Wednesday, April 6, 2011

almond joy gluten free muffins (vegan too!)

The more I learn about almond flour, the more there is to love.  Most importantly, it tastes sweet and rich.  The richness comes from the beautiful healthy oils of the almond and it's quite high in protein and fiber.  If you are interested in exploring almond flour further, check out Elana Amsterdam's web site ( or her book 'the Gluten-Free Almond Flour cookbook'.  She has a lot to say about it.

I was looking around web for ideas when I came across a recipe for Banana Bread with an Almond Joy Twist at  I loved the idea of the Almond Joy combination (almonds, coconut, and chocolate) and thought it would be interesting to try with almond flour.  I took apart Jamie's recipe and put it back together, in the process removing the gluten and veganizing it (the bananas did not make the cut...). 

I was so fascinated last month reading the posts for the pancake ratio rally.  What a fun idea!  Because of my cookbook compulsion, I had purchased Michael Ruhlman's book (Ratio: The Simple Codes Behind the Craft of Everyday Cooking) when it was published...  but had not put it to use.  (note: see a link to this book in my I Love Cookbooks to the right...)

I got Ruhlman's book because I loved the idea of understanding the hidden mechanics underlying the process of how food happens.   However, all of his baking ratios are based on weight rather than volume measurements - this means using a scale to weigh the ingredients.  The idea of getting a scale and measuring by weight seemed unnecessarily complicated to me at the time. 

Then I'd gotten seriously side-tracked about a year ago when I had to start baking gluten-free, egg-free, and dairy-free because of David's newly discovered food sensitivities. 

Gluten-free baking has the best chance of success with a combination of flours & starches.  Different flours and starches having the same volume, may not have the same weight.  Because of moisture content and other factors, a specific weight in my kitchen may not be the same in yours - although the volume is the same.  I have had pretty good success baking gluten-free using the old measuring by volume - but now that I've gotten used to the scale - its seems easier then my Mother's way of measuring.  Plus fewer things to clean up.  The Gluten-Free Girl's says it all much better in her post 'why we don't use cups in our recipes'


(beautiful logo designed by Anile Prakash)

Welcome to the gluten free ratio rally, a monthly collaborative blog party!  To find all of the offerings in this month's collaboration focused on Quick Breads and Muffins - visit Silvana's Kitchen.

Please make a point of visiting all the g-free blogs participating in this month's Ratio Rally. You will no doubt make many new discoveries.  And also take time to visit  Silvana's Kitchen, who is our host this month - she has posted a round-up of the whole shee-bang.

Mrs. R of honey from flinty rocks made Lemon Lavender Muffins with Lavender Sugar
Alisha Austin of gfmostlyvegetarian made Sweet Potato Breakfast Loaf
Amanda Schaefer of Gluten Free Maui made Classic Banana, Oat, Pecan Bread
Amie Valpone of  The Healthy Apple made Gluten-Free Agave Apricot Quick Bread
Britt Hodges of GF In The City made Date & Walnut Bread
Brooke Lippy of Bell Wookie made Double Chocolate Cherry Muffin
Caleigh of Gluten Free[k] made Cardamom Banana Bread
Caroline Karasik of The G Spot Revolution made Orange Spice Bread with a Vanilla Glaze
Claire Berman of Gluten Freedom made Piña Colada Muffins with Coconut-Rum Glaze and Toasted Coconut
Danna Owens of Sweet Dees Gluten Free made Blood Orange Cardamom Muffins
Erin Block of Mysteries Internal made Strawberry Yogurt Muffins
Erin Swing of The Sensitive Epicure made Chocolate Chip Walnut Muffins with Streusel
Flo of Makanaibio made 2 Recettes de Muffins ou de Gateau Rapides
Gretchen of kumquat made Gingerbread Fig Loaf
Irvin of Eat The Love made Gluten Free Glazed Meyer Lemon Muffins filled with Slow Roasted Balsamic Red Wine Strawberry Jam
Jenn of Jenn Cuisine made Chestnut and Chocolate Quickbread
Karen Robertson of Cooking Gluten Free made Muffins
Kate Brabon of Kate Alice Cookbook made Raspberry Banana Crumble-Top Muffins
Kate Chan of Gluten Free Gobsmacked made Mocha + Chocolate Chip Muffins/Quickbread
Lauren McMillan of Celiac Teen made Cocoa Quickbread
Lisa of Gluten Free Canteen made Almond Cherry Berry Banana Muffins, Gluten Free
Lisa of With Style and Grace made Rosemary Lemon Quick Bread
Marla Meridith of Family Fresh Cooking made Strawberry Snack Cakes
Mary Frances of Gluten Free Cooking School made Cranberry Orange Bread with Cream Cheese Icing
Meaghan Cassidy of The Wicked Good Vegan made Vegan Gluten-Free Apricot-Orange Bread
Nannette Minley of Nannette Raw made Chai Muffins
Robyn of Chocswirl made Brown Butter Apple Spice Muffins with Pecan Nut Streusel
Shauna of Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef made Lemon Poppyseed Bread with Ginger Glaze
Silvana of Silvana's Kitchen made Chocolate-Coated Marshmallow-Topped Vanilla Cupcakes
Danna at Sweet Dees Gluten Free made Blood Orange Cardamom Muffins
Tara of A Baking Life made Carmelized Banana Bread with Pecan Streusel
Wendy Kirby of La Phemme Phoodie made Cheesy Apple Butter Bread with Garlic Powder
Winnie Abramson of Healthy Green Kitchen made Brown Butter Banana Bread

... back to the scale. 

Just a week before reading about the pancake rally, I had purchased an OXO scale because I wanted to try a recipe for gluten-free pizza crust which was in ounces.  See my lovely OXO scale above (note:  I read many many reviews of several different scales on amazon - the OXO had the best reviews and more of them). 

So, I was excited that the ratio rally was happening at the exact moment that I felt ready (emotionally ready and hardware ready).
Here’s the quick bread / muffin ratio from Ruhlman’s book  (2 parts flour, 2 parts liquid, 1 part egg, 1 part fat).  Which for my purposes here translates roughly to the following:

8 oz flour
4 oz sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon baking powder
8 oz milk
4 oz eggs (2 large)
4 oz butter, melted

So, here's my recipe for:

Almond Joy Muffins - gluten-free, sugar-free & vegan
(inspired by Jamie at

Flax Meal Slurry (sub for 2 eggs):
4 tablespoons golden flax meal
6 tablespoons coconut milk

Dry Ingredients:
4 oz blanched almond flour (finely ground)
2 oz tapioca flour
2 oz quinoa flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoon baking soda

Wet Ingredients:
4 oz coconut oil, melted (or olive oil)
4 oz agave
4 oz flax meal slurry    
1 teaspoon vanilla
8 oz coconut milk, warmed to room temperature
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

½ cup bittersweet chocolate, shaved (or dark chocolate chips)
½ cup unsweetened coconut
1/2 cup chopped sliced almonds

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a standard muffin tin with 12 muffin papers. 

Mix golden flax meal and 6 tablespoons coconut milk with a fork to make the slurry.  This mixture needs to sit for a few minutes to thicken.

Whisk together all dry ingredients in a medium sized bowl. 

In a larger bowl, combine oil (the coconut oil needs to be mostly liquid to measure - I just warm up the jar in the microwave) and agave with a whisk, add 4 oz of the flax meal slurry.  Add vanilla and coconut milk (the coconut oil will begin to solidify as it comes in contact with the cold coconut oil – it will work just fine as long as the clumps of coconut oil are small - to avoid this issue, warm the coconut milk slightly)  Add vinegar.  Whisk vigorously to blend the wet ingredients completely. 

Add the dry mixture to the wet mixture in 3 additions, mixing well after each.  Gently fold in chocolate chips, coconut, and almonds.

Do not let this batter sit around, the vinegar will immediately start to react with baking soda causing bubbles - which is exactly what you want, but you will want it to be in the oven as its doing so.

Distribute batter evenly among the 12 muffin cups (the cups will be full to the top - don't worry about that, the batter will rise a bit, but not much).  Bake about 30 minutes, rotating the pan halfway thru (in my oven, these muffins bake exactly 30 minutes).  Bake until muffins are deeply golden brown (almond flour batters brown beautifully!) and a toothpick comes out clean.  Allow to cool in the pan for 5 - 10 minutes before removing (carefully) to a wire rack to cool.

confession:  I originally intended this as a loaf, which I tried, but the high percentage of almond flour meant the cooked full-sized loaf was a bit fragile, especially warm - so the whole loaf fell apart!  We ate it anyway, just breaking off big chunks - because it was so good!  If you try this recipe as a loaf, be sure to let it cool, before attempting the de-pan maneuver.  If allowed to cool to room temperature, the coconut oil will hold the whole loaf together.  If you have mini-loaf pans, that would be fun also.

- substitute butter (room temperature) for the coconut oil
- substitute 2 eggs for the flax meal slurry
- substitute any other non-dairy milk for the coconut milk (wouldn't almond milk be nice?)
- if you like the original idea of banana - substitute mashed banana for flax meal slurry
- for the tapioca flour, you can substitute arrowroot, cornstarch, or potato starch
- for the quinoa flour, substitute millet or sorghum flour
- substitute honey or maple syrup for the agave


  1. Mmmm, love almond joy flavors!

  2. I'm becoming a fan of coconut milk and coconut oil - what a great combination!

  3. oh this is such a great set of flavors, almond joy indeed!

  4. You had me at the 'Almond Joy' wow! What a cute idea; love these muffins as I'm a huge fan of anything almond joy and can't wait to make these. Great to find another tasty food blogger and so happy to be a part of this rally with you!

  5. Hi, I'm curious about why moisture variations in a particular flour changes the volume but not the weight. Seems to me that it would be the other way around. If you started with a cup of totally dry flour (if that were possible to achieve) and added moisture (via humidity in the kitchen, for example) the flour would have to weigh more! It doesn't make sense to me from a chemistry standpoint.

    Regardless, this flavor combination sounds really good. I'm going to try it this weekend (but I'll translate the weights into rough volumes first!). Thanks for the great flavor idea.


  6. Hi Martine - you're right, the moisture in dry ingredients changes the weight. So, measuring by volume can sometimes cause problems. Also, different flours have different weight. So, if in the recipe above you wanted to swap out one of the flours for millet or brown rice flour - it would still work perfectly for you. Did you take a look at Shauna's link at the Gluten-Free Girl (there is a link to it above)? She explains it in more detail then I have. If you try the recipe - please let me know how it worked for you. Blessings, melanie

  7. What a great muffin! I love the idea of converting Almond Joys into a muffin! Love it! And isn't baking with a scale marvelous? I can't imagine baking with out it. I get way more consistent results.

    One suggestion I might make if you want to make a loaf. Often times the loaf gets a little hard to take out of the pan once it's cooled. I usually line the pan with a a piece of parchment paper. I spray the pan with cooking spray and then put the paper in (the cooking spray helps hold the paper in place) and I make sure that there is a couple of inches of paper hanging out over the edges of the pan. Then, after it's cooled, I can just grab the paper edges and lift it directly out. No more digging the loaf out of the pan.

    Anyway, welcome to the GF Ratio Rally! I'm so glad you joined us!

  8. Melanie, these look amazing. What a great idea!

  9. I have been on an almond-and-coconut kick lately, and your muffins strike just the right cord with me! I also love that you offer so many substitution ideas. Welcome to the Rally!

  10. Hey Melanie! I just read your comment on my post, zipped over to yours, and realized I've visited before and I think I even commented! Anyway, I just love your creation! Joy, Joy! I'll be back for sure...

  11. Hi Melanie, thanks for your response to my comment. The point I tried to make above was this: a given amount by weight (say 100 gms) of a moist flour will actually have less flour in it, by dry weight. So, measuring flour by weight is in fact inaccurate to the extent of its moisture content. I have no idea how much moisture a canister of flour will pick up sitting on a kitchen counter. Maybe it's not enough to make a difference in the outcome of a recipe. That would be an interesting experiment to try, but the point is that a given amount of moist flour is heavier than the same amount of dry flour. Consequently, if I weigh out 100 gms of a moist flour for a recipe, I will be putting in less flour than actually called for. Does that make sense?

    I have actually read Shauna Ahern's post on weights vs. volume measurements, and I'm not convinced! I've found in my 10 years of gluten free baking that there are a lot of variables that affect the outcome of a recipe. Gluten free flours have very different qualities beyond their flavor, including how much moisture they hold, the size of their molecules, how they interact with other ingredients, such that substituting one flour for another by weight is not necessarily guaranteed to yield stellar results.

    In any case, I still plan to use your Almond Joy flavor combo as soon as I can! And I will let you know how they turn out. Thanks for the idea!


  12. Hello, Melanie!

    Thank you for being my first supporter. This really means a lot.

    I food one love your food blog, and hope you don't mind putting your link up on mine.


    Your photos are phenomenal by the way... and your recipes look tasty.

  13. I have been loving getting to know new to me bloggers. :) This looks fabulous, and I am going to try it out for myself as I never know what is going to be a hit with my monkey.

  14. Hi
    This looks like a great recipe and I want to try it...I'd like to ask a question, though: The recipe calls for Coconut Milk. Does this mean the canned stuff used in Thai cooking, or the carton stuff used as a milk substitute on breakfast cereal, etc...? They are so different I think it will mess up the recipe if I use the wrong one....Thanks for any advice!