Chocolate Coconut Flour Cupcakes with Espresso Buttercream (Low Carb and Gluten Free)


My youngest child turns one in a few days and so we had a little birthday party for her this weekend. We kept it small and simple, with just one other family sharing in the festivities. After all, one year olds hardly know what the fuss is all about and we figure we have years ahead of us where she is asking for the hottest new toys and wanting to have a big bash in her own honour. Might as well keep it low key while we can get away with it. We did, however, follow one time-honoured tradition in our family. We stripped her down to her diaper and let her dive into her birthday cake while we sat back, laughing hysterically and snapping hundreds of pictures.

The cake we fed our baby, along with everyone else, was full of sugar, flour and, obviously, carbs. It was gorgeous, and by all accounts, it tasted pretty great too. I, however, was abstemious. As much as I would have liked to partake, I simply don’t think my pancreas would have been able to rise to the challenge. So I planned ahead. I wasn’t about to let my daughter’s first birthday go by without raising a forkful of some sweet treat or other.

I had in my head to do coconut flour cupcakes again, but I wanted them to be chocolate. And this time, I didn’t want to play up the coconut flavour, I really just wanted it to taste like a regular chocolate cupcake, so that I could then pair it up with an interesting frosting. In addition to my own Coconut Flour Cupcake recipe, I searched for chocolate coconut flour cake online and found a few recipes to use for basic guidelines. All of these recipes called for sugar, and I was using my usual combination of erythritol and stevia so I had to adjust the other ingredients accordingly. Since stevia is a sweetener with no bulk, you can’t simply substitute it in for sugar, or your baked goods will be leathery and dry. “Bulk” has to be added in the form of additional liquid or other substance with volume and moisture (applesauce, yogurt, etc.)

For frosting, I knew I wanted a coffee flavour. Coffee and chocolate go together like, well, coffee and chocolate. I know the expression is supposed to be “peas and carrots”, but I don’t like cooked peas and I can’t see how these two vegetables go together any better than coffee and chocolate!


The Results: I had thought I’d done pretty well on my previous foray into coconut flour cupcakes, but these puppies blew those ones out of the water. They are virtually indistinguishable from regular chocolate cupcakes. They rose beautifully when baking, and they didn’t end up overly dense like many coconut flour products. The crumb is nice and light. When I took them out of the oven, they smelled almost identical to the layers of chocolate cake I’d just made for the “real” birthday cake. You honestly would not know that these were made with any coconut products at all, as the coconut flavour was completely masked just as I had intended.

I almost don’t even know what I did right with these cupcakes. I think it is both a combination of the actual ingredients, and the method in which I put it all together. I wrote it all down very quickly after they came out of the oven because I could tell I had nailed it right away. To say I am pleased with the outcome is something of an understatement.

They pair beautifully with the intensity of the espresso buttercream, but you could put whatever flavour of frosting on these that you wanted. It does make an odd amount of cupcakes (7), and for that I apologize, it’s just the way it worked out. If you wanted to make layer cake, you would want to double the recipe and pour it into two 8-inch round pans that were greased and line with parchment on the bottom. And you would need to increase the baking time by 5-10 minutes.

Chocolate Coconut Flour Cupcakes

1/4 cup butter
3 tbsp cocoa powder
1/2 tsp instant coffee granules
1/3 cup coconut flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
3 tbsp granulated erythritol
1/4 tsp salt
4 eggs
12 drops stevia extract
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup almond milk

Preheat oven to 350F and line 7 muffin tins with paper liners.

In a small saucepan, melt butter over low heat. Whisk in cocoa and instant coffee and set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together coconut flour, baking soda, baking powder, erythritol and salt. Be sure to break up any clumps.

In a larger bowl, beat eggs with vanilla and stevia until frothy. Add butter/cocoa mixture to eggs and beat until combined. Add half of coconut flour mixture and beat on low for a few moments, then add almond milk and beat in thoroughly. Add remaining coconut flour mixture and beat on low, then use a rubber spatula to stir and make sure all ingredients are well combined.

Divide batter among prepared muffin tins and bake in center of oven for 18-20 minutes. Cupcakes are done when the top is set and a tester inserted into the middle comes out clean. Cool in pan for 5-10 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Espresso Buttercream

1 tbsp hot water
1 tsp instant espresso powder (or instant coffee)
1/4 cup whipping cream
3 tbsp butter, softened
2 oz cream cheese, softened
2 tbsp powdered erythritol
6 drops stevia extract

In a small bowl, stir together hot water and espresso until coffee dissolves. Set aside.

With an electric mixer, whip cream until it forms stiff peaks. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, beat butter, cream cheese, erythritol and stevia together until creamy. Add coffee mixture and beat until combined. With a rubber spatula, fold in whipped cream carefully until well combined.

Spread frosting on cooled cupcakes with a knife or offset spatula, or pipe on with a decorating bag.

Serves 7. Each unfrosted cupcakes has a total of 13.7g of carbs and 4.4g of fiber, but only 8.6g is you subtract erythritol. Each serving of espresso buttercream has a total of 4.3g of carbs, but only 1g of carbs if you subtract erythritol.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...


  1. Marly says

    I'm not much of a coffee person, but these still look so good! I may have to bookmark this recipe for when we visit the hubby's parents. They love coffee and muffins…and I love cooking. It's a great relationship!

  2. Cajun Chef Ryan says

    I bet this cupcake is great with a cup of hot coffee too!

    Love the buttercream icing!

    Bon appetit!

  3. Sommer J says

    These look absolutely GORGEOUS, Carolyn! I am not sure where to find coconut flour here in Germany, though. Will ask around! My son's birthday is coming and I wanted to make both regular and gluten free cupcakes for his birthday!

    You should be very very proud of yourself!!

  4. Karen says

    Mmmm…these look like trouble. I'm betting it would be hard to eat just one! I love the espresso buttercream.

  5. Stella says

    Hey Carolyn, I'm totally curious about this recipe. I've never really used coconut flour for baking. I love coconut and use it all the time-the flour is new to me though. I might have to try these if I can find some nice coconut flour…
    p.s. 'coffee and chocolate' sounds better than 'peas and carrots' to me too;)

  6. Jelly Shot Test Kitchen says

    Low carb AND gluten free! I'm in love! These cupcakes looks fantastic . . . Cheers, Michelle

  7. says

    Hello dear! These are gorgeous! I have a whole sack of coconut flour that I have slowly been chipping away at. I have not found a delicious cake as of yet… so I am bookmarking your recipe! Makes me happy that you had such success! foodie love from the north! megan

  8. Ruby says

    Espresso buttercream – come to Mama! I love your birthday ritual – but where's the photo of cake-covered baby?! :-)

  9. Laura says

    I am literally drooling over these and am BEYOND excited to have stumbled upon your blog today. My favorite part of your recipes… I already have most of the ingredients already at home!! I might just have to whip these up tonight. So happy… Yay!!

  10. Melanie says

    Do you sift your coconut flour at all? Also, the carb count seems high for the ingredients listed. Am I missing something? Thanks–they look great!

  11. Carolyn says

    Hi Melanie,

    I don't sift my coconut flour usually, I just break up clumps with the back of a fork. I haven't looked at this recipe in a long time, so let me recalculate the carbs and see if I did it wrong. I usually post TOTAL carbs and then fiber and let people who do net carbs do the math themselves. So many people do it differently, I want everyone to be able to get what they need out of it!

  12. Carolyn says

    Hi again, Melanie…okay, recalculated with MasterCook and it comes out very close to what I calculated by hand. If you are looking for NET carbs, each cupcake has about 4g of carbs and each serving of buttercream has 1g.

  13. Linda says

    All your recipes look so good, especially this one. Is there another sugar substitute I can replace the erythritol?

  14. Peepers says

    I love your blog, thank you so much for the lovely recipes. I have your cinnamon scones in the oven as I type. I am so excited to try this chocolate cake recipe for his birthday in a couple weeks. We have been low carbing it for about a month and both lost 20 lbs. So awesome that we can still have a special birthday cake without blowing our diets and digestive systems. ūüėČ

  15. Catherine H. says

    These were quite good. I am very impressed by your minimizing of the fibrous "chew" that coconut flour always gives baked goods–it was almost undetectable in these. I unfortunately forgot to buy instant espresso powder at the store, so I made just plain chocolate cupcakes. The buttercream I first made vanilla-flavored, then later whipped a little peanut butter into it–OH MY GOODNESS. I look forward to trying these with the original espresso flavor, but in the meantime, these were so good and the buttercream possibly the best low carb frosting I've tried. I especially appreciate that these used coconut flour, instead of the dear-as-gold almond flour. Thanks, Carolyn!

  16. Paul C says

    Huge fan of our recipes, and this one is almost certainly the best low carb dessert I’ve ever made. My workmates raved over them! I have tried coconut flour recipes before and was not happy with the results, so this is awesome. I’m definitely going to make this as a round cake for the next time there is a birthday at work. The frosting is amazing, so I will slather it all over the cake. My only changes were to use coconut cream instead of almond milk, and for the frosting I made it vanilla and also put some coconut extract. I also added some liquid sucralose to both the cupcake and the frosting, as I personally don’t feel that Stevia quite cuts it. The previous post about peanut butter frosting sounds great, I will have to try that, too, maybe as the filling in the cake… OK, that must be done, and soon. Screw waiting for someone’s birthday!

  17. sue says

    Can I ask about the coffee granules in the cupcakes? I don’t drink coffee and last night I purchased “espresso granules” for another recipe (mini mochas) that called for espresso granules and now I have these in the house. Can I use the espresso granules in the cupcake recipe instead of coffee granules?

  18. sue says

    Oh! Another question. Is it okay to feed kids these, mine are only 9 and 6 and don’t do coffee, will it affect them (the caffeine, and isn’t it more in espresso)? Could I make them with a bit more cocoa instead of the coffee granules?

    • Carolyn says

      Espresso actually has less caffeine in it then regular coffee (the darker you roast the bean, the less caffeine). However, the coffee in the cupcakes is really just for offsetting the chocolate flavour, so if you want to skip it, you can. The buttercream could be a different flavour, if you want.

      • sue says

        They were to die-for!! I couldn’t wait long enough to ice them, I was eating the icing from the bowl (I should have remembered that I can’t control myself with icing). I found it made a lot of icing for sure for 7 cupcakes, so I had to eat some! My icing was too wet though, I’ll have to reduce or increase something next time….maybe I didn’t quite do enough cream cheese! Spectacular chocolate cupcakes (I didn’t do the espresso, but I will next time). I have never made chocolate anything in baking and I am so pleased with the outcome. They were so light and not at all gritty or anything like so many “gluten-free” products on the market. WOW! 10 Thumbs up!

    • Carolyn says

      Yes, it really is, if you subtract for the erythritol. I have used it extensively and tested my blood sugar frequently…it has almost no effect on my glucose levels so I count it as 0 carbs. It’s a personal preference. If you are someone who does net carbs, then you can also subract the fiber (which is indigestible, therefore shouldn’t count as a carb), and the total is 5.6 g of net carbs per cupcake.

  19. Ashley says

    I want to use pure stevia extract (powder) in place of the eythritol; how much would your recommend using? 1/8 teaspoon? I will still add the twelve drops of liquid stevia as well.

    • Carolyn says

      I haven’t used the powdered variety yet, but 1/8 tsp to 1/4 tsp sounds about right from other recipes I’ve seen. Maybe find another chocolate cupcake recipe that uses powdered stevia, then go with half of that because this recipe only makes 7 cupcakes.

  20. Pam says

    I made these today and they turned out great! I was so excited to find your blog! In my grocery, coconut flour is so much cheaper than almond flour so I have been trying to use it more. I lost 30 pounds 5 years ago going low carb and I have kept it off and feel great. Looking forward to trying more of your recipes. Thanks!

  21. rose says

    I am just discovering coconut flour and almond flour. As my 1st venture into this realm I made this recipe – as well as the Jorge Cruise choc cake in a mug (made with almond flour). This recipe is sooooo much better. the cupcakes are light and taste similar to red velvet cake. Instead of the icing, I add some non-fat light whip cream for a low calorie option. It’s perfection! the cupcakes keep well in the refrigerator. Can’t wait to try some of the other recipes.

  22. Belen says

    I made these today, and was so happy. They were just like a normal cupcake, without that eggy taste. I made some with espresso and some with peanut butter frosting. Fantastic recipe!

  23. Courtney says

    Thank you!!!! My youngest daughter was just diagnosed with type 1 diabetes and I have been scouring the Internet for some decent low carb baking recipes. This did not disappoint!!! She loved them, and they were just like “normal” cupcakes for her. :)

  24. Lisa says

    These look so yummy. I can wait to make them, however my son is allergic to almonds, so could I use coconut milk?

  25. Jane says

    Hi! I want to make the cake version for my son’s birthday. If I use Swerve as sweetener is that essentially the same as plain erythritol? And should I still use the stevia? I usually find stevia bitter so am nervous about using it. I also have stevia glycerite would that work? Thanks!!

    • Carolyn says

      Hi Jane. Yes, put the same amount of Swerve in and still use the stevia. I think you will find that in combination, they don’t have any aftertaste. But feel free to use the stevia glycerite, that’s fine for the stevia.

  26. Jane says

    Thanks so much. One more question sorry! Have you had any experience with freezing this recipe? I have to take the cake to another state and ice it there. I was planning to bake it tomorrow, cool, freeze and thaw out on Friday for party. Wondering if I should just try to make it there Fri AM but could be difficult as at someone else’s house. Have you found it to be pretty stable after baking? You know how flax meal breads change a bit in texture. I’m planning to make all my non low carb family eat this so I’m on the spot!!

  27. tara says

    hi, i’ve had next to zero luck with coconut flour –if I leave out the liquid stevia, will it affect the texture of this cake? It seems like everything affects a coconut flour recipe!

    • Carolyn says

      The amount of liquid stevia in this recipe is so minor, it won’t affect the texture. However, you will find that it’s not sweet enough without some sort of additional sweetener.

  28. Jay says

    I’m confused about your comments about carbs and subtracting erythritol? What are the net carbs (carbs-fiber) for the cupcakes? And also for the frosting?

    • Carolyn says

      Erythritol does not affect blood sugar so it shouldn’t be counted into the carbs either. I used to list them, I no longer do. So the net carbs of the cupcakes themselves would be 4.2 g and the net carbs of the frosting would be 1 g. Hope that helps!

  29. Savannah says

    Did not have any instant coffee or expresso on hand, and I didnt want the caffeine at night anyway, so I just made them plain chocolate, and I added some sugar free hersheys chocolate chips into the batter. I doubled the recipe and made a dozen… for those wondering about using a pure powder such as Kal, I used about 1/8 tsp Kal pure stevia extract powder for the doubled recipe. With pure stevia, starting out with less is always better, since you can always add more, but if you overdo it to begin with, it will be ruined and bitter. I also used some xylitol plus the amount of called for erythritol. They were SO delicious!!! I have made other coconut flour recipes that did not turn out very well or tasted very coconutty. These did not taste like coconut at all… On the contrary, the flavor was spot on with a regular chocolate cake! Texture was fabulous too, not too dry or soggy. Thank you so much for your fantastic recipe!!!! Cant wait to try them with the coffee and expresso another time!

    • Savannah says

      Edit- I think I actually added even less than 1/8 tsp kal stevia… I was nervous about adding too much and making them bitter… That’s why I added the xylitol to pump up the sweetness.

  30. Emily says

    I made these tonight. I didn’t have any espresso powder, so I put caramel extract in the frosting instead, and they were delicious. Could not believe how much like regular cake they taste!

  31. Emma says

    Made these yesterday! I weighed my cocoa powder, I think it needed more than the weighed “tbsp” measurement.

    Do you sift your coconut flour before scooping? I did that this time, since I’ve had real trouble with clumps with coconut flour in the past, and wanted to be sure I measured right.

    The batter was VERY watery (thin pancake batter), so I worried and added a bit of extra coconut flour which may have contributed to them being less dark colored and dryer than your photos.

    Do you have photos of the batter? When I do low carb baking I always get nervous when I get to mixing the batter or dough, because I never know what consistency it should be! Stuff like coconut flour is so subjective to measure (weigh? sift? volume?) and absorbs liquid so readily that I never know if I did it right, or wrong!

    other than that, the sweetness, crumb, rise, and texture were GREAT! I made these paleo and dairy free for a friend with numerous food allergies, so subbed so delicious coconut milk and coconut oil for almond milk and butter. Any reccomendations for chocolate frosting recipes (dairy free subs if possible)?

    Please do include some batter photos if you have them, and in the meantime if you could speak to what it looks like, that would be great!

    Thanks so much, I love your recipes and writing :)

    • Carolyn says

      I don’t have batter photos and I made this a long time ago. But you were right to add more coconut flour. It should not be that thin. I do not sift my coconut flour and I use Bob’s Red Mill so all of that can make a difference.

  32. myra says

    Thank you so much for this amazing recipe, I omitted the coffee and stevia and replaced the almond milk with coconut milk and used xylitol instead of erythritol. I paiired the choc cupcakes with plain cream cheese icing. My hubby says its better than the real thing and I think so too… I divided the batter into 12 and ended with perfectly flat cupcakes that rose to the top of the muffin pan. I made changes according to the ingredients I had on hand but the result was so awesome I will stick to it. Just next time will try the expresso version. Thanks again. Myra

  33. eve baum says

    I am Not sure what I did wrong because it’s like the egg mixture went to the bottom and the coconut chocolate espresso layer went on top… I made them with my own coconut flour by using a coffee grinder and unsweetened coconut. I also used Truvia. and no liquid stevia… they tasted amazing just worried. What did I do wrong??

    • Carolyn says

      I am going to guess that it was the homemade coconut flour, which may not have been as fine or as homogenous as commercially ground coconut flour.

    • Carolyn says

      I don’t really know because I’ve never used it. Sorry I can’t be of more help but I think people on the THM Facebook group should be able to help.

  34. Lance says

    Hi Carolyn, Would I be able to substitute full fat FAGE Greek Yogurt for the butter orwithout affecting the flavor or texture in the cupcakes, without causing some other problem. I have to keep my carbs very low, but I also need to be careful of saturated fat. If yogurt would work, how much would I need to use? I was thinking of unsweetened apple sauce as sub as well. Difficult to be low carb and low fat.

    • Carolyn says

      Yogurt (or applesauce) has more moisture than the butter, so you can sub it, but I think you will need to reduce the added liquid by a bit. I’d start with half of the liquid in this recipe, then add as needed. Remember, batters like this are thicker than conventional batter, so it should be “spreadable” but not “pourable”, if that makes sense.

      • Lance says

        Thanks so much for this. To eliminate liquid, would you reduce the amount of egg (that seems to be the only liquid except for small amount of almond milk?) I wish there were a fat that I could use to replace butter in baking that was healthier than butter – like avocado is – but I suppose there is no easy fix. If you have one, I would be thrilled to know.

        • Carolyn says

          In my world, Lance, butter is considered very healthy. I know you said you are reducing fat and carbs but most people would advise against that and a great deal of evidence is coming out in favour of high fat (including saturated fat) diets. I don’t like to tell people how to eat but grassfed butter is an incredibly healthy part of a low carb diet.

          However, if you still want to make this recipe without it, then you do need to reduce the almond milk. Try 3 tbsp to start with.

          • Lance says

            Thanks Carolyn, I really appreciate your thoughtful response. I agree, sat fats can be a a very good thing, I am very aware of the evidence surfacing in the last few years about it. Still, I am careful. Just for fun, I’ll try it with the reduction once to see.

  35. Angela says

    Hi, Carolyn! I just wanted to say a huge THANK YOU to you for doing this incredible blog. My hubby and I were on a low-carb lifestyle (and lost a significant amount of weight), but then got burned out because we thought we could only have lots of meat, cheese, veggies, etc. Your recipes have opened up a whole new world to us. I tried your brie, ham, and green apple Panini last night (hubs said it tasted gourmet), and I plan to try this cupcake recipe for our church’s Trunk or Treat this Friday. Thank you for giving us such a fresh, vibrant start again on our healthy lifestyle journey!

    • Carolyn says

      Hi Angela – thank you for coming to let me know. It’s always so great to hear from readers and know my recipes help!

  36. Diane says

    These look fantastic! Can’t wait to make them. Thank you so much for doing all the hard work for us first so we can benefit. Two questions please: 1) what are the sugar or sweetness equiv to 12 drops and 6 drops stevia extract? I have erthritol but may be using liquid sucralose for the stevia. 2) Could I use heavy whipping cream for the almond milk or would that mess things up? Thanks much!!

    • Carolyn says

      The sugar equivalent of 12 drops of stevia extract is about 2 tbsp. Don’t use HWC, use water or a mix of water and cream.

  37. Lance says

    Hi Carolyn, Following up I used the subbed the butter with avocado puree, and the muffins tasted really good, I couldn’t detect a difference that with butter, and they were a little moister than with butter which was a good thing. I am thinking of making a two or three layer cake using the recipe per your instructions, I know from making the muffins (whether using butter or subbing avocado) that the finished product does not rise that much. Would adding whey protein help it rise (and would it help keep the product together if using avocado which is more moist than butter?) or adding xanthan gum? Maybe I could beat the better longer to add more air?

    • Carolyn says

      The whey protein might help a bit. But remember that avocado, although very fatty, is more than just plain fat like butter. Like you said, it has moisture…it also has fiber. All of that could be contributing. I might an extra egg and possibly more leavening agent.

  38. Cynthia says

    Do you think this would work to make a sheetcake? Should I double the recipe? I’m going to try to come up with a low carb chocolate/coconut poke cake for Thanksgiving and have been trying to find a good cake base to start with. I would leave out the coffee and was thinking about using coconut oil and coconut milk substitutes, to give it a stronger coconut flavor. What do you think?

  39. Jo says

    I can’t wait to try these! Can I substitute normal cream for the almond milk, or should I rather use full fat milk? Thanks!

  40. Mary-Anne says

    Is it possible to sub out the almond mild with yogurt? Can’t get unsweetened almond milk in SA and if I make my own it goes off before I can use it all. TIA

    • Carolyn says

      Actually, a better sub would be half cream and half water. Or just water, if you absolutely need to.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *