Tag Archives: #dessert

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

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dark choc chips #seekarencook

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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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dark choc chips #seekarencook

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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.


SeeKarenFollow: This Week

Who else is overjoyed that it’s May?  In Indy, May is a month full of activity and celebration…including my birthday.  I usually share my birthday weekend with the Indy 500, so I’ve learned to make the most of it.  This week, however, was all about counting down to Cinco de Mayo (from the food I ate to the shoes I wore and of course the margaritas) and other random moments caught on Instagram.

I finally took down my tissue paper flower garlands, but only to replace them with red and blue crepe paper and glittery Cinco de Mayo decorations.  Yes, it does look a little like a 4th grade classroom up in there.  So?

The hubby and I saw my all-time favorite ever presentation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Indiana Repertory Theatre this week.  The Shakespeare classic was depicted as a young boy’s dream set in the Belle Époque era.  Loved it!  And isn’t IRT beautiful inside?

Sometimes a great recipe starts with an epic fail.  This was the case with my Mexican Hot Chocolate Brownie Ice Cream.  I hadn’t planned on ice cream.  But when the brownies blew up in the over, fell while cooling, cemented themselves to the pan, and then turned out to be a pudding cake consistency inside, plans changed.  I have to say, though, they made the best ice cream ever!

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122/365 refraction #365project #annumography

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This photo is why I love, love, love Instagram.  Because sometimes you spy a random rainbow in the sky.  And not only do you need to take a picture of this thing that makes you smile, but you also need to share it with others immediately.  Smiles all around!

When you look at what I pinned on Pinterest this week, it will appear that I was very hungry.  And thirsty.  All week.  I threw in a couple of crafty ideas at end.  Because they are awesome…not just to feel less guilty about my food cravings.

  1. Nacho fries are a brilliant idea.  Why hasn’t anyone done this sooner?  Maybe they have, but I wasn’t paying attention.  Never mind.  I want to try these soon; maybe even switch it up with sweet potato fries.  Yum!
  2. Month of May parties are all about the potluck.  I’m keeping this Royal Potato Salad recipe in mind for the next shindig.
  3. It’s probably dangerous that I can now make these cinnamon-sugar almonds in the crock pot.  As soon as I figure out how to make them with non-refined sugar choices, I may just be out-of-control.
  4. Speaking of out-of-control.  Chocolate-covered bacon toffee.  Someone please pry it away from me.
  5. I had an awesome idea this week.  Why not make my own version of a Choco-Taco with some leftover taco shells that I have in the pantry.  I spent a few days pondering ice cream options that would blend perfectly with the shells.  Then I found these Peanut Buster Choco Tacos.  So good; I’m totally going to copy!
  6. Roasted jalapeno margaritas.  Do I need to say anything else?
  7. Hot summer days are a comin’, and where would I be without these agua frescas?
  8. Ten gifts in one hour.  Hooray!  That’s what I’m thinking when I see these fabric key chains.
  9. How adorable is this no-sew lattice t-shirt?  I’m thinking you could customize it to your desired level of exposure (ahem).
  10. Not only do I appreciate the DIY wood transfer tutorial on this post, but the message is something that I need in my life.  Daily.

Feliz Cinco de Mayo!

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.

SeeKarenFollow: This Week

I’m feeling like a rabbit in Wonderland (I’m late, I’m late!) with this post.  I’ve been catching up with myself after having a week full of down-time from sinus headaches and such.  But sick is boring, so let’s see what else I did on Instagram this week.

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112/365 haughty #365project #dogsofinstagram

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It rained.  A lot.  I learned this morning that we will likely break the Indiana state record for wettest April.  Did you read that?  WETTEST APRIL.  Because an ordinary April isn’t wet enough, spring showers and all.  Anyway, this naughty little girl (with inadequately wiped paws from all that mud that comes with the wettest April) jumped up on our bed, “dug” off most of the covers, and dirtied up our white sheets.  Sweet, isn’t she?

But I can’t stay mad.  Look how sweet both pups are as they keep me company in bed on Friday.  Yes, I said both.  That’s Buddy in the foreground, but look carefully at the reflection in the mirror.

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side piece

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In the meantime, we are still making progress on our guest bedroom re-do.  Yesterday, though, we spent most of the afternoon replacing an old, broken-down door on our old garage.  It was just too pretty to stay indoors.  I got the chance to soak up some much needed sun.  My hubby beams with pride at his new door every time he looks outside.  Everybody wins.

Not so many pics this week, but more down-time means more web time and pins on Pinterest.

  1. I will be using this tutorial for a floating art frame today to frame an odd-sized print for my hubby’s new office.
  2. Still can’t get over the idea of plastering a map on just about anything?  Then these awesome chairs are for you.
  3. Have a fabric pattern that you love and want to show off?  This cloth-covered wreath shows you how.  And the flower tutorials are a bonus!
  4. This chevron canvas tote is inspiring another Sharpie project for me.
  5. How cute is the idea for these paper earrings?  I have so many paper stock scraps just waiting for a project like this.
  6. The best thing about these diagonal color-block t-shirts, except how gorgeous they are, is that you have two new fun shirts when you finish.
  7. Will someone please pour me on of these chipotle whiskey sour?  Not right now, but later today at a more appropriate cocktail hour?
  8. I think this Greek quinoa salad would be great served warm or cold.
  9. When you look at my recipe pins on Pinterest, you can see that I love a good gluten-free dessert idea.  This gluten-free apple tart is going on the list.
  10. I am absolutely intrigued by this Mexican Cacao, Rice & Amaranth drink.  Aren’t you?

Make the most of your Sunday!  I’m on my way to do the same.

Rosemary, Date, Walnut, and Feta Shortbread Cookies: Gluten-Free and Refined Sugar-Free

I don’t always know what first sparks an idea for a new recipe, but often it is because I hate to waste anything.  Case in point, these cookies.  It all started with feta cheese.

Yes, that’s right.  Not wanting to throw away some feta cheese resulted in cookies.

I didn’t want my usual go-to’s for feta cheese: pasta, pizza, salads, etc.  In the mood for something different, I did a quick internet search and found these Cranberry, Walnut and Feta Shortbread Cookies from Kitchen Tested.  Perfect!  But I wanted to make the recipe gluten-free, so that I could eat them.  Duh!  As usual, I turned to Elana’s Pantry and found these Gluten-Free Pecan Shortbread Cookies.

After a quick look in my pantry to make sure that I had enough almond flour, I decided to use dates in place of cranberries and add some fresh rosemary.  I had some in the fridge that needed to be used up before it too went to waste.  Win, win!

I adore umami flavors: sweet, sour, bitter, and salty, so these cookies were perfect for me.  It would be super easy, though, to leave out the rosemary if you aren’t a fan.  Or to substitute a difference nut for the walnuts.  Heck, you could even use goat cheese or blue cheese crumbles in place of the feta.  Just let me know if how they turn out!

Rosemary, Date, Walnut, and Feta Shortbread Cookies

2 1/2 c. almond flour
1/4 t. salt
1/4 t. baking soda
1 T. fresh rosemary, minced
5 T. raw honey
1/2 c. unsalted butter, melted
1 T. gluten-free vanilla extract
1/2 c. dates, chopped
1 c. walnuts, toasted and chopped
4 oz. feta cheese, crumbled

In a medium bowl combine almond flour, salt, baking soda, and rosemary. In a large bowl, mix together honey, butter, and vanilla. Add the flour mixture to the honey mixture and combine. Stir in dates, walnuts, and feta cheese until just combined.

Place dough in the center of a large piece of waxed paper and form into a log that is about 2 1/2-inches in diameter. Place dough in freezer for about one hour, or until firm.

Preheat oven to 350° Fahrenheit. Remove dough from freezer and unwrap. Cut dough into 1/4-inch slices and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake until the cookies are a light golden brown, about 12-15 minutes, or until the edges are a dark golden brown. Cool cookies on baking sheet for one minute, then move to a cooling rack.

Makes approximately 3 dozen cookies.

SeeKarenFollow: This Week

Maybe these posts should be sub-titled ‘What I Do When I’m Not Blogging’, since I seem to be on Instagram all the time lately.

I started the week with some thrift store and antique mall shopping.  Every time I look at the shot of this brass trunk, I want to jump in my car and go buy it.  Sigh.

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I’m not going to buy this baby, though.  I’m going to hack it and put it in my kitchen.  I think it will be a pretty easy project, and I get to use power tools.  Bonus.

There were also a few pictures of furniture made from wagon wheels.  I share these for my husband, because we have a running joke about wagon wheels a la When Harry Met Sally.  We even have a wagon wheel, which I will make into a table.  Someday.

This is a my Goodwill haul.  I am Madison Avenue’s dream, because marketing TOTALLY works on me.  Example: I buy more at Goodwill to get the discount with my rewards card.  But this $50 worth of junk will give me hours of joy.

Play along: Do you see the bunny in the picture above?

I ate all of this Aussie Burger: lettuce, onion, pickled beets, grilled pineapple, local fried egg, Smoking Goose bacon, ketchup and mayo.  And then I had a tummy ached from eating the bun.  Dear Punch Burger, will you still serve me if I B.Y.O.B. (bring my own bun)?

I made Cocoa Puff muffins to celebrate my boss’ birthday.  But he took an unannounced vacation day, so we ate them in his honor.  In front of his closed office door.  What?

Speaking of work, I have my own little plant nursery going on in my cubicle.  I didn’t think I would have much success with the little forget-me-not seeds that I received during the 14 Days of Valentines, but those little suckers are GROWING under the flourescent lights.  Good thing something flourishes there.

Last week I watched Contagion for the first time.  I know.  I’m a little behind.  But now I think of Dr. Ian Sussman every time I write a post.  “Blogging is not writing; it’s graffiti with punctuation.”  That’s me alright.

Now on to what I am pinning this week.

  1. 29 Rue House is inspiring me to pimp my own spider-back chair.
  2. Man…now I have to add vintage light globes to my list of things to hunt for in thrift shops.
  3. I absolutely need a couple of these granny square pillows in my life.
  4. I’m always looking for a way to dress up a t-shirt and wear it to work.  Now I just need to decided on which one I will add leather shoulder trim.
  5. I’m a little scared, because I haven’t had the best luck in the past, but I may try making some jewelry this weekend.  This chevron necklace inspires me.
  6. I love bubble tea, and it’s not easy to find in Indy.  Maybe I need to make my own and add this coffee version to the mix.
  7. Poaching an egg in olive oil?  Love it!
  8. This cookie stamping technique is giving me soooo many ideas.
  9. Cross-stitch?  Yes.  Foxes?  Yes!  I’m so excited about the faux-stitch pattern on these bags.
  10. You may find me on the couch this Sunday night watching The Ten Commandments and crafting these plastic lace woven hangers.  Charlton Heston and Yul Brynner just do it for me, what can I say?

Here’s wishing you all a happy, sunny, blessed Easter weekend!

Copycat Roselyn Spumoni Whip Cream Cake

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.

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.