Coconut Flour Experiments Gone Awry (or how pumpkin fritters became pumpkin cookies)


Do not be alarmed. No one was hurt while conducting these experiments. Except, perhaps, a cup of pumpkin puree and some coconut flour. And maybe my pride. I thought I was getting pretty good at working with coconut flour, but this substance continually surprises me. It simply refuses to behave like wheat flour, and resists me most vehemently when I try to make it do what it’s carb and gluten-laden counterpart would do.

I had a brilliant idea…pumpkin fritters made with coconut flour. I had come across several pumpkin fritter recipes that sounded delicious and I didn’t think it would be terribly hard to make a low carb version. Using these recipes as a guide and knowing what I thought I knew about coconut flour, I mixed up a batter that looked, tasted and smelled the part. I heated up my oil for deep-frying, dropped in a little batter, and it sizzled delightfully. So far, so good. So I dropped in a few tablespoons of batter, hoping for the best and expecting some golden brown balls of pumpkin deliciousness. And that’s when it all fell apart. Quite literally! The batter began to disintegrate and spread all over, floating on top like the remnants of the BP oil spill! As it began to brown, I scooped it out and gave it a taste. It wasn’t awful, but it wasn’t good either. It has soaked up so much oil, that’s all you could taste.

I was a little disappointed, but I rallied and regrouped. So they weren’t going to be the deep-fried, donut-style fritters of my dreams. Fine. Let’s make them like pancake-style fritters. How hard could that be? After all, I had made coconut flour pancakes before. I had no question that this would work, but pride goeth before the fall. My first attempt didn’t hold together at all, so I added a bit more coconut flour. My second attempt wouldn’t spread in the pan without being flattened by the spatula, and even then, it wouldn’t hold together. Trying to flip it to cook on the other side was disastrous, there was simply no way to make it stay in one piece. It did, however, taste a far sight better than the other fritters. In fact, I made a full breakfast from the the bits and pieces of coconut flour pumpkin fritter/pancake that ended up emerging from my pan.

I still had about half the batter left and I was flummoxed. I didn’t want to throw it away, as it tasted pretty good, but what the heck could I do with it that would actually resemble something someone wanted to eat??? Finally, I tossed in some almond meal, a handful of chocolate chips, formed it into balls and baked it as cookies. Even that was only semi-successful. They took a long time to bake and still remained overly-moist in the middle. The flavour was decent, nothing to write home about, although my little ones liked them well enough. Don’t read anything into that, they are not the most discerning palates and it was likely the chocolate chips that drew them in! I won’t even provide you with a recipe, for when it comes to low carb, gluten free pumpkin cookies, I know I can do a lot better than this!

The moral of the story here? The take-away point? For me, I suppose it’s that I shouldn’t assume I know what I am doing when it comes to coconut flour. Or perhaps it’s simply that everyone, no matter how good a cook, has wonderful ideas that don’t pan out. But it’s also important to experiment, and even when it doesn’t work out as you had imagined it would, it can be rather fun. And if you’re lucky, there might be something semi-edible at the end. When push comes to shove, just throw in a handful of chocolate chips and feed it to your kids!

Feel free to make me feel better and share your recipe experiment disasters. Please? My ego could use a little boost!

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  1. Kim - Liv Life says

    Love this post!! I think we have all been there! You sound like one of those article from Cooks Illustrated. I don't know that I would have had the patience to keep going. Good job!

  2. gharkness says

    You need to understand the nature of coconut flour (I know – you're learning!). The problem here is that you have too much coconut flour in relationship to the eggs in the recipe. More eggs/less coconut flour will improve your results dramatically. How do I know? I learned the hard way too :-)

  3. Island Vittles says

    I once spent a half a day making puff pastry from scratch. Roll, fold, roll, fold…a true labour of love. Then I cut them into pretty vol-au-vents for my mushroom appetizers, and put them in a nice hot oven.

    Unfortunately, I also turned off the oven absentmindedly as soon as I put them in. I came back 1/2 hour later to find a pool of butter and some very floppy puff pastry. The only saving grace was that I chose a baking sheet with a rim — at least I was saved the oven clean-up! Theresa

  4. Tessie of Germany says

    That about sums up all my early experiences baking lol! At least you got two things that were edible out of the mix!

  5. Erin @ EKat's Kitchen says

    Thank you for using the word flummoxed! Sorry that the best-laid plans went awry, but the cookies look (and sound!) pretty darned tasty.

  6. Emily Z says

    Well, here's story. Not sure if you saw my recipe for the Milanese breaded chicken I posted a few weeks ago, but when I posted it, that was not the first time I made it. The first time, I did not read all the direction, did not give myself the time I should have to made it, and it was rushed, falling apart, the chicken didn't get cooked all the way so I had to stop in the middle of dinner to cook it more… it was one of those frustrating experiences. But, the good news with the frustrating experiences is that you learn from them so that the next time it goes WAY better. Thanks for sharing your story, maybe the next time I have a bad experience I should write about it too! 😉

  7. Emma says

    Oh my too many disasters to count for me! I say good for you for experimenting, where would we be without that anyway?

    I will say I made a Nigella recipe once years ago for cappuccino cupcakes (super easy recipe) and it was a disaster – not Nigella's fault, but mine as I forgot a rather vital ingredient …

  8. Karen says

    I think you should be commended for all the other recipes that come out so great. I wouldn't even know what to do if someone said I couldn't use wheat flour. I've got a few gluten-free friends and I'm always terrified when they're coming for dinner!
    At least you managed to turn this into cookies. And next time I'm sure they'll be the fritters of your dreams.

  9. Stella says

    Hey Carolyn, sorry your pride was hurt;-) If it makes you feel any better, my pride was hurt yesterday while making some sugar free spelt cookies. They were just wrong (smile)! I'm not going to give up though. I made an awesome spelt cookie one time-I just can't remember how I did it. I'm going to figure it out though…
    I'm sure you'll master coconut flour soon too!

  10. Sugar Free Low Carb says

    I've had my share of disasters and threw away some items made with pretty expensive ingredients. I did make some tasty pumpkin pancakes out of almond flour that I will share this week.

  11. Cake Duchess says

    This is a great post! I love these cookies. I had an almost mishap with my scones and had to quickly change recipe a little yesterday 😉 Happy Monday!

  12. Indie.Tea says

    They look like they could have potential.
    I've had many, many cooking disasters – the one that I can think of off the top of my head is my failed passionfruit cupcakes – the first batch was hard as stone. And I tried inventing a vegan pumpkin muffin – like your 'disaster' they were over-moist in the middle and just 'off'.

  13. honey82 says

    Ciao Cara,
    sono capitata per caso nel tuo blog e mi piace davvero molto,per atmosfera e ricette..bravissima!!!;-)
    Un mega bacione:-**

  14. Tes says

    I've never worked with coconut flour before… but love the experimentation of new ingredients. At lease I know you have fun cooking this :)

  15. Pretend Chef says

    And this is why I refer to myself as Pretend Chef because I only think I know what I am doing in the kitchen. I have more recipe disasters than successes. At least you think on your toes and tried out other possibilities. I would have thrown out the idea and recipe. Good for you!

  16. The Urban Baker says

    I love the idea of using coconut oil Isn't it great when a failure tuns into a success! Keep on truckin'! I know you will come up with something great!

  17. Sommer J says

    Mmmm pumpkin fritters sounds like a fantastic idea!!! Keep trying- I know you will turn up something amazing as usual. It's so frustrating when things do not work out, but when you finally get it right, it makes all the curse words, hair pulling worth it. Happy your kids got a nice treat out of it. How can you go wrong with chocolate?

  18. UrMomCooks says

    This reminds me of the pumpkin scones I attempted to make in a skillet awhile back… I still blogged them (as a character building exercise…) My son thought they were wonderful!

  19. The Mom Chef says

    It's nice to see the whole story behind experimenting, even when it doesn't work out! I'll bet one of these days soon we're going to see a successful fritter.

  20. BakingWithoutABox says

    I have so many recipes that work out great. In my head. Unfortunately, they don't always work out so good in real life. You learn more from the fails or near misses anyway. Think it's awesome you're trying. Hang in there. One will work perfectly!

  21. M @ Betty Crapper says

    I like reading about disasters. It makes cooking real. I'm impressed you didn't give up. I know I would have.

  22. janet says

    I just bought a mini-donut pan, I wonder if they would work that way? I'm visiting my daughter this weekend, who can't tolerate almond flour, yet wants to learn to bake low-carb…so I just purchased quite a bit of coconut flour & have hopes of finding some good recipes.

  23. Carolyn says

    You know what, Janet? You're brilliant! I think they might have worked very well as donuts, and now I am tempted to try that out. I don't know if your daughter can tolerate peanut flour or if it's all nut flours, but Sugar Free Low Carb Recipes has a great peanut flour pumpkin donut recipe that is wonderful, or you might try subbing in the coconut flour for the peanut flour. Let me know if you can't find her blog and I will give you the link (you can always email me at carketch29 (at) yahoo (dot) com.

  24. reaamy says

    I’ve made a few “fails” along the way, too. One of my favorite memories is of my teenage self proudly serving my first homemade peach pie to my family and visiting grandparents. It tasted wonderful, but the texture was off. The recipe didn’t say to peel the peaches, so I hadn’t. My family enjoyed every luscious, “furry” bite, but I never made that mistake again!

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