If you’re gluten-free, all hope is not lost; you can still bake! We know what you’re thinking, we too have tried many a gluten-free cookie that has left tears in our eyes. Not the happy kind. So, we decided to embark on a little non-glutenous goodie research and came across a cookie that left our discerning cookie palettes in pure bliss: Coco Bakes. And, oh yes, she can.
Coco is a baker from childhood. Her passion for baking led her to an education at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris and, afterward, time in the kitchens of some of our favorite LA spots (Huckleberry!). When her own health concerns caused her to turn to a gluten and dairy-free diet, she was determined not to let it slow her down. Gluten-free cookie lovers everywhere are going to be so grateful that she powered through!
We spent a cozy afternoon in the kitchen with Coco watching her bake up a storm and exploring her gluten-free pantheon of a pantry. Gathering carrots from the garden and free-range eggs from the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market, we watched as Coco whipped up these carrot apple cakes (recipe below). We’re officially obsessed with her Double Chocolate Walnut cookies, but if you want to bake something at home this weekend, these sweet little cakes are your next best bet! Here’s Coco…
Your food philosophy:
I love my body and I love food. Recently, I’ve begun to listen to what it wants and needs. I think that the right food is made with love and intention. Eating should be a celebration of the work that was put into creating the meal, by everyone who was involved in the process.
Why you went gluten-free:
Once I committed to going dairy free, I realized that my food options at work were limited. I began eating a lot of bread, and around that time I started having bad stomach aches, sleeping late and waking up groggy. It got so bad that I stopped eating almost all together. I figured I should flush my system, so I started a Pressed Juice Cleanse, intending for it to only last 3 days (it lasted 5). I think bread was the first thing I ate, and that was it. I don’t think I’ve eaten gluten since (unless it’s in the cornstarch Chinese restaurants use).
In your garden:
Technically my mother’s garden, I just reap the benefits. She’s growing large cucumbers, habaneros, poblanos, kale for days, tomatoes, carrots, broccoli, kabocha squash, pumpkins, plenty of herbs, and our fruit trees are in blossom with pomegranates, citrus and avocados.
Fave ingredient to cook with:
I love thyme. It’s a flavor that works so well in almost anything and it reminds me of home.
Gluten-free baking tip:
Almond meal soaks up more moisture than regular flour, so adjust your liquid accordingly.
Hardest quality or dish to create without gluten:
I don’t have a hard time creating gluten-free foods because the flour combination I use is great. I will say that creating English muffins without dairy was difficult.
Best thing you make:
Gluten-free, dairy-free, refined-sugar-free (with the exception of the chocolate I use in it) pudding with a red wine reduction.
3 pantry must-haves:
Avocados from the Santa Monica Farmers Market, popcorn from the ladies at Tierra Vegetables and Coco Bakes granola.
My kitchen persona developed in Paris and matured at Huckleberry. I’ll listen to anything that I can dance and sing to. Bruce Springsteen, Taylor Swift, Amy Winehouse, Miranda Lambert, Blondie Radio and Motown Radio on Pandora. And I’m not opposed to Alanis Morissette at 4 a.m.
In my fridge:
Peanut butter, almond milk, tahini, dates, Coco Bakes chocolate pudding, corn tortillas, preserved lemons, lots and lots of fruits and vegetables, 72+% dark chocolate.
Gluten-free product you love:
Trader Joe’s almond meal.
My recipe for carrot apple harvest cake below. It’s one of two cakes I offer on my site right now, the other is a cardamom citrus cake.
Coco’s Carrot Apple Harvest Cake
6 oz grapeseed oil
3/4 cup + 1/8 cup sugar
3/4 tsp salt
zest of one orange
1 3/4 cups almond meal
1/4 cup gluten-free oat flour (this can be made by pulverizing gluten-free oats in a Cuisinart)
3/4 tsp nutmeg
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup oats (gluten-free)
1/2 cup apple (make sure to wring it out well)
3/4 cups grated carrot
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
In a bowl, whisk together the oil, sugar, salt and orange zest. Mix in the eggs until emulsified. Next, add in the flours, baking soda, baking powder and spices, and stir until just incorporated. Don’t forget to scrape the sides. With a wooden spoon, mix in the carrots, apple and walnuts.
Divide into 10 mini cake tins (3 1/2 x 1 1/2 inches). Bake at 330 degrees for about 26 minutes.
Tip: The best way to tell if a cake is finished is to touch the middle. If the cake springs back when pushed gently, then it is done.