In the baking aisle, the most commonly found coconut is sweetened, shredded coconut. This soft, fluffy coconut is and was the gold standard for baking. But it isn’t the only coconut option out there. Trader Joe’s recently added an Organic Unsweetened Flake Coconut to their line of baking products and it’s an affordable and easy-to-find alternative to the traditional sweetened stuff. This coconut is made with absolutely nothing but pure coconut – “what you would get if you went to the effort to harvest, crack, shred and dry the coconut yourself” – according to the packaging. The shreds are short and fine, with a slightly crisp texture to them. They have a mild coconut flavor on their own, without the extra sugar that sweetened coconut has to amplify the natural flavor of the coconut.
Unsweeteend coconut can be used in all baking applications unless a recipes specifically calls for sweetened coconut. After working with this particular coconut, I feel that it has a wonderful texture for granola and even for cereal bars, but the texture of it might not be ideal for all coconut applications. For instance, coconut is often used to garnish the top and sides of a coconut layer cake and I think that the softer, sweetened coconut is a better choice. That being said, this coconut does produce good results in cookies and cakes of all kinds. It won’t add as much sweetness as the pre-sweetened coconut, but that leads to a slightly subtler – but equally delicious – coconut flavor in many recipes.