Lemon-Coconut Brownies (grain free)

As I continue my venture into gluten-and-grain free cooking, as well as avoiding refined sugars, I have been using more coconut products in my baked goods–the oil is great for flaky scones, for instance, and the flour makes a good substitute for grain-based flours.  Tropical Traditions recently sent me a sample of their Virgin Coconut Oil for review, and I decided to capitalize on the coconut flavor to make these citrusy, coconut brownie bars.

I made a few batches before I was completely happy with the flavor and texture, and ended up with something I am really happy with–I used a blend of honey and stevia to sweeten these, so they are not sugar free, but are low in sugar (particularly for a bar cookie).  The result is really moist, dense, and lemony, and the downside is that you will want to eat the whole pan.  The combination of coconut oil, flour, milk, and toasted coconut adds some rich flavor.

Some notes on this recipe: coconut flour is made from defatted coconut, and the level of fat left in the flour varies from brand to brand.  Because of this, some brands will absorb more moisture than others, so while I used 1/2 cup of coconut milk in my recipe (using different brands of flour for each batch), you may need a little more or a little less. Erring on the side of too-thin batter is not a disaster, it just makes the bars less stable/more crumbly.

Lemon-Coconut Brownies (grain free)
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert, Grain Free
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 16
 
Ingredients
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup Virgin Coconut Oil
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons grated fresh lemon zest
  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 5 packets dry stevia extract
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes, lightly toasted
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a medium, microwave-safe mixing bowl, heat the honey and coconut oil for about a minute, or until the oil is liquid. Stir in the lemon juice and vanilla, and then whisk in the eggs and lemon zest.
  2. In a small bowl, stir together the coconut flour, sea salt, stevia, and baking powder until well combined. Stir this into the coconut oil mixture. After a couple of minutes this is going to get very thick, as the coconut flour absorbs the moisture. At this point, stir in enough of the coconut milk to have the consistency of thick pancake batter (start with a 1/4 cup and see if you need to add more).
  3. Spray an 8 by 8 inch baking pan with cooking spray, and spoon in the batter. Top with the toasted coconut, and bake for 35-45 minutes, or until the center feels "set" when you lightly press down with your finger. Remove and cool completely before cutting (if they are still warm, they will fall apart).
  4. Note: I made these in a 6 by 10 inch pan, as well an 8 by 8--since the latter is more common, that is the size I called for, but the other pan worked well.

To toast the coconut, place it in a dry skillet and heat over medium, stirring frequently, until it just starts to brown.  Remove from heat and cool.  You may skip this step, but it adds nice flavor and color.

Pretty delicious, and great for grain free, vegan, and primal diets.  Also great for people who eat anything…

Disclosure: Tropical Traditions provided product for review, but I was under no obligation to post any review, positive or negative, and all opinions are my own, and genuine.  This recipe, for instance, is (in my honest opinion) extremely tasty.  I hope you enjoy.

Thanks for reading,

-Angela

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27 Responses to Lemon-Coconut Brownies (grain free)

  1. Andi October 17, 2012 at 12:00 am #

    These look spectacular! I’m going to try them for a potluck this weekend.

    • Angela October 17, 2012 at 10:17 am #

      I hope you enjoy! Make sure they are really cool before you cut them–refrigerating them holds them together well.

  2. Jersey Girl Cooks October 18, 2012 at 3:26 pm #

    They look very yummy! I am not a big chocolate person so I would prefer these over regular brownies.

    • Angela October 19, 2012 at 4:11 pm #

      I love lemon desserts–I will take lemon over chocolate any day!

  3. Laura Dembowski October 19, 2012 at 1:40 pm #

    Those look great! I love coconut anything. It’s great you’re trying to do grain and sugar free baking. I don’t think that’s something I would be very good at.

    • Angela October 19, 2012 at 4:11 pm #

      It’s a learning curve, but I think I am figuring it out. Coconut flour requires a lot more liquid.

  4. Andrea October 19, 2012 at 8:11 pm #

    These look so refreshing! I can’t wait to try them.

  5. Terri December 8, 2012 at 11:48 am #

    How much stevia is in packet? I have a bottle of it.

    Thanks!

    • Angela December 8, 2012 at 12:48 pm #

      Terri, it varies a bit according to the brand, but my general ratio is that 3 packets of dry stevia would be about 20 drops of liquid (about a dropper full). It isn’t well standardized from brand to brand, so I need to figure out a better way to explain this in recipes! Using a little more or less will not hurt the recipe.

  6. Grace January 5, 2013 at 1:47 pm #

    I tried making these exactly as the recipe called and instead of getting a cakey like texture i got a rubbery almost jello or custard like texture.
    Do you have an idea to why this happened?
    When i was finished making the batter, it seemed a bit thin so i added a tablespoon more of coconut flour and a tiny more sugar just to adjust the flavor. I used sugar instead of stevia, that was the only thing i did differently. I love the idea of this recipe but i wasn’t really satisfied with the finished thing. where did i go wrong?

    • Angela January 5, 2013 at 4:47 pm #

      Grace, how much sugar did you use, and did you also use honey? Sugar is actually a “liquid” ingredient when you bake, so it does change the final product. The other factors are that coconut flour brands vary, and some soak up more moisture than others, so you should try to base it on the texture of the batter. I have never tried to make these with white sugar so I cannot tell you how to adjust that, but try for a texture that is like thick pancake batter, and if the end texture was too wet, try adding a little more coconut flour, wait a few minutes to let it absorb, stir and see if you have the texture you want. The other issue with adding in additional amounts is that you might have to bake them longer, as it creates a thicker bar, so keep that in mind as they bake. I hope this helps!

      • Grace January 5, 2013 at 8:18 pm #

        I used maybe a tablespoon or 2 of cane sugar.
        If the eggs were a bit too cold, could that have made the difference?
        Thanks

        • Angela January 5, 2013 at 8:23 pm #

          I don’t think the egg temp should matter–so you used the sugar and the honey, or just the sugar? What size baking pan?

          • Grace January 6, 2013 at 9:59 am #

            I used the honey and the sugar…just the extra 2 tablespoons of sugar.
            I used an 8×12 pan.

          • Angela January 6, 2013 at 1:04 pm #

            Well I really don’t think that amount of sugar should changed it that much, so if you try again I would go for thicker batter (more coconut flour–but add a little at a time and wait for it to soak up the moisture before adding more). The finished recipe is very moist, so it may be that were expecting something more cake-y in texture. If you use nut flours, you might get the texture you are after by using about a half of a cup of almond flour and just a couple of tablespoons of coconut flour.

  7. Erin March 14, 2013 at 2:28 pm #

    I don’t use Stevia- how much honey should I add? Looking forward to trying these!

    • Angela March 14, 2013 at 4:45 pm #

      Erin, I would increase the honey by 2 to 3 tablespoons, depending on how you like things. It should still work well.

      • Erin March 22, 2013 at 6:16 am #

        Thanks! I’ll let you know how they come out!

  8. Laura November 1, 2013 at 1:22 pm #

    These are absolutely amazing! Anyone will enjoy, grain free or not :)

    • Laura November 1, 2013 at 1:22 pm #

      Also, I omitted the stevia and added just a little bit more honey. Worked out great.

    • Angela November 1, 2013 at 1:53 pm #

      So glad you liked them!

  9. Ellen April 18, 2014 at 9:05 pm #

    These are in the oven now — the batter tasted amazing! And now, out of the oven, they are just as wonderful as I expected. I decided to flip the pan over before it was completely cool and they did crumble, like you said : ) Thanks for giving such clear and tested instructions for this delicious recipe. Even at high altitude, for which I made no adjustments, I am very impressed with the results!

    • Angela April 18, 2014 at 9:28 pm #

      Ellen, thank you so much for this wonderful note! I’m so glad you liked the recipe, and you made my day.

  10. cj May 22, 2014 at 7:23 pm #

    Hi – any suggestions for an egg substitute? I am baking these for a family member who is vegan. All others are paleo and one is diabetic. I am guessing using all stevia and no honey will not cut it so I think swapping out the eggs is most important. Thank you.

    • Angela May 22, 2014 at 7:40 pm #

      Hi CJ: You could swap out agave for honey if you do agave (it isn’t paleo, technically), but the eggs are more challenging because they provide the stability from their binding power, and with coconut flour that is pretty important. Since arrowroot starch binds a bit you might be able to swap out the eggs with 1/3 to 1/2 cup of arrowroot starch (which is paleo) along with 1/2 to 3/4 cup of water. I would make sure that you chill them really well before you cut them. I haven’t tried it, but I know that some vegans swap out one tablespoon of ground flax mixed with three tablespoons for one egg. That might also work.

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