Ah, dessert. One of the best parts of the holiday season! But wait, you’re watching your weight. Does that mean all those lovely pies and cakes and cookies are off-limits completely? Absolutely not. Here are three holiday desserts designed to satisfy and destined not to blow your diet.
Sinless White Chocolate Bark With Almonds and Cranberries
Bark and brittle are some of the highlights of this time of year. White chocolate bark makes a lovely addition to the dessert table, and also wraps nicely to give as gifts or to take to parties as hostess favors.
Preheat your oven to 325 degrees and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Spread 1 cup sliced almonds in a single layer on the cookie sheet, and sprinkle with 1/4 cup unsweetened coconut. Place in the oven for 5 to 8 minutes, or until the coconut just barely begins browning. Take it out and allow it to cool while warming 1 cup of rice cereal in the oven. Mix the cooled coconut and almonds with the rice cereal and add 1 cup of dried cranberries. Set aside 1/4 of this mixture.
Put 1 1/2 pounds chopped white chocolate and 2 teaspoons vegetable oil in a double boiler or in a heavy, heat-proof bowl over a pan of simmering water. Stir continually until the chocolate melts. Fold the almond mixture into the chocolate immediately, and spread over the lined cookie sheet. Sprinkle the reserved batch of topping on top. Chill in the fridge for half an hour, until the chocolate sets. Break up into pieces.
Guilt-Free Red Velvet Cupcakes
What would the holidays be without lovely, red velvet cupcakes, topped with festive white icing? Don’t worry, taking on a good health and nutrition plan doesn’t mean giving up these little goodies forever. Here’s a sin-free way to indulge.
Preheat your oven to 325 degrees, and mix 8 ounces of cake flower (approximately 2 cups) with 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, and 1/2 teaspoon baking powder. In another bowl, mix 1/4 cup unsweet cocoa with 1/2 cup softened butter and combine well. Add in 2 egg yolks, one at a time, mixing well after each. Stir in 1 teaspoon vanilla extract.
With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture in batches, alternating additions of 1 cup whole buttermilk and portions of the butter mixture. Continue to mix until thoroughly combined. Mix in 1 one-ounce bottle of red food coloring.
In a separate bowl, beat 3 egg whites with 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar on high until stiff peaks form. Separate 1/3 of the egg whites, and fold into batter. Then fold in the rest of the egg whites gently.
Line muffin tins with cupcake liners and spray with non-stick baking spray. Spoon batter into cups and bake for about 23 minutes, until a wooden toothpick inserted comes out with just a bit of moist crumbs. Allow to cool 10 minutes in the pan, and then finish cooling on wire racks.
As cupcakes cool, mix your frosting. Put 2 tablespoons of softened butter and 1 eight-ounce package of softened fat-free cream cheese in a bowl, and beat on medium-high speed until smooth and creamy. Add 2 cups of powdered sugar, 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract, and 1/8 teaspoon salt and mix until thoroughly combined and smooth. Add one packet of red food color paste and mix until color is evenly distributed. Frost the cupcakes and serve at your leisure.
Nutritiously Delicious Cranberry Upside Down Cake
Cranberries are packed with nutrients, and this dish features far less butter, sugar, oil, flour, and other dietary no-no’s. Pack your holiday with goodness instead of calories with this winning upside down cake.
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. In a skillet on medium heat, stir together 3/4 cup brown sugar, 2 tablespoons butter, and 2 tablespoons orange juice. Stir continually until butter is melted and things start bubbling. Allow to cool. Next, heat another 1/4 cup orange juice and a 12-ounce bag of cranberries (fresh or frozen, about 3 cups total) over medium heat, stirring regularly, until about half of the cranberries burst open. Poor this heated mixture over the cooled brown sugar mixture in a large skillet.
Mix together 3/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon salt. In another bowl, mix 2 egg yolks with 2 tablespoons butter, 1/3 cup canola oil, 1 cup sugar, and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. Mix on medium high until light and fluffy. Alternate stirring this mixture in with batches of 1/2 cup low fat milk, which has been allowed to warm to room temperature. Mix just until the flour is incorporated.
In another bowl, beat the egg whites until they form soft peaks. In thirds, fold the egg whites into the batter and gently fold until combined. Spread the batter over the cranberries. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until the cake begins to pull away from the sides of the pan. Flip the cake upside down onto a cake plate. Allow to cool for half an hour before serving. If desired, serve with whipped cream.
These holiday desserts are colorful, healthy, and won’t pack on those pounds. Enjoy a guilt-free holiday without skipping dessert!