Tag Archives: #cake

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

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.

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.


Copycat Roselyn Spumoni Whip Cream Cake

75/36 copycat Roselyn Bakery spumoni cake #365project

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No matter how many years go by after the closing of a local favorite, Roselyn Bakeries, Spring will always bring to my mind their Spumone Whip Cream Cake.  Roselyn closed in 1999, and though we Indy folks can still get some baked goods made from their recipes at Kroger, favorites like this cake are long gone.  Oh how I miss the Jelly Pop doughnuts, the Toffee Chip and the Smiley Face cookies, and the Chocolate Eclairs.  Heck, I miss the fake brick wall, the long glass cases filled with pastries, and the seemingly grandmotherly ladies who always worked behind those cases.  And the smells….

My mother’s birthday is St. Patrick’s Day.  For many of her birthday’s past, my grandparent’s (her parents) would buy a Spumone Cake for her birthday.  (By the way, that’s not my spelling mistake.  It’s how Roselyn named the cake.)  We all loved the green, pink, white, and chocolate layers surrounded by cherry whip cream.

Since it’s been close to 15 years since we had this yummy cake, I thought I would surprise her with my own version of the cake.  I am fortunate to have one of the Roselyn Cookbooks.  The recipes aren’t the easiest to follow.  In fact, they remind me of a recipe you get from someone’s grandmother at a church potluck dinner.  But with a little baking experience and the ability to make substitutions when a direction in the recipe doesn’t sound quite right, I have had good luck with several recipes.

For this cake, I decided to use boxed mixes instead of following the directions to make the cakes from scratch.  I have had good luck with boxed mixes, since I don’t keep flour and sugar in my pantry any more.  This also allowed me the opportunity to make the green layer actually taste like pistachio.  Did you know that Roselyn’s was just a white cake with green food coloring?

The whip cream frosting is Roselyn’s exact recipe.  I don’t think I used enough to frost my cake, because I had a ton leftover.  And frosting cakes isn’t my greatest strength.  Neither is putting graham cracker crumbs on the side of a four-layer cake covered in whip cream frosting.  See what I’m learning about myself?

I also changed the spelling.  I just couldn’t take it, though both spellings are correct.

The good news is that when my mom first saw the cake, her reaction was “Is that…?  Did you…?  Is that a Spumoni Cake?”  Yay! My frosting skills weren’t so bad after all — meaning it was still somewhat recognizable.  And the taste?  I’m proud to say that it tasted like Spring.

I hope you are encouraged to make this simplified version from my favorite childhood bakery. The pastel colors would be awesome at the Easter table.  But I know that my family will be making this cake again and again.  Enjoy!

If you are visiting from The Vintage Farmhouse, welcome!  I love comments, visitors, and followers.  You can also find me on TwitterFacebookInstagram, and Pinterest.

75/36 copycat Roselyn Bakery spumoni cake #365project

A post shared by Karen Collins (@annumography) on

Roselyn Spumoni Whip Cream Cake

1 box each of chocolate and strawberry cake mix
2 boxes of white cake mix
egg whites
vegetable oil
1 t. strawberry all-fruit spread
1 3 oz. box of pistachio pudding mix
½ t. lemon extract

Whip Cream Frosting:
5 c. heavy cream
½ c. 100% fruit cherry jam
12 drops red food coloring
1 cup powdered sugar

1 c. crushed graham cracker crumbs

Prepare the chocolate cake according to the package directions for two 9-inch round cakes, substituting butter for the oil and buttermilk for the water called for in the ingredients.

Prepare one white cake according to the package directions for two 9-inch round cakes, using the egg whites and vegetable oil called for in the ingredients.

Prepare the strawberry cake according to the package directions for two 9-inch round cakes, substituting butter for the oil and buttermilk for the water called for in the ingredients and adding the strawberry fruit spread.

Prepare the second white cake mix according to the package directions for two 9-inch round cakes, using the egg whites and vegetable oil called for in the ingredients and adding the pistachio pudding mix.

Once cakes have baked, cool them on a wire rack.  Wrap one layer of each cake in plastic wrap and then place in freezer bags for future use.  Trim the tops from the remaining cake layers so that they are flat and even on top and so that the layers are approximately the same height.

To make the whip cream frosting, place chilled heavy cream into a bowl and whip until it reaches a full peak.  Add the cherry jam slowly, so that it does not lose its peak.  Next add the powdered sugar slowly and fold in until completely mixed.  Add food coloring and blend until just fully incorporated.

To frost the cake, place layers in order (chocolate on bottom, then white, then strawberry, then pistachio), making sure to spread equal amounts of whip cream in between each layer.  Next frost the outside and top of the cake.  Place the crushed graham crackers around the outside of the cake.  Keep refrigerated until served.

Makes 10-12 large slices.

Double-Glazed Rainbow “Doughnut” Bundt Cake

Doesn’t it seem like March is a busy birthday month?  Or maybe it’s just me.  Add St. Patrick’s Day and Easter to the same month, and it all becomes a blur of festivities.  One of these celebrations was for a co-worker whose birthday is on St. Patrick’s Day.  Since it falls on a Sunday, and we start the St. Patty’s party in Indy on Friday with our St. Patrick’s Day Parade (well, really on Thursday with the greening of the canal), I made this cake for her.

and then there were sprinkles

A post shared by Karen Collins (@annumography) on

I took my inspiration from Hoosier Homemade’s Mini Rainbow Doughnuts (look at those gorgeous colors) and Cookies & Cups Double-Glazed Funfetti Donuts (sprinkles!).  Both are doughnut recipes, but I wanted cake that looked like a doughnut.  Bonus if I could also get it to taste like doughnuts too.  We would be serving this up first thing in the morning after all.

It's all rainbows up in here

A post shared by Karen Collins (@annumography) on

But sometimes life is about compromise.  I made this cake the night before, and it was at the end of a very hectic day.  Oh, and I’ve also baked seven cakes in the last two weeks.  With all this in mind, I decided to focus on incorporating the rainbow colors, double-glazing, and sprinkles(!).  Sorry, there is an explanation point in my head every time I say the word sprinkles(!).

I made a white cake mix, following the box directions with the exception of substituting buttermilk for the water.  I then divided the batter into six small bowls and added my food coloring.  After mixing the batter to the desired color, I sprayed my bundt cake pan with non-stick spray.  Working quickly, I poured the first batter into the pan.  I started with purple, just in case my plan didn’t work and I ended up with a layered rainbow bundt cake.  After putting the batter in the pan, I tilted the pan on its side and used a rubber scraper to scrape the batter into a smaller section.  I then grabbed the next bowl of blue batter, quickly poured it into the pan next to the purple batter, and repeated the tilt and scrape process.  This is easier to do than sounds.  With the greased pan, the batter wants to stick to itself more than it does the pan.  I also think that speed worked to my advantage.  I repeated these steps for the rest of the Roy G. Biv rainbow: Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, and Violet (sorry indigo, but I skipped you on the cake…it’s complicated).

My cake was more brown on the sides than I liked.  Maybe it was the non-stick spray I used?  But since I wanted to decorate this like a doughnut anyway, I just flipped that baby over so that its bright bottom was face up.  Hmm, that last sentence…moving on….  Next time I want to replicate the bright colors in Hoosier Homemade’s doughnuts.  The texture of the cake was light and airy, because I left out the egg yolks as directed on the box.  It got rave reviews.  But if I want to pursue my dreams of having this cake taste like a doughnut, I may explore other recipes next go-around.

Double-Glazed Rainbow “Doughnut” Bundt Cake
1 box of white cake mix
egg whites, as directed by package instructions
vegetable oil, as directed by package instructions
buttermilk equal to the amount of water on the package instructions
red, yellow, blue, and green food coloring
1/4 c. buttermilk
1 t. vanilla
2 c. powdered sugar
1 c. powdered sugar
1 T. buttermilk
colored sprinkles

Preheat oven to the temperature indicated on the package for a bundt cake pan and prepare the pan by lightly greasing or spraying with non-stick cooking spray.

Prepare the cake according to the directions on the box, substituting the buttermilk for the water. Divide the cake batter into six small bowls.  Add 4-6 drops of food coloring to the bowls for the red, yellow, green, and blue.  To make the orange frosting, use 2-4 drops yellow and 2-4 drops red.  To make the purple batter, use 2-4 drops red and 2-4 drops blue.

Pour the purple batter into the pan, making an effort to pour it all into as small a space in the pan as possible.  Tilted the pan on its side and, using a rubber scraper, scrape the batter into a smaller section as needed.  Next, pour the blue batter into the pan next to the purple batter, working as quickly as you can.  Repeat the tilt and scrape process.  Next pour in the green batter and repeat the steps for all the remaining colors: yellow, orange, and red.

Place the bundt pan in the oven and bake according to the package instructions.  When a toothpick inserted between the outer and center wall of the pan comes out clean, remove it from the oven and place it on a cooling rack.  Allow the cake to cool for 15 minutes, then remove from the pan.  Replace the cake, bottom side up, on the cooling rack and allow to completely cool.

To make the glaze, combine all ingredients until smooth.  Spoon the glaze over the cake while it is still on the cooling rack and use either the back of the spoon or a pastry brush to make sure the cake is completely covered.  You may want to place a baking sheet or waxed paper under the cooling rack to catch any drips.  Allow the glaze to dry on the cake.

To prepare the frosting, combine the ingredients until smooth.  Spread over the top (which is actually the bottom) of the glazed cake.  Add sprinkles if desired.

Celebrating a Milestone: Take 5 Layer Cake

65/365 my take on the Take 5 Cake #365project

A post shared by Karen Collins (@annumography) on

I’m a little odd.  No, not like that!  It’s just that I don’t love chocolate.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate it either.  But when it comes to sweets, there are many other hits on my favorites list before chocolate makes an appearance.  So maybe it’s no surprise that my absolute favorite candy bar is a Take 5, since it full of other goodies like peanut butter, caramel, and pretzels.  I crave this bar.  Unfortunately I’m staying away from peanuts and sugar these days, so craving this candy bar is as good as it gets.


My co-worker and friend, Karen, is celebrating a milestone birthday today.  Karen loves candy, especially when there are peanuts and chocolate and peanut butter and caramel and pretzels involved.  After all, salty and sweet are two of her major food groups.

I had been dreaming of making a Take 5-inspired cake for…months (no joke), and I knew that Karen would love it as much as me.  Six Sisters Stuff recently posted some Take 5 Cake Mix Bars, but I had in mind a layer cake that mimicked the layers of the candy bar.  Kitchenaid and Cookbooks made a sheet cake with layers like a Take 5 candy bar, but again no layers.

Inspired, I started planning.  I knew that I wanted a chocolate cake layer and some sort of peanut or peanut butter layer.  The Take 5 candy bar has both in it, so I decided to make a peanut butter frosting and a salted peanut cake.  I also knew that I wanted to use crushed pretzels with some sort of caramel filling, and I decided to use another frosting layer that incorporated both.

As I mentioned when I made these brownies, I now do a lot of my baking for others by staring with box mixes.  I take a hint from Tidy Mom and substitute the oil called for on the box with butter.  I don’t melt the butter, though; I just let it soften.  And I substitute the water called for with buttermilk.  So I purchased boxes of both chocolate and butter recipe cake mixes to begin.  While I was in the cake mix aisle, I decided to give some of the pre-made frostings a try.  I picked up a tub of buttercream frosting to use as the base for the peanut butter frosting and a tub of cream cheese frosting for the base of the caramel-pretzel frosting.  The chocolate buttercream frosting, however, was made from scratch.

I’m not the most talented of cake decorators.  In fact, I may add it to my list of goals to improve upon. I could take a class, but when do I have the time.  (Note: Make it another goal to find more time.)  I usually cover up my frosting woes with something bright, sparkly, sweet, or all of the above to distract the eye.  On this cake, I wanted to repeat some variation of the chocolate-peanut-caramel-pretzel theme.  Then I remembered the Rolo pretzel candies that I have seen around the web. Instead of pecans, though, why couldn’t I just use peanuts?

if you didn’t already know, I like to play with food, and these yummy layers are proof.  I baked the cake layers the night before I planned to assemble the cake, because it helps to keep the crumbs out of my impatient frosting way.  Because it ended up being four layers, I also used two bamboo skewers inserted through the center to hold everything together.  The cake transported well in my Wilton cake carrier, but it was tall and heavy…somewhere between 8-10 pounds.  I had leftovers from all three frostings, but that makes my husband happy.  I made him mini layer cakes with the leftover cake trimmings.  What?!?  Waste not, want not.

If you are visiting from Domesblissity, welcome!  I love comments, visitors, and followers.   You can also find me on TwitterFacebookInstagram, and Pinterest.

65/365 my take on the Take 5 Cake #365project

A post shared by Karen Collins (@annumography) on

Take 5 Layer Cake

Salted Peanut Cake Layers:
1 box of butter recipe cake mix
butter equal to amount of oil called for on cake mix box,softened
buttermilk equal to the amount of water called for on the cake mix box
16 oz. dry roasted, salted peanuts

Chocolate Cake Layers:
1 box of chocolate cake mix
butter equal to amount of oil called for on cake mix box, softened
buttermilk equal to the amount of water called for on the cake mix box

Peanut Butter Frosting:
1 can of prepared buttercream frosting
1 c. creamy peanut butter

Caramel-Pretzel Frosting:
1 can of prepared cream cheese frosting
1/2 c. caramel ice cream topping
approximately 2 cups of small pretzel twists

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting:
1 c. butter, softened
4 oz. semisweet chocolate, melted
1 t. vanilla
5 c. powdered sugar
4-5 T. buttermilk

Rolo Pretzel Candies:
16 small pretzel twists
16 Rolos, unwrapped
16 dry roasted, salted peanuts

Preheat oven to 325°F and prepare two 9-inch cake pans by lightly greasing or spraying with non-stick cooking spray.

Prepare the chocolate cake layers first.  Follow the directions on the box, substituting the butter and buttermilk for the oil and water.  After removing the baked cakes from the pans, allow the pans to cool completely.  When cool, prepare the pans again with additional greasing or non-stick cooking spray for baking the salted peanut layers.

To prepare the salted peanut cake layers, grind the peanuts in a food processor until they are finely ground.  Be careful not to leave them in too long, or you may end up with peanut butter.  Follow the directions on the butter recipe cake mix box, substituting the butter and buttermilk for the oil and water.  Before pouring the batter in the prepared pans, mix in the ground peanuts.

Allow the cake layers to cool completely.  When cool, trim the layers as needed to make them even on top.  Rounded cake layers make it more difficult to stack them, especially for a tall cake like this.

To prepare the peanut butter frosting, simply mix the canned buttercream frosting with the peanut butter.  For the caramel-pretzel frosting, chop the pretzels in a food processor until they are in pieces about the size of a chocolate chip.  Take care not to turn the pretzels into crumbs.  I use the pulse button on my food processor to keep from chopping them too much.  Then mix the pretzels with the canned cream cheese frosting and caramel ice cream topping.

To prepare the chocolate buttercream frosting, first combine the butter, vanilla and chocolate.  Begin to add the powdered sugar to the chocolate mixture slowly, one cup at a time.  Next add the buttermilk, one tablespoon at a time, until the buttercream is a spreadable consistency.

To assemble the cake, place a chocolate cake layer on your cake plate.  Top with peanut butter frosting.  Add a salted peanut cake layer.  Top with caramel-pretzel frosting.  Add another chocolate   cake layer, followed by more peanut butter frosting, and the final salted peanut cake layer.  Frost the sides, then the top with the chocolate buttercream.  Place the frosted cake in the refrigerator until the buttercream has stiffened.

To prepare the Rolo pretzel candies, place the pretzel on a baking sheet.  I placed mine on a silicone baking mat for easier cleanup.  Place an unwrapped Rolo on each pretzel.  Bake in an oven at 325° Fahrenheit for 4-5 minutes, or until the Rolos are slightly melted.  Remove from the oven, and while warm place a peanut on each Rolo.  Lightly press on the peanut to spread the Rolo over the pretzel.  Allow to cool completely.

To complete the cake decorating, add more caramel-pretzel frosting to the top of the cake.  Place the Rolo pretzel candies evenly around the top edge of the cake.  Return to the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Makes 16 large slices.


Linking to the Inspire Me Please blog hop and other great link parties found on my SeeKarenLink page.