Tag Archives: #brownies

Gluten-Free Chocolate Mint Snack Cake (with a secret ingredient)

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When my friends ask what I’ve been up to lately, my answer is “chopping vegetables”.  Seriously.

A couple of weeks ago, I hinted about a major lifestyle change that I was about to make.  Well, you guys, I have completely changed the way eat.  No, not just the way I eat.  I have completely changed the way I think about food.

Last year, I gave up all gluten and refined sugar after suffering from three major allergic reactions between February and June.  I mean the kind that get you a quick trip to the emergency room.  Diagnosed with systemic candidiasis — that basically means that my body had grown a whole lot more candida albicans than the average person — I started taking medication and gave up the breads, pastas, and sweet treats that I loved.  Turns out candida loves them more.

What I have learned over the last year is that I had been suffering symptoms from candidiasis well before February, but I always attributed my feeling bad to something else.  Within a month of not eating gluten and refined sugar, my weekly migraines stopped.  How do I know it wasn’t something else that changed?  Because I’m a cheater.  I would eat just one little brownie or a teensy slice of bread thinking “what could it hurt?”, and whammo, migraine headache.  No cheats; no headaches.

Yay!  Right?  Well, I never got completely well.  I was better, but I still had a ton of gastrointestinal issues.  And a battle with completely unexplained, stubborn weight gain around my belly.  And a bunch of other symptoms too boring to discuss in this forum.  Have you ever heard people say that they were sick and tired of being sick and tired?  Sounds like a corny bumper sticker, right?  Except that’s me.  I finally reached my breaking point three weeks ago, and I decided that it was time to make a change.

If you are familiar with addiction treatment terminology, then some of the words I’m using may resonate.  That’s because I am addicted to flour, sugar, and salt.  Why else did I repeatedly eat things that I knew would make me sick later?  In an effort to explain my behavior to friends, I actually caught myself likening it to drinking too much while knowing that there would be a hangover to follow.  Truth is most of us are addicted to flour, sugar, and salt.  Um, the food manufacturers are more than well aware of this.


I am not at a point where I am well enough to be the teacher about how we are hooked on food that hurts us.  If you want to know more, watch a documentary like Hungry for Change.  There are also tons of books, especially anything by Michael Pollan or Dr. Mark Hyman.  Or just look around at how — please excuse my frankness — fat we all are.  Even many thin people are fat when it comes to body composition.

Have I peaked your interest in my new journey?  Well, how about this: I lost 8 pounds in the last 10 days.  And I ate really awesome food 5-6 times a day.  Grass-fed meats, free-range eggs, avocados, every tree nut and just about every seed you can imagine, fresh herbs, and lovely, beautiful, in-season vegetables. 

Okay, now why in the heck am I showing you a recipe for cake after all of that?  Two reasons.  First, like any addict, I need to be able to manage my environment.  Having this cake, which has no flour, very little sugar, and tons of good-for-me ingredients helps ease my fears about NEVER BEING ABLE TO EAT SWEETS AGAIN.  My approach to wellness is more harm reduction than cold-turkey, for a lot of reasons that I hope to speak more eloquently about when I’m on the other side.  The second reason?  I baked this cake on Sunday.  Since then, I have only eaten a single 2-inch square of it.  Before I made the cake, I promised myself that if I started to obsess about the cake sitting on my kitchen counter, or if I felt out-of-control around it, then I would either throw it away or take it into work for my hungry friends.  But that hasn’t been an issue.  So the biggest reason to share about this cake is that I’m so proud of myself for conquering not only my cravings, but also my fear of them.

I got the idea for this recipe while searching for a way to use up the rest of my locally-grown fresh chocolate mint.  Delighted Momma’s Flourless Zucchini Brownies got me straight up off the couch and into the kitchen to try my own version.  I had to find out how a vegetable, almond butter, and a single egg could result in a baked good worth eating.

Were they?  You betcha!  Zucchini is my new favorite secret ingredient.  I think the texture is more cake than brownies, though, so I switched up the name.  Next time, I will experiment with adding either almond or coconut flour for a more brownie-like texture.  If it works, I will definitely share. 

I had the chocolate liquid stevia on hand, but you could use regular or vanilla liquid stevia if you prefer.  Or powdered stevia.  When my system is more calibrated, I may use raw honey.  The point is to make this work for you and your health.  I also used the small amount of gluten-free dark chocolate chips that I still had on hand after my pantry purge.  Next time, I will probably use cacao nibs as a sugar-free alternative.  Also, allow this cake to cool completely, because it makes a huge improvement in the texture and flavor to let this baby come to room temperature.

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Chocolate Mint Snack Cake

2 medium zucchini, peeled and chopped into large pieces
1 c. almond butter
1 egg
1 t. liquid chocolate stevia, or sweetener of choice
1 t. vanilla
1 t. baking soda
1 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. nutmeg
approximately 20 fresh chocolate mint leaves
1/2 c. dark chocolate chips or cacao nibs

Preheat oven to 350° Fahrenheit.  Spray a 9×9-inch baking pan with coconut oil spray and set aside. 

In a food processor, chop the zucchini until finely minced.  Add the next eight ingredients and pulse until well combined.  Remove the bowl from the food processor and stir in dark chocolate chips or cacao nibs. 

Pour mixture into prepared pan.  Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Remove from oven and allow to cool completely.  Slice, serve, and enjoy.


Countdown to Cinco de Mayo: Mexican Hot Chocolate Brownie Ice Cream

I set out to make gluten-free Mexican Hot Chocolate Brownies.  But if you follow me on Instagram, you know they didn’t quite turn out the way I expected.  They tasted awesome, but couldn’t be served as brownies.  I started thinking about scooping them out of the pan and serving them with vanilla ice cream, when it occurred to me that I should just use them to make ice cream.

To make this ice cream, you can use your favorite recipe for an 8×8-inch pan of brownies — including a box mix.  Just add the cinnamon and cayenne pepper to give them that Mexican hot chocolate flavor.  Also, if you don’t have Mexican hot chocolate tablets, you can substitute 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips.

I have the ice cream maker attachment for my KitchenAid stand mixer, so I churn the cream mixture for 20 minutes, add the brownies, chopped chocolate, and pepitas, and continue to churn until I hear a clicking sound (about 10 minutes later).  Your ice cream maker’s instructions may be different, so follow them accordingly.  If you don’t have an ice cream maker, you can pour the cream mixture (with brownies, chocolate, and pepitas added) into a freezer-safe container and place in the freezer, stirring every hour until it reaches the desired consistency.

If you are visiting from Anyonita Nibbles Tasty Tuesdays, WELCOME!   I love comments, visitors, and followers.  You can also find me on TwitterFacebookInstagram, and Pinterest.

Mexican Hot Chocolate Brownie Ice Cream

1 recipe for an 8X8-inch pan of brownies
2 t. ground cinnamon
1/2 t. ground cayenne pepper
2 c. heavy cream
3/4 c. milk
1/2 c. raw honey
2 t. vanilla
pinch of salt
1 Mexican hot chocolate tablet, chopped
1/4 c. pepitas (roasted pumpkin seeds)

Prepare the brownies, adding the cinnamon and cayenne before baking.  Allow the brownies to completely cool.  Crumble or cut the brownies into bite-sized pieces and set aside.

Combine heavy cream, milk, honey, vanilla, and salt in a medium saucepan.  Cook over medium heat until the mixture begins to bubble, stirring to prevent a skin from forming on the cream mixture.  Remove from heat and allow mixture to cool.  Pour the mixture in a covered bowl and place in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or overnight.

Pour the cream mixture into an ice cream maker and follow your manufacturer’s directions, adding the brownies, chopped chocolate, and pepitas toward the end.  You can eat right away, if you prefer the soft-serve consistency, or place in a freezer-safe container to enjoy a more firm ice cream later.

Ghirardelli Chocolate-Covered Cherry Brownies

Excuse the poor lighting; this was taken under fluorescent lights in my cubicle at work.

Last night I made these brownies for a co-worker.  They were inspired by the chocolate cherry cake balls I recently saw on Hungry Happenings.  If I had more time, I probably would have followed Beth’s recipe as-is.  With more ideas than time, however, I wondered if I could instead suspend the cherries in a sheet cake.  Or maybe brownies, since the batter would be more likely to hold the cherries in place than cake batter would.  That’s the ticket.

Since I am sensitive to gluten, I don’t have traditional baking products (flour, refined sugar, etc.) in my kitchen pantry.  When I bake for my co-workers, I typically start with a mix and ‘pimp’ it to add a more homemade taste.  Ghirardelli Brownies are a great go-to mix.  I bought two boxes, because I wanted a thick, but chewy, brownie to complete cover the cherries in the batter.  I followed the directions on the box, except I substituted the reserved maraschino juice for the water called for in the recipe.

The full recipe is posted below, but I wanted to show you guys some of my technique.  I spread half the brownie batter in the prepared pan, and then I evenly spaced the cherries on top.  Using a small ice cream scoop, I added more dollops of brownie batter between the cherries.  Then, using an offset spatula, I spread the additional batter over and around the cherries.  I don’t think that I will need to be so meticulous about this next time, since the brownies rise in baking and cover the cherries well.

Before I put the brownies in the oven, I started to worry that the stems would burn.  They are completely saturated in a super sugary syrup (say that three times fast).  Never fear, I made them all little aluminum foil overcoats to protect them during baking.  (Sorry for the blurry photo; it was late and my kitchen lighting leaves a lot to be desired.)  Unfortunately the stems still got a little crispy, but who cares?  Unless you guys were planning to tie them in knots with your tongue…just saying.  When the brownies come out of the over, just slip their coats off the stems.

I wanted the frosting on these brownies to be rich and sugary, almost like candy.  I decided to use a variation of the frosting that I make for Texas Sheet Cake.  While it was warm, I poured it over the still-warm brownies.  It was easier than I thought to dodge the cherry stems.  I think any other frosting may be more difficult to maneuver, but you could skip the frosting altogether.

Next time around I will probably use more cherries spaced more closely together, and I will cut these into smaller brownies.  Then it will be easy to eat these in one bite while pulling out the cherry stem.  As is, there isn’t as much cherry flavor in each bite as I would like.  And there is a danger of getting a cherry stem up your nose as you daintily nibble the edges.  Not that I would know anything about that.

Chocolate-Covered Cherry Ghirardelli Brownies

2 20-ounce boxes of Ghirardelli Chocolate Supreme Brownie Mix
24 maraschino cherries, drained
1/2 c. reserved maraschino cherry juice
2/3 c. vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1 cup unsalted butter
4 T. Ghirardelli unsweetened cocoa powder
6 T. milk
1 t. vanilla
1 1/2 pounds powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 325°F and prepare 13×9-inch baking pan by lightly greasing or spraying with non-stick cooking spray.

Mix together the maraschino cherry juice, vegetable oil, and eggs until well combined.  Add the dry brownie mix and chocolate syrup packets from both boxes of mix.  Stir until the dry mix is just incorporated into the wet ingredients.  Do not over-mix.

Spread half of brownie batter in the prepared pan.  Evenly space the drained cherries on top of the batter in the pan.  Using a small ice cream scoop, add more dollops of brownie batter between the cherries.  With an offset spatula, spread the additional batter over and around the cherries.

Wrap the cherry stems with aluminum foil so that they won’t burn.  Then place the pan in the oven for 50-55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Immediately after taking the brownies from the oven, begin melting the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. When melted, add the cocoa and stir to combine.  Remove the pan from the heat and add the milk and vanilla.  Stir again, then add the powdered sugar a cup or two at a time, stirring with each addition. When all the powdered sugar has been added, continue to stir briskly until the frosting is smooth.  Pour the warm frosting over the still-warm brownies.  Allow to cool slightly, or completely if you can resist the warm chocolatey temptation, before cutting.

Makes 24 brownies.