Vanilla Bean Coconut Flour Cupcakes and Teaching Children About Kindness


Low Carb Vanilla Bean Cupcakes made with Coconut Flour It’s not easy to teach small children about kindness to others, especially to others they don’t even know.  Young children are, by their very nature, incredibly self-centered and self-absorbed.  Although they start showing empathy early on, getting them to really think beyond their own little world and put themselves in someone else’s shoes is difficult.  That is not to say it’s not worth trying, and trying frequently.  Although they may not truly understand, the lessons we teach our children early on set the stage for how they think and behave when they are a little older.  It’s an ongoing process, one that should last a lifetime.

My kids are incredibly fortunate little people, and this is never more apparent that in the fall and early winter, when the holidays are approaching and all three of my kids have birthdays.  Simply put, there is an absolute glut of presents that come their way from our large and loving extended family.  And the kids love it, of course.  But as parents, it hits you a little…they get so much stuff when other kids have little to none.  It leaves you feeling a little worried that your kids won’t learn gratitude and kindness, that they will become all too used to this influx of toys, clothes and other presents.

Low Carb Vanilla Bean Cupcakes

Last year, we decided to use their birthdays as an opportunity to teach them kindness and charity.  We were hosting a combined birthday party for all three, but the idea of them getting even MORE stuff from their friends was a little distasteful to us.  So we asked our extensive guest list not to bring presents for our kids, but instead bring a new and unwrapped toy for Toys for Tots.  And I think many other parents were so delighted by the idea, they brought more than one item for the donation.  We ended up with what amounted to a whole minivan’s worth of toys to donate (I know this, because I had to pack them all into our car!).

I know it was a little tough on my kids, seeing all the presents that weren’t for them.  They asked several times if they could keep one, just one. But it was such a great way to open the discussion about kindness to strangers.  We talked about how lucky they were to have a warm house, plenty of food and a loving family who bought them presents.  We talked about other families who weren’t so lucky and who might not see any presents at Christmastime.  It was all a little over the 3 year old’s head, but the older two really got it and enjoyed dropping the presents off at our local police department for Toys for Tots.  I could see the delight on their faces when we filled the entire donation box with our collection.


This year, we aren’t hosting a large birthday gathering.  But we intend to continue the tradition anyway, and have each of our kids pick out a toy or two to donate.  And as they get older and more emotionally mature, I can only hope that these little lessons sink in and pave the way for greater kindnesses.  And I hope to teach them day-to-day kindnesses too, not just holiday ones, because every little bit helps.

Low Carb Gluten Free Vanilla Bean Cupcakes #coconutflour 

Vanilla Bean Coconut Flour Cupcakes and Teaching Children About Kindness

Yield: 14 cupcakes

Serving Size: 1

Calories per serving: cupcake

Vanilla Bean Coconut Flour Cupcakes and Teaching Children About Kindness

Coconut flour cupcakes with real vanilla bean in both the cake and the frosting. Low Carb and Gluten-Free.


  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 1 cup coconut flour
  • 3/4 cup Swerve Sweetener or other erythritol
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 7 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp stevia extract
  • Frosting:
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 2 cups powdered Swerve Sweetener or other powdered erythritol
  • 6 to 8 tbsp heavy cream
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract


  1. For the cake, heat almond milk in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Split vanilla bean lengthwise and use a sharp knife to scrape out seeds. Add seeds and bean to almond milk and bring to a gentle simmer. Remove from heat and let steep 30 minutes. Remove vanilla bean.
  2. Preheat oven to 325F and line a muffin tin with cupcake liners.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together coconut flour, sweetener, baking powder and salt. Break up any clumps with the back of a fork.
  4. Stir in eggs, melted butter and almond milk and stir vigorously. Stir in vanilla extract and stevia extract and continue to stir until mixture is smooth and well combined.
  5. Divide batter between prepared muffin cups and bake 20 to 30 minutes or until tops are set and a tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool.
  6. For the frosting, beat butter until creamy. Add sweetener, 1/2 cup at a time, until well combined. Add 6 tbsp cream and beat until well combined. If frosting seems stiff, continue to add cream, 1 tbsp at a time, until desired consistency is achieved.
  7. Split vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape out seeds. Add seeds and vanilla extract to frosting and beat until combined.
  8. Pipe or spread onto cooled cupcakes.


Serves 14. Each serving has 10 g of carbs and 6 g of fiber. Total NET CARBS = 4 g.

258 Calories; 21g Fat (74.1% calories from fat); 6g Protein; 10g Carbohydrate; 6g Dietary Fiber; 153mg Cholesterol; 411mg Sodium

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    • Carolyn says

      They taste like vanilla cupcakes. The cake is a little less sweet than typical vanilla cake. There is a hint of coconut, but not much.

  1. Mary Kate says

    Hey Carolyn, just wondering if you have experienced foods being dry that are made with coconut flour? I love the stuff, it smells great, but whenever I use it the final product turns out extremely dry. I’ve heard that mayo helps with moisture in cakes.. do you think that I could add a little mayo to the batter to fix that problem? Honestly, you’re the genius, I’m clueless!

    • Carolyn says

      Mayo sounds like a great idea! Because it contains oil, it should help. I haven’t found my coconut flour recipes too dry at all…if anything, they can be overly moist. But mayo isn’t a bad addition to recipes that you find too dry.

  2. Jean B. says

    You are not only an LC baking guru but a wonderful person too! I love your idea about Toys for Tots and working to instill kindness in your progeny. I did that via example and associated commentary but wish I had had an idea like yours too.

  3. cheryl says

    My dh is allergic to tree nuts like almonds but not coconut. Could I use coconut milk instead? heard to find LC recipes without almond flour.

  4. Gretchen Starke says

    Looks like a great recipe and one I would really like to try, without the sprinkles, though, unless they are made with natural food colorings.
    I have a couple of questions. I have never cooked with vanilla beans themselves. So when you remove the bean from the almond milk, do you also remove the seeds? And if so, could you use the seeds that steeped in the almond milk for the frosting?

    Loved your story about donating to Toys for Tots. When my youngest was little we went to WalMart and picked out a child on the Salvation Army Christmas tree and shopped together for the gifts. We tried to pick a girl about the same age as my daughter.

    • Carolyn says

      No, you leave the seeds in the milk and add them to the batter. They are tiny so it’s not like you could get them out anyway.

  5. Rae says

    I made these in a mini bundt pan. I was so pleasantly surprised bc anytime I’ve baked with coconut flour it was either too dry or fell apart. They came out of the pan easily, they maintained their shape. It was an easy recipe and so good. I froze the cakes (mostly bc I didn’t want to eat them all)…and this morning I took one out and am enjoying it with my coffee. BTW, I ran out of the ingredients to make the frosting so I found an nice cinnamon glaze recipe from Maria Emmerich. For the family, I sliced the cake, put a thin layer of cream cheese inside (didn’t make it like a sweet filling, maybe next time) and I drizzled the glaze over it. Thank you for this and your other wonderful recipes. I truly enjoy your blog. :)

  6. Robin says

    Fantastic article! Thanks! I hear all the time from kids in stores, “I want that” and then a tantrum is thrown if it doesn’t happen. I’ve worked in schools and, while I did see care and generosity exhibited, more needs to be done to help kids see outside their lives to those who have next to nothing…or, really, nothing.

  7. Estelle says

    Great recipe :-) Only made half the recipe since I was weary of it being dry from using coconut flour and the batter looking odd comparing to normal cake flour batter but it tastes great and they are soft and moist. Unfortunately I didn’t have vanilla beans and just increased the extract. Will try the beans next time. Thanks Carolyn!

  8. Marianna says

    Hi Carolyn! I made these last night and they turned out moist and delicious! Thanks so much for the recipe! Noticed the recipe calls for 1 tbsp baking powder, which I thought was probably a typo and I used 1 tsp baking powder instead. Just thought I’d check. Thanks again! =)

    • Carolyn says

      Definitely 1 tbsp. Low carb and gluten-free things need much more leavening agent to help them rise properly. Yours might be a bit denser than mine were!

  9. Lisa says

    Ha ha, I just made a batch and while they are yummy, were much more like muffins consistency than cupcakes. Then, I just read the comment where they read 1 tsp baking powder instead of 1 tbsp…and I did that same exact thing!!!! No wonder they are denser lol. I will definitely make them again, using the correct amount.

  10. Holli says

    These coconut flour cupcakes look so yummy but I am a splenda lover, can I use splenda in your recipes instead of any of the other sweeteners? I was going to try. I am so happy to find your website.

  11. Summer Larkin says

    Im making some GF cupcakes for a baby shower and was wondering if I could sub coconut milk for the almond? Wanting more of a coconut/vanilla flavor cupcake. May need to reduce the coconut milk a little, maybe?

    • Carolyn says

      Sure, go ahead and use coconut milk. What type? The canned has more fat in it and may change the consistency a little. The carton kind is about the same as almond.

  12. Holli says

    Would it work to use regular milk? And if you don’t use the stevia should you use more granulated sweetener? Love your websites, so many things to plan to make!

  13. Cassandra says

    So I am trying it out, it’s in the oven right now. I will let you know how it turns out. I also used coconut milk instead of almond milk because of nut allergies.

    • Cassandra says

      The cake was very dense. And perhaps it was my flour or using coconut milk instead of almond milk, but it didn’t taste like vanilla at all. It was coconut flavored, very strongly coconut flavored. It wasn’t dry, but it wasn’t a light fluffy cake either. It was closer to an undercooked cookie texture, IMO. It was not super sweet, but not all “regular” cakes are either. I noticed that not only did the coconut flour soak up the moisture like crazy, it also retained heat longer. I planned on an hour of cooling time, but it was still very warm to the touch after an hour at room temperature. So I stuck it in my freezer for 20 minutes, and that cooled it down enough for the icing (not this recipe) to not melt, but it was still warm. So if you have a very sensitive frosting and you are baking on a schedule, be warned. Even though it was not what I was hoping for, it was a sweet treat that was low carb to enjoy.

  14. Holli says

    These cupcakes were heavenly! Enjoyed them so much, going to make them for my mom’s birthday too. Thanks so much Carolyn for your work in these recipes. I had to change the recipe a little because of what I had on hand but they turned out good! I used vanilla extract instead and I did try regular milk and I increased the sweetener 1/4 more. I also used splenda just because that’s what I always have at my house but in the future I would like to try the swerve. I can’t wait to try more recipes. This was the first time I had cake in the longest time.

  15. Georgie says

    Oh you are truly wonderful I cannot wait to make these! Because I am dairy free do you think I could swap coconut oil for the butter?

    • Carolyn says

      Yes you could. 2 8-inch rounds or 1 9×13. I can’t be sure of the baking time, though so bake for 15 to 20 and then check every few minutes after that.

  16. Keri says

    So I know this is a cupcake recipe but any ideas on if this would be ok as an actual cake? If so, would it fill up a 8″ cake pan at all? Judging by it saying Serves 14 (guessing that means 14 cupcakes) I’d probably need to double the cake recipe to get enough to fill the pan. I was wanting to do a multi level cake and was trying to find something that would work thats keto friendly. Also, approx how much frosting does the recipe make? Just trying to decide if I need to double or quadruple it to make enough to cover a cake altogether.

    • Carolyn says

      I think it would make a great cake and I think that the batter would probably be enough as is for two 8-inch layers. But you would probably need to double the frosting at least!

  17. Ashley Chapman says

    Ok I’m beginning to feel like a failure!! Every recipe of yours that requires baking, I’ve messed up. I followed this recipe to the letter! I ended up with flat, dense hockey puck shaped cupcakes. I’m done! Not baking anymore low carb!

    • Carolyn says

      Well, why don’t you tell me a few things about it? Since I know it’s worked for most people, we can discuss it and maybe figure out what’s wrong. What brand of coconut flour and sweetener did you use?

      • Ashley Chapman says

        I used Bobs Red Mill coconut flour, swerve sweetener. I’m guessing it’s the Bobs Red Mill! Or maybe my eggs were too big? Idk. No bake cheesecakes for me for now on!

        • Carolyn says

          Nope it’s not the Bob’s because that is the only coconut flour I use. Very strange, I can’t figure that one out! How about your baking powder…any chance it was old and had no rising power any more?

          • Ashley Chapman says

            Yes that’s quite possible! I measured the last tbsp of the tin I had to make these. Good thing it’s gone now! Thanks for the brainstorming, I really appreciate it!

          • Carolyn says

            I can’t say for sure that’s it but it could be. I’ve used this recipe as the base for many other things and it’s never been dense and hockey-puck like so I think something you’re using has to be “off”.

  18. Anne says

    These were excellent! Not just in a not-going-to-send-my-blood-sugar-into-the-stratosphere-and-give-me-a-migraine way, but delicious enough for feeding to my workmates.
    Perceptibly coconut flavoured, but that’s a feature not a bug IMO.
    I’m now musing over a trifle using these as a base. Maybe peaches and a vanilla custard …

  19. Beth says

    Is the Swerve or erythritol in the cake granulated or powdered? Trying these as cake layer in a low carb chocolate and vanilla layer cake with mocha frosting for kiddo’s birthday. :)

  20. Neda says

    Can we use regular milk instead. Is it necessary to use 2 sweeteners? Stevia is already too sweet as it is alone. I don’t have Swerve Sweetener. Can i just use the stevia only? Or honey, maple syrup, date sugar?

  21. LeeAnn says

    I normally don’t add my two cents worth on here but I simply has to. This was amazing!!! Due to food sensitivities in my house, I made it dairy free by using coconut oil, and coconut cream. I also poured the batter into 2 8″ pans, and made a layered cake out of it for my birthday. It worked beautifully, and even converted some family members. Thank you SO much for the recipe. It is absolutely fantastic!!!

  22. Holli says

    I think this recipe is great. I am making it for my family with regular sugar. For me though I am trying to work with sugar free honey, sugar free syrup, and liquid Splenda, due to my health I am trying to stay away from granulated Splenda because of the maltodextrin. Do you think any of these sweeteners might work to replace the swerve? Does coconut ever work to replace sugar? I tried it in a recipe recently and it did not work too well. I am sorry I just can’t get used to swerve, wish I could. Do you have any ideas? I would appreciate your advice.

    • Carolyn says

      Any sweetener would work well in the cupcakes but you really will need a powdered confectioner’s style sweetener for the frosting. The only other way to make a decent frosting with non-bulk sweeteners is to do a cream cheese based one. The cream cheese will give the frosting structure. Still pretty tasty!


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