Almond & Coconut Cake: A Happy Accident

If the grocery store isn't your favorite place, it should be. We're sleuthing for the best back-of-the-box recipes and each week we'll share our latest find. 

Today: Looking for salad and ending up with cakemy life in eight words.

Shop the Story

I almost over-baked this cake. I was sitting on the couch with the scent of almonds and coconut and sugar wafting around me and got distracted imagining a cake-scented perfume. I’d buy this one. I’d wear it every single day and I wager that I’d give Chanel a run for its money.

Lest you worry that one cake couldn’t smell insanely good and taste insanely good too, it does.

I found the recipe in an unlikely place: the organic grains and bulk foods section of the grocery store. I was looking for quinoa and contemplating a nice healthy tabbouleh salad and there—amidst the virtuous bags of teff and flax meal—I found a stellar cake recipe on the back of an almond meal bag. 

This recipe plays off the idea of a classic flourless almond cake, but a touch of coconut flour gives it a depth of flavor that I loved. Coconut and almonds are a perfect match: Both are nutty and dense and pair well with sugar.

More: Use up the rest of your coconut flour in tres leches cake or blondies.

Something to keep in mind: This cake is very, very moist and you must chill it before slicing into it. Between you and me, forcing someone to wait and chill a cake before eating it is a unique form of torture, and I wouldn’t ask you to do it if it weren’t absolutely necessary. 

It’s worth it! This cake is perfect. Eat it plain or sift confectioners' sugar over the top. I made a quick strawberry sauce by cooking frozen strawberries in a saucepan until they thickened and spooned it over my first slice. Vanilla ice cream would not be a bad move, and you also won’t go wrong if you split a slice in half, toast it, and pour heavy cream over top. 

Flourless Almond and Coconut Cake

Adapted from Bob's Red Mill

Makes one 9-inch cake

3/4 cup butter
1 cup sugar
3 eggs

1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups almond meal
1/2 cup coconut flour
2 teaspoons baking powder

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Do you have a favorite back of the box recipe, or have you heard about a great one? Leave any suggestions in the comments, and I'll try them out and share them here!

Photos by Posie Harwood 

Join the Conversation

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Tracey
  • Joyce
  • Dovi Joel
    Dovi Joel
  • Em
  • lynn
I like warm homemade bread slathered with fresh raw milk butter, ice cream in all seasons, the smell of garlic in olive oil, and sugar snap peas fresh off the vine.


Tracey May 20, 2017
Made this today, it turned out wonderfully. I did substitute coconut oil instead of butter also almond extract instead of vanilla. Definitely will make again
Joyce August 3, 2016
Can you use almond milk in place of the dairy and use coconut sugar in place of white sugar. Thank you Joyce
Sue July 10, 2017
I've made it with almond milk and with yogurt. Both worked well. I've also subbed honey for the white sugar and that worked very well, although it was much darker than the version above and I did have to watch it to make sure the top didn't get too dark.
Dovi J. June 19, 2016
This recipe looks great! Can you replace the sugar with a sugar replacement like xylotol? For my LCHF, banting parents :)
Em February 11, 2016
Is the coconut flavor from the coconut flour fairly distinct, or faint? I would like to make this for someone who s on a gluten-free diet, but they also do not like the taste of coconut very much. Or would substituting the coconut flour for all almond flour work? Thank you!
Author Comment
Posie (. February 11, 2016
It's really not very distinct at all...I would say mostly it just tastes nutty. You could definitely use all almond flour but I would recommend trying the coconut!
lynn August 3, 2015
What could I replace the coconut flour with? Regular all purpose flour? Or should I just replace with almond meal instead?
Shayna H. June 6, 2015
any ideas for an egg replacement for this recipe, to make the cake vegan? coconut oil for butter is a perfect sub!
Author Comment
Posie (. June 6, 2015
You could try flax (one tablespoon flax meal mixed with three tablespoons water equal one egg) -- I haven't tried that but I think it would work!
Winslow D. April 20, 2015
How about coconut oil? It's supposed to be a lot healthier than butter and is right in keeping with the ingredients.
Author Comment
Posie (. April 20, 2015
That's an excellent idea -- I think it would work really well texture-wise and would help emphasis the coconut profile.
Winslow D. April 20, 2015
Thanks, Posie. :O)
Catherine F. April 20, 2015
Posie, I worried about that, too. Perhaps a mix (olive oil and butter), with proportionally less olive oil. Thanks!
Catherine F. April 20, 2015
What about substituting the butter for olive oil? I think the appropriate ratio is 3/4 olive to 1 butter, so in this case, something more than 1/2 and less than 2/3 ccup olive oil could work. Just a thought . . . the recipe looks wonderful.
Author Comment
Posie (. April 20, 2015
Certainly worth a shot! The flavor of a good, fruity olive oil would be great with the almond, but I would be tentative about replacing all the butter with oil as olive oil cake already has a tendency to be quite moist, and this cake is very, very moist already without it. I will experiment with it!
dinaofdoom April 22, 2015
catherine, i've baked with a lot of coconut flour in my low carb and gluten free food adventures. coconut flour requires a lot of moisture, and that is usually found in the eggs and fat. i would be hesitant to sub an oil that is not a 1:1 ratio to the original recipe.

Catherine F. April 22, 2015
I bow to your experience! I have absolutely no history with coconut flour, but I do quite a lot of baking with olive oil in place of butter. The rule of thumb when working with wheat flours and, as is my habit, with almond flour, is to reduce use olive oil in a .75 to 1.0 ratio with butter. I would love for someone to try this (maybe me!); perhaps fiddling around with the ratio or even doing a 1:1 swap. Thanks for your thoughts!
Karen H. April 20, 2015
Amazon has all those things.
cl April 20, 2015
Is coconut flour gluten - free?
Author Comment
Posie (. April 20, 2015
Yes! It's made from just ground, dried coconut.
esskay April 20, 2015
Is coconut flour the same as desiccated coconut powder... the kind used to whip up coconut milk, after adding hot water?
Author Comment
Posie (. April 20, 2015
Coconut flour is much finer in texture -- it's been ground even further than desiccated coconut powder, so it's better for baking. I'd imagine you could use it in the cake, but it would give it a slightly grittier texture. Let me know how it goes if you try it!
esskay April 20, 2015
I surely will, Posie. This sounds like an original taste worth mastering :)
GreenSproutKits April 19, 2015
Trader Joes carries almond meal that's significantly less pricey than I've seen elsewhere and just as good!
soozy April 19, 2015
Do you think coconut sugar and coconut oil would be decent substitutes in this reipe?
Elia April 19, 2015
Looks yummy and sounds healthy. Where do you buy coconut flour? Question: is almond meal the same as almond flour? Let me know. Thanks.
Author Comment
Posie (. April 19, 2015
Elia, almond flour is usually slightly more finely ground but they are both made from just ground almonds so you can use them interchangeably in this recipe (and most places). You should be able to find coconut flour in the health food/organic section of most grocery stores and a natural foods store would definitely have it.
beejay45 April 19, 2015
I don't have much luck with sourcing those kinds of things locally, but nutsdotcom carries them, and they have organic versions, too. Depending on where you live, sometimes you can get your order the next day. I, unfortunately, live on the wrong coast. Sigh.