Turns out, the way I feel about coconut flour is pretty much the same way I feel about self-employment.
I mean, they both are kind of hard to get, in terms of effort and costs: about $6 per 16-ounce bag of coconut flour online; a variety of part-time freelancing gigs, two years of grad school and three years in a management-level desk job for the chance to work from home.
Compared with the costs, they both have a lot to offer in return: where self-employment promises to let you set your own schedule and own your life again, coconut flour is packed with protein, totally gluten-free and lightly kissed with the scent of the tropics.
But they’re both also easily misunderstood. When I tell people I own my own writing business, for example, they imagine me sleeping in ’til 10, watching TV while I work, having all the time in the world to do whatever I want, in contrast to the not-so-glamorous reality that I sometimes finish projects at 11 PM, spend unfruitful hours traveling to meet potential clients, have a hard time knowing when I will get paid for work I’ve done.
Don’t get me wrong: this is not to say self-employment isn’t worth it, but rather that it’s not magical, not a cure-all, not the thing that will solve all other problems. I spend a lot of time these days learning and researching what exactly self-employment should be like, whether through ideas for staying more focused (thanks for the tip, Kim!) or meaningful talks on productivity. It’s good, but it’s not easy, and it takes time to get a handle on.
So it is with coconut flour. Like the way I quoted too-low rates to some initial clients for work, I made too many substitutions to a new recipe with this ingredient. Its inaugural use in my kitchen was a bread-cake with the texture of cornmeal and the faint flavors of coconut. Part sandwich bread and part sweet cake, it was like a dessert with an identity crisis—kind of like a girl who’s part writer and part negotiator, but I digress.
Thankfully, experience is the best teacher (let’s hope in all cases!), and the next recipe I tried with this ingredient went much better. Based off a post from Jamie Oliver, these cookies are both dense and fluffy, which are terms I don’t believe I’ve ever used for a cookie before. Made with four eggs and equal parts coconut flour and sweetener, they’re rich yet not overpowering. Just before baking, the slightly sweet dough gets rolled in cinnamon and sugar, creating a great, spiced edge when you bite inside. And most interestingly of all, they’re quite good for you, with no gluten, loads of fiber and plenty of protein. I won’t say they’re magical, but I will say they’re a step in the right direction, and that? That’s all I really need right now anyway.
Coconut Flour Cookies
Adapted from Jamie Oliver
3/4 cup sucanat
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup butter (room temp)
1/4 cup coconut oil
3/4 cup coconut flour
2 tablespoons raw sugar
2 tablespoons cinnamon
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In a medium-sized bowl, beat the sucanat, eggs, vanilla, salt, coconut oil and butter together. Then add the flour and mix well. Let mixture sit for 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, mix together the cinnamon & sugar in a bowl.
Using a spoon or a small melon baller or, what I did, your hands, scoop up some of the dough, form it into a ball and roll it in the cinnamon-sugar mixture. Put on a parchment paper and flatten lightly with a fork if you like. I made mine pretty small, and that gave me around 20 cookies.
Bake for 15 minutes.