I love reading great blogs.  One of my favourite food blogs for some time now is That Girl Cooks Healthy by  passionate cook Charlene.  Like me Charlene is also of Caribbean heritage and I absolutely love her approach to Caribbean food making delicious, healthy, dairy and gluten-free dishes.   So I was over-joyed that she said ‘yes’ when I asked her if she would contribute one of her recipes and one of my favourite Jamaican cakes to the blog.  I grew up on Toto, mum baking this on a Saturday evening and us patiently waiting until it was cool enough to eat. This delicacy is light enough to not ruin a meal, delicious enough to be a real treat and totally healthy. Fantastic!

When Lorraine reached out and asked me to contribute to her blog I was honoured to be a part of her an extraordinary blog. As a blogger myself, it’s always nice to be presented with an opportunity to interact with a fellow blogger.

As myself and Lorraine are of Caribbean lineage with a shared culture, she wanted me to give a brief introduction to a recent Jamaican delicacy that I featured on my own blog several weeks ago.

Last month I created a modified version of something called Toto (pronounced toe toe) which is a Jamaican coconut cake. I believe the origins of Toto go far back as the days of slavery, albeit the creation of the cake has change drastically with time. Back then, as the slaves grew hungry, during the nighttime, they would make Toto using coconut, flour and molasses. The cake was then baked on an open fire made using for coals and a metal sheet.

Toto. Traditional Jamaican Coconut Cake.

Toto. Traditional Jamaican Coconut Cake.

Presently, Toto is still eaten in Jamaica and the diaspora with the recipe evolved into a more spice infused delicacy. The post slavery method of making this snack calls for flour, shredded coconut, eggs, sugar, butter and some spices. Over the years this recipe has been passed down to the younger generation with each household creating own signatory style.

I myself grew up on a family variation of Toto and always looked forward to either mother or my grandma baking this spiced infused coconut cake. However, as a food blogger on a mission to prove you can still eat Caribbean food and be healthy. I challenged myself to make a healthy adaptation of a Jamaican classic while remaining the same flavour. It took me some weeks, then finally hey pesto a foolproof Toto was born.

My formula replaces refined flour with ground almond which are packed with healthy fats and protein. Also, palm sugar which has a relatively low glycemic index (GI 35) superseded refined sugar. By replacing the two ingredients with a healthier alternative allows the replica to be eaten in a healthier context. You can even make this recipe vegan by replacing the eggs with flax eggs (ground flax seeds made with water).

Toto Jamaican Coconut Cake

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


Toto. Traditional Jamaican Coconut Cake.

Toto. Traditional Jamaican Coconut Cake. Vegetarian and gluten free.

  • 1 ½ cup of ground almond
  • ¾ cup of coconut palm sugar
  • ¾ cup of shredded coconut
  • 4 eggs or use 3 flax eggs to make it vegan
  • ¼ cup of dairy free butter or use coconut oil instead, melted
  • ½ tsp of baking soda
  • ½ tsp of baking powder
  • ½ tsp of nutmeg
  • ½ tsp of allspice
  • ½ tsp of ginger


Preheat the oven to 350f (180c).

Line a square baking tray with parchment paper
Combine the entire dry ingredients in a large bowl and mix together.

Meanwhile, in a separate bowl , cream the butter/coconut oil and palm sugar until creamy. Pour in the eggs and mix the three ingredients along with the vanilla.

Pour the wet ingredient into the bowl with the dry ingredients and mix using a hand held mixer. You want the consistency to be smooth and free from any lumps, this process shouldn’t take longer 1-2 minutes. Do not over mix the batter or the Toto won’t be light and fluffy.

Pour the batter into the lined baking tray and gently tap the side of the tray to expel any trapped air.

Bake the coconut cake for 40-50 minutes or until golden brown.
Check the readiness of the Toto by inserting a skewer into the centre and remove. If it comes out clean, then it’s cooked in its entirety, if not cook a little longer and repeat this step.

Once cooked remove from oven and transfer to a cooling rack.

Serve accordingly, can freeze for up to 3 months.


If you’re loving this recipe take a look at Charlene’s wonderful blog That Girl Cooks Healthy. I really recommend the lovely Pumpkin and Turmeric Rice.

8 Responses

    • LorraineGardens

      Indeed! I was at my mom’s yesterday and the first thing I spotted was Toto stacked in the cake dish. Time for us to get this onto our tables again 🙂 Charlene’s piece is great as this cake has real history to it.

  1. Pinney


    You did not mention how much flour is needed or the vanilla is not in the indgredients list.

  2. Fany

    I have shared this receipe on my facebook page. I project to give it a try for my followers. Hope it’s as yummy as it looks!


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