Bake a pan, or two, of double chocolate mocha coconut biscotti. Extras freeze nicely, but I don’t think there will be need for that.

Double Chocolate Mocha Coconut Biscotti [makes about 14 biscotti]

Printable version

For an entirely GF biscotti, swap blanched almond flour for the whole wheat pastry flour, or follow Elana’s recipe (using no coconut flour) here

For a vegan version, follow this recipe and swap coconut milk for the whey. You may need to add a little more or less, depending on the stickiness of your dough.

1 1/2 c whole wheat pastry flour

2/3 c coconut flour

1/4 c cocoa powder (dark cocoa if you have it)

2 T arrowroot starch — available at most larger groceries, or from Penzey’s

1 T espresso powder

1/4 t kosher flake salt

1/2 t baking soda

1/2 c mild honey

whey (or water, milk), as needed to bring dough together

1/2 c dark chocolate chips, or chunks from a coarsely chopped dark chocolate bar

In a food processor, pulse together whole wheat pastry flour, coconut flour, cocoa powder, arrowroot starch, espresso powder, salt and baking soda until ingredients are well combined. Add honey and pulse several times. With the motor running, add whey (or other liquid of choice) 1 T at a time until the dough just begins to come together. Dump dough and any remaining crumbles onto a clean work surface, working quickly with your hands to pull everything together into a ball.

(Note: Coconut flour tends to clump — thorough use of a food processor is best to avoid this. There is no worry of over mixing coconut flour recipes due to its lack of gluten. As this recipe contains some WW flour, follow instructions above.)

Work dark chocolate chips or chunks into the dough again with your hands. Form dough into 2 logs on a parchment lined baking sheet.

Bake at 350° F for 15 minutes, then remove from oven and cool for 1 hour. Remove from the oven and cut the logs into 1/2″ slices on the diagonal with a very sharp knife.

Spread slices out on a baking sheet and bake at 300° F for 12-15 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool, set and become crispy.

Adapted from Elana’s Pantry

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