Coconut Cake with Vanilla Bean Frosting

May 11, 2015
Coconut Cake with Vanilla Bean Frosting - A coconut cake that's vegan .. and made without refined white flour or sugar. It's incredibly decadent and delicious.

“Yes, Mother. I can see you are flawed.  You have not hidden it.  That is your greatest gift to me”    ~ Alice Walker

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This past weekend, everywhere I went it seemed, I was reminded of all the beautiful women in my life, and what incredible examples they are of a life lived well.

A wine and appetizer party at our neighbors. The perfect kind of evening, if there ever was one.  A night with windows and the patio door open, it was nice to sit outside with a glass of wine watching the birds, and enjoying everyone's company.  Conversations flowed between the joys of spring, lacing up our sneakers, the pets we love, and what everybody was planting in their gardens.

The hostess was a professor who's looking forward to retirement in just a few short weeks.  I always love invitations to their parties,  the mix of people as diverse as you'll ever find.  This past event didn't disappoint, with many of the attendees being colleagues,  with backgrounds from all over the world.

As I listen to stories from their home countries, I can't help but think how brave they are.  The courage it must have taken to step outside of their comfort zones.  Not only did they leave for the U.S. when they were young, but then spent years working toward their educations (most at a Ph.D. level).  From there, they wound their way through the maze of green cards and citizenship.  All while building careers, and raising families

It's staggering when I step back and think about it.  What it must have taken to define and redefine themselves in every way.  The release of judgment, the embrace uncertainty, and truly thriving amongst the challenges of both.

Coconut Cake with Vanilla Bean Frosting - A coconut cake that's vegan .. and made without refined white flour or sugar. It's incredibly decadent and delicious.

“Biology is the least of what makes someone a Mother”    ~ Oprah Winfrey

Sunday morning, we celebrated Mother's day over brunch with my parents, and aunt who'd come to visit for the weekend.

I love to watch my mom and aunt together, two sisters with a synergy more beautiful than words could ever describe.  Like many of the professors at the previous night's party, their growing-up years were spent overseas, in Ethiopia, while their parents were missionaries.

I look at photos from a time gone by, think of their lives, and admire how they've leaned on, and into each other for support through marriage, death, kids, and careers.

This past weekend, with all of its pulls to be outside, their relationship a beautiful reminder that if anyone can use a gentle nudge to break the mold, it's the woman.  It's the mothers and daughters, nurtures, and caretakers.

The weary but resilient, sensitive, but strong.

“I remember my mother's prayers, and they have always followed me.  They have clung to me all my life”   ~ Abraham Lincoln

In between wine parties and brunch, I spent some time kickboxing at the gym.

I couldn't help but overhear conversations filled with excitement for graduation ceremonies that afternoon, weekend grill-outs with friends, an update on her first triathlon(!) and  ideas for ways to season their favorite veggies

For the past couple of weeks, I've been writing a tribute to my Mom silently in my head.  Though we don't share biology, I couldn't have asked for a more beautiful spirit to have in my life, acting as a guide for the past thirty years.

One of the many things she's taught me is that being a mother is so much more than the definitions offered by the world.  So as I write about Mother's Day, I can't help but follow her lead and think not just of her, but also of all of the amazing, talented women I know and love.

Coconut Cake with Vanilla Bean Frosting - A coconut cake that's vegan .. and made without refined white flour or sugar. It's incredibly decadent and delicious.

“I tell my kids ‘I am thinking about you every other minute of my day”   ~ Michelle Obama

I pay them tribute as well because, at the end of the day, she couldn't be more right.  True mothering has nothing to do with biology.  Instead, we're simply women trying our best, with laugh lines, cuffed jeans, lunch dates, and hot flashes.  We mother our children, friends, colleagues, pets, and sometimes our even parents.

So whether you're chasing toddlers, making breakfast for your husband, caring for a friend in need, cutting veggies, playing with puppies, swimming laps, launching businesses, making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, or traveling the world

you're a mother.

Maybe you're single or married or childless, or “it's complicated.”   You've birthed something beautiful, perhaps within yourself, or perhaps to share with others.


“It's not until you become a mother that your judgment slowly turns to compassion and understanding”   ~ Erma Bombeck 

It's always fun to experiment with new recipes when we're invited to parties, like this past weekend at our neighbor's.  I love the challenge of experimenting with healthier versions of more traditional favorites.

This coconut cake from Amy Chaplin is by far one of the best recipes I've found.  Vegan, and made without refined white flour or sugar.  It's incredibly decadent and delicious.

Amy makes hers as a layer cake, filled with red berry filling; which I have no doubt is incredible.

For the weekend, cupcakes and mini cakes seemed to fit the bill instead.  Whatever you do, if the cake isn't for you, I'd bookmark the recipe for the vanilla bean frosting alone.  My goodness, it will be finding its way to many sweet treats in the future



ps:  If you'd like to make the cake into layers with berry filling, be sure to follow the adapted from link to Amy's original recipe

— — —

~ Adapted from Amy Chaplin

Coconut Cake with Vanilla Bean Frosting


  • Vanilla Bean Frosting
  • 3 cans coconut milk
  • ½ cup agar flakes
  • pinch sea salt
  • 6 Tbsp maple syrup
  • ¼ cup brown rice syrup
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 1 ½ Tbsp arrowroot powder
  • 2 Tbsp filtered water
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract

  • Coconut Cake
  • 3 ½ cups spelt flour
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1 ½ tsp baking soda
  • 2 ½ cups unsweetened shredded coconut, divided
  • 1 ½ cups maple syrup
  • 1 ½ cups water
  • ¾ cup olive oil
  • 1 ½ Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract


  • Vanilla Bean Frosting
  • Place coconut milk, agar flakes, salt, agave syrup and rice syrup in a medium-size saucepan.
  • Cut the vanilla bean in half lengthways and remove seeds using the tip of a small knife. Place seeds and pod into a saucepan.
  • Whisk everything together, place over high heat and bring to a boil, whisking every minute or so.
  • Lower heat, cover and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes or until agar flakes have completely dissolved.
  • In a small bowl, mix the arrowroot powder with water and slowly pour into the coconut mix, whisking constantly.
  • Raise heat and continue whisking until mixture begins to boil again. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract.
  • Pour into a baking dish or bowl, once it has stopped steaming place in the fridge and chill until completely set, about 2 hours.
  • The mixture will be hard, use a metal spoon to scoop into a food processor and blend until completely smooth. Scrape down the sides and blend again.
  • Place frosting in a container and chill for at least an hour or better still overnight.

  • Coconut Cake
  • Preheat oven to 350° F and prepare cupcake tins
  • Sift flour, baking powder, and baking soda into a medium-size mixing bowl.
  • Blend 2 cups of the coconut in a food processor until fine.
  • Add to flour mixture along with remaining ½ cup of coconut. Use a whisk to stir, making sure everything is combined, set aside.
  • In another bowl whisk together the maple syrup, water, olive oil, vinegar, salt, and vanilla until emulsified.
  • Pour into the flour mixture and use the whisk to gently stir everything together. (Be careful not to over mix over mix)
  • Use a rubber spatula to scrape the sides and to check if there are dry lumps of flour on the bottom of the bowl.
  • Divide mixture between the cupcake tins (Should make about 24 cupcakes) Place in the oven and bake for 20 to 22 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. The cupcakes should be a deep golden color.
  • Remove from oven and allow to cool completely
Serves: 24
Nutrition + Show
Calories 295
Total Fat 16.7g
Saturated Fat 9.5g
Carbohydrates 35g
Fiber 3.3g
Sugars 19.3g
Protein 3.63g
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  • Reply June May 12, 2015 at 3:29 am

    What an adorable cake! Love that it is vegan too 🙂

    • Reply sexyveggie May 13, 2015 at 3:19 am

      Thank-you so much June!

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