Mocha cupcakes






Wheat-free does not mean tasteless or boring. I had one of these mocha cupcakes for breakfast–it was delicious and filling. Even my picky wife liked it, gobbling up one of them in the photo!

Makes about 8 cupcakes.

1 1/2 cups ground almonds
3 tablespoons instant coffee powder or crystals
3 tablespoons cocoa powder (unsweetened; preferably undutched)
1 teaspoon baking soda
Sweetener equivalent to 1/2 cup sugar (e.g., 3 1/2 tablespoons Truvia)
1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) butter, melted (can be replaced with coconut oil, melted)
2 large eggs
3 tablespoons coconut milk
1 cup heavy whipping cream or (unsweetened; no high-fructose corn syrup) ready-made whipped cream
Cocoa powder or dark chocolate shavings for sprinkling on top

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F. Place cupcake paper liners into muffin pan.

Mix ground almonds, instant coffee powder, cocoa, baking soda, and sweetener in bowl. Stir in melted butter or coconut oil, eggs, and coconut milk. Add more coconut milk, if necessary, one tablespoon at a time to obtain a thick but stir-able consistency.

Pour mix into cupcake liners about 2/3 full. Bake for 25-30 minutes until toothpick withdraws dry. Allow to cool at least 30 minutes.

Whip cream or use ready-made whip cream and spread on top of each cupcake. Sprinkle cocoa powder or dark chocolate shavings on top.

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Comments & Feedback...

  1. Yvonne M

    So when you say 1-1/2 cups of ground almonds – do you mean almond meal? Like I buy blanched almond meal (makes baked things more tender), so I’d just sub 1-1/2 cups of that?


    • Hi, Yvonnne–

      Yes, you can use the flour made from blanched almonds. However, although it does not yield as light an end-product, I prefer the almond meal ground from whole, raw almonds, since the fiber content is fully preserved. I’d rather have a slightly coarser texture but obtain a modest fiber health benefit.

  2. kathy scott

    Sounds amazing, have you ever tried substituting with coconut flour mixed with almond flour? Its works really well. Check out elanas pantry for some incredible recipes!

    • christy kennedy

      My daughter and I have been using various combinations of almond meal and coconut flour but she just made the best gluten-free, and now grain-free pumpkin bread ever, using garbanzo flour. Just subbed it for the flour in a Betty Crocker recipe.

    • Yes, Kathy, I like coconut flour a lot for recipes!

      Elana Amsterdam is a great source of ideas. However, be careful with her advice to use agave as a sweetener. Despite its low glycemic index, the 90% fructose content of agave make it the most destructive sweetener available, far worse than even high-fructose corn syrup.

      I also do not agree with the use of blanched almond flour; though it provides a lighter texture, you are missing out on the great fiber content of nuts.

    • Truvia is among the more benign sweeteners, along with liquid stevia, erythritol, and xylitol.

      Truvia is erythritol and rebiana, an isolate of stevia. I don’t like the company manufacturing it, but it is a pretty good product despite this.

      • PJ

        I’m so glad to hear you say this about “the company”. I’ve never purchased Truvia because I think that company is despicable. I’ve stuck with stevia and have found some brands of pure stevia extract that are not bitter.

        • Juliane


          Please share what stevia brands you have found to be non-bitter. So far I have only found NuStevia. They come in 1 gram envelopes. I use it for coffee, tea or lemonades. I would like to find a good nonbitter stevia that I can scoop from for recipes like this.

          • I’ve had good results with Truvia, which is erythritol with rebiana, an isolate of stevia.

            If you don’t like Truvia, you can try erythritol by itself, or xylitol.

        • Kim Harper

          PJ, rejoicing with you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
          I have used “Stevia” for about 9 years. Anything that finally showed up in the center aisles called “Truvia” I have avoided like the plague, to me that says that the FDA finally got their grubby little hands on it. I still to the Organic section and to the “true” Stevia.

  3. Paula Wyss

    What do you use to grind your almonds to the best consistancy for using in recipes or is it sold in bulk? If so where do I find? I agree with keeping the fiber content. Thanks!

    • Hi, Paula–

      As Judith points out, Trader Joes has a very reasonably priced almond meal. In Milwaukee, you can also get it at a great price at a chain called Woodmans, where it runs about 70% less than the other stores. It really pays to shop around.

    • Jim C.

      Here is where we get our nut meals:
      We used to grind our own, but often would end up with a butter/meal combo that did not work well for either use. So now we just order it 5 lbs. a shot. The company is quick and the prices are far better than Whole Foods (no Trader Joe’s here, unfortunately)

    • HI, Patti–

      You can get it canned.

      We’ve got the BPA issue to contend with, however. Unfortunately, nearly all the coconut milk I’ve come across is canned.

      • Evelyn

        Oh I thought you meant the coconut milk that’s in the frig section of the grocery store, SO Delicious. 50 calories for a cup and no sugar.
        What can you use besides Almonds, i’m allergic..poo!

        • Hi, Evelyn–

          I’ve used that in recipes, too, when you desire a lighter thinning agent, one with the consistency of whole milk. It’s also great for making hot flaxseed cereal and other dishes you’d ordinary make with milk.

          Have you tried ground walnuts, pecans, and hazelnut? They will respond a bit differently and yield a bit of a different taste, but a little experimentation usually yields success.

      • Lisa

        Making coconut milk is pretty quick. Just take a cup of unsweetened shredded coconut and put in blender with a cup to a cup and a half of warm water. Let sit a few minutes then blend for a minute or two. Strain through cheese cloth or a Bernardin Jelly Bag. I like the jelly bag as you rinse it and reuse it. Homemade coconut milk tastes much better.

  4. Mary Beth

    So, I had this huge craving for chicken wings and here’s what I did to try to make it as healthiest at possible.
    Fresh chicken wings (with most of the skin pulled off)
    basted them with olive oil and mustard and some pepper
    Baked them at 400 until done.
    Pulled them out of the oven and ate them with the worry free ranch dressing.
    I felt like I was eating the packaged chicken wings, that I love but no longer buy. They were great and after about 5 of them. I was done and felt satisfied. Im going to use the rest of them for lunch tomorrow to turn my salad into chicken salad with lots of fresh veggies. So, any suggestions or comments on remaking any other favorites? I would love to hear some ideas of what others have done to recreate a favorite recipe,.
    Dr. Davis, are you working on that cookbook yet????? Surely you must have time in your schedule to whip something up??? hahahaha

    • Wow, Mary Beth! Sounds yummy. I’m going to give it a try.

      I’m working on recipes, but not a cookbook just yet. I don’t view myself as a chef or gourmet, just someone trying to enjoy food that is wheat-free, limited carbohydrate, and otherwise healthy. Interestingly, I’ve got invited to do a cooking demonstration of one of my recipes on national TV. I’m going to tell them that I’m not a chef, I just play one on TV!

      • Patti Beverlin

        Would it be possible to have a place on this page where readers could contribute recipes that they’ve made and enjoyed? Just a thought. I’ve made a lot of flops, but I’ve had a few successes, too, and I’d be more than happy to share them if I had a place to do that.

  5. Samantha

    Made this last night with Stevia. They tasted like metal. So I made today with 1/2 the amt of sugar but used raw sugar ( I know I know) Tasted AMAZING. I ate 2 today, so that is not good but hey they are wheat free. HA! My kids loved them and loved them more than regular cupcakes…

    I cannot handle the stevia like products at all, is it just me??

    • Lisa

      It took a few stevia’s before I found one that was fine. I use New Roots stevia concentrate powder.

      A smidgen goes a long way. If you use too much of this it can be bitter so it is best to start smaller and add more if needed but once you get use to using it it becomes easy.

      If I was going to use real sugar I would go with pure coconut sugar. I think it is the lesser of the two evils compared to white or golden sugar.

    • Hi, Samantha–

      I hear this every once in a while. There must be some who just sense the taste differently.

      Have you tried erythritol? It’s a naturally-occurring sugar with much reduced (but not none, so use sparingly) potential for blood sugar effects.

    • Unless you are using a non-bitter high-quality stevia product, it is challenging to get the right taste in low-carb baked goods. Combining two alternative sweeteneers provides a synergistic effect which results in using less of both. I have found I can use stevia in beverages without a problem but in baked good I combine stevia and erythritol. I use NuNaturals Powdered Stevia Extract and NOW Foods Granulated Erythritol. A little goes a long way. To equal one cup of sweetness I usually start with 1/8 tsp. Stevia Extract and 1/3 c. Erythritol and then adjust accordingly. Hope this helps!

  6. Marie

    I made these last night but modified them because of lack of ingredients. All I had was flax meal so I used that in place of the ground almonds, making me add quite a bit more coconut milk to the recipe than is normally required. It was pure estimation on the consistency needed to ‘pour’ into baking cups. What I ended up with is edible, but they needed more sweetener in my opinion. I did not make a topping as I had no whipped cream. I had a few for breakfast, however, by adding a dollop of butter to the top and a bit of honey. I know it’s not the best choice, but they needed something and I opted for sweet as the easiest way to hide a multitude of evils. I’m focusing on wheat-free cooking at the moment, with the hopes of incorporating low-carb into the mix as I become acclimated. There will be eaten just the same. Thanks for the recipe.

    • Hi, Marie-

      Part of the fun is changing recipes on the fly.

      Odd thing: The longer you are wheat-free, the less sweetener you will desire. I create these recipes from a one-size-fits-all viewpoint, but you might find you desire more or less, partly depending on how long you’ve been wheat-free.

  7. Joan

    Just made these and served them to my carboholic family. The verdict: Excellent. The texture is very (should I say it?) wheat-like, which is rare in low-carb cooking. I even skipped the coffee powder, because my husband is extremely caffeine intolerant, and subbed cream for the coconut milk, because that’s all I had!. They’re still very good. I bet they’d be awesome with a low-carb cream cheese “frosting, ” too. Great recipe! Thanks!
    Had them with my favorite low carb pesto chicken. Open a jar of pesto (look for the lowest carb count) smear it on chicken breasts, pop in the oven at 350 for 1/2 hour, and top with mozzarella or swiss or your favorite cheese for another 7-8 minutes and serve. Easy, peasy!

  8. Walt

    I get a bit discouraged when so many low-carb/wheat free/etc recipes use almond meal. Since anaphylaxis isn’t high on my list of fun things I wonder what alternatives there are.

    • Hi, Walt–

      Consider ground walnut or pecans, though you will have to experiment to get consistency right. Also coconut flour is great, especially when mixed with nut meals.

      • Walt

        Sorry, shouldn’t have tried to be clever – I’m allergic to all tree nuts. Is coconut flour by itself a good substitute? What about root flours?

  9. Patti

    Haven’t noticed this in any of the comments but can you use
    those little individual packs of instant coffee in this recipe?

  10. Kassie Foundos

    Dr.Davis, I saw you on Fox and it was like an epiphany . I went out yesterday and bought your book . It was as if you were talking straight to me. I am energized and overwhelmed at the same time! I will keep you posted as to my progress.

  11. Kim Harper

    Just ate my first cupcake. Review:
    Not sure I am ready to ask my teens to eat them. Might need a little tweaking. They are good to me, though.

    I used RAW almonds that had been soaked overnight and then dehyrated at 104 degrees and refrigerated. I used the coconut oil in place of butter because it is a super healthy fat. I did NOT use the frosting this time, as I did not have the ingredients. And I used 1 3/4 tsp of Stevia powder (NOW Brand), I looked up an equivalency to the 1/2 cup of sugar and it indicated just 1 tsp, but I was afraid to make them too sweet and bitter.

    next time I will do a little over 2 tsp of Stevia and I will add the frosting and see how they turn out. Like I said, they are yummy to me, but there is no way my two daughters will eat these and like them……not yet anyway.

    Thanks for the recipe.

  12. Paulina J!

    Just made these this morning since I’ve been wheat free for about 4 days and needed “something”. I didn’t have cocnut milk, so I substituted with almond milk. Also didn’t have cupcake molds (the moving elves stole them during our move) so just put mixture in small loaf pan and baked an extra 10-15 mins. Added liquid coffee since I didn’t have instant powder.

    Delicious!! Don’t miss the traditional wheat products one bit. Thanks for the recipe!

    • Hi, Paulina–

      The basic recipe is fairly versatile. I’m impressed that the liquid coffee worked, since I’ve had problems doing it that way, for some reason.

      As you’ve probably gathered, I’m not a chef nor gourmet; I just play one on TV!

      • Paulina J!

        Let’s just say the liquid coffee was VERY strong, like cuban espresso strong. i substituted one of the tbsp of milk with coffee and added only 2tbsp of liquid coffee to sub the powdered coffee. The cake was very moist. It was delicious.

  13. Deb

    Hi Dr. Davis –
    I don’t know if I’m doing this right (I’ve never posted something before). If I should have put this post somewhere else, forgive me in advance. I have the ebook and have read it cover to cover. I’ve tried low-carb before, and didn’t have much luck. I have slightly elevated fasting blood glucose (107) and am definitely overweight (5′ 5″ – 210 lbs.). My physician told me to reduce my carbs and loose some weight and he will check my levels in 3 months. I have bad arthritis from numerous foot surgeries, and a knee surgery. I was so impressed reading your book in regards to the inflammation and have been trying to follow “wheat free” for 5 days now. I do feel better, and not as hungry during the day. I have not seen any reduction in weight yet, but I’ll be patient. I live in Kenosha and I have a Woodman’s in my backyard. Can you tell me what almond meal you are speaking of (so I buy the correct brand)? Also, if you have any other good Woodman’s buys to watch out for, I would greatly appreciate it. I’ve noticed that some things I have eaten have a small amount of “wheat” in the ingredients, so I’m slowly trying to rid my house of all this stuff. Thank you in advance for all your help and tips! OH! One other question – should we be removing the skin from chicken? (Sad to say….sometimes that’s the best part!) Again, thank you for a wonderful read, and I truly hope this helps me! I’m giving it all I got! :)

    • Hi, Deb–

      If you have a Woodmans (the one on 94?), then you are in good shape.

      The best price for ground almonds is Eileen’s. They also have Bob’s Red Mill, but it goes several-fold more in price.

      Also, look for the Bob’s Red Mill coconut flour. I use the Stevita liquid stevia, or the Sweet Leaf. Truvia can be had for a reasonable price there, too.

      • Deb

        Thanks for your prompt reply! Yes, I live right behind the Woodman’s on 94. I work in Cardiac Rehab and also take care of all the scheduling for the outpatient nutrition consults, so I work directly with the nutritionists. I sure am getting some resistance with my new way of eating! Thank you again for your tips!

  14. Louise Gilbert

    Found you in Woman’s World magazine of all places. But I recently got the Low Glycemic Load Diet book and that has led me to other info on how damaging wheat is, and so it seems to all be coming together for me. I have been drastically reducing my wheat intake for only two weeks, but feel so charged with this great info. I’ve been experimenting with using coconut flour and almond meal and have whipped up some cool stuff by revamping an old favorite “fry bread” recipe that even my husband loves. Thank you for your interesting site.

    • That’s great, Louise!

      Yes, reconfiguring standard recipes to fit with this concept is a great way to go. That is how I get the inspiration for many of my recipes: Start with something familiar or tasty and ask: How can I make this healthy–no wheat, no sugar, limited carbohydrates, minimal to no undesirable ingredients?

  15. Stephanie

    Ahhh! I made the muffins but they EXPLODED out of the pan. I didn’t check up on them and when I came back 30 minutes later they all spilled into the oven…. I don’t know what happened I’m pretty sure I followed the recipe

    • Exploded? I wonder if you had a pocket of something like unmixed eggs somewhere in the batter?

      I’ve made similar recipes many, many times and, I have to admit, have never had to run for the hills! I’ll bet it was a fluke.

      Perhaps mixing with a mixer thoroughly might minimize this again before your neighbors call the Department of Homeland Security.

  16. Stephanie

    Yeah… I did only mix them with a wooden spoon. Next time I’ll have to use the electric mixer lol

  17. Arlene

    I hate coconut with a passion. Even thinking about it makes my shiver. A lot of these recipes seem to have some sort of coconut in them. Oh-oh!

    • Iris

      There are all kinds of recipes that use other nut flours: almond, macadamia, walnut, hazelnut, you name it. You can find cook books devoted to “paleo or Primal” food which won’t have grain or bean flour but which may use nuts for baked goods. And plenty of recipes on the internet as well. Google for nut flour recipes and have fun!