Eliminating calories and fat from dessert doesn't have to mean eliminating taste, or the psychological pleasure indulging in it provides, just to achieve balance and moderation in the diet.
While most health professionals recommend the strict approach for calorie-wise consumers, the USDA's Human Nutrition and Information Service says that there is a place in the diet for dessert. Since fresh fruit doesn't completely replace the desire for after- or in-between-meal treats that are sticky and rich, the key is to choose these desserts in modest amounts, then balance them with foods that are lower in fat, sugars and calories the rest of the day.
Half the Fat
HNIS suggests consumers have half the usual amount of fats and sugars throughout the day to make room for a dish of ice cream or other favorite treat. Or, modify traditional desserts so that they utilize low-fat ingredients.
For this type of imaginative cookery, base desserts on ingredients such as unflavored gelatin, low-fat yogurt, evaporated skim milk, egg whites and angel food cake. Then, choose fresh fruits like raspberries, peaches, strawberries and cherries, which make exceptional flavor accompaniments.
Start out with Frozen Raspberry Yogurt, which takes advantage of plain low-fat yogurt instead of whole milk or cream, for nearly half the calories of ice cream. To re-create the rich and creamy smoothness of traditional frozen desserts, raspberries and cranberry juice cocktail are blended with unflavored gelatin to give the treat its frosty smoothness.
Another light but silky fruit dessert is Peach-Almond Mousse. In it, evaporated milk, fresh peaches and almond extract are whipped up into a sweet puree. Instead of a whipped cream topping, garnish with sliced or chopped fresh peaches.
The Layered Look
Cherry Party Compote features layers of sweet cherries, blueberries, pineapple chunks and apricot halves, all arranged in an attractive trifle bowl, and topped with a splash of white wine and orange liqueur. After a generous chilling to allow the flavors to mingle, pour club soda over just before serving to add effervescence.
Cherries also are highlighted in another calorie-sparing dessert, Cherry-Brandy Ice Cream.
This cool and refreshing dessert tastes rich--evaporated milk and low-calorie whipped topping mix provide its texture. Low-calorie sweetener and brandy extract contribute flavor.
Other featured light, summer fruit desserts include Summer Berry Meringue Pie, Nectarine-Brandy Sorbet and Raspberry Angel Roll.
CHERRY-BRANDY ICE CREAM
1 cup pitted and chopped cherries
1 tablespoon brandy extract
9 packages low-calorie sweetener
2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
1 cup evaporated skim milk
1 packet low-calorie whipped topping mix
2 egg whites or 1/4 cup egg substitute
Gently toss cherries with 1 teaspoon extract and 1 package sweetener. Set aside.
Sprinkle gelatin over 1/2 cup skim milk in small saucepan. Let stand 5 minutes. Stir constantly over low heat until gelatin dissolves, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat, then stir in remaining sweetener and cool.
Prepare whipped topping according to package directions, substituting remaining skim milk for water and remaining brandy extract for vanilla. Whip in cooled gelatin. Beat egg whites until soft, but not dry, peaks form. Gently fold whipped topping mixture and cherries into egg whites. Freeze until firm. Makes 8 (1/2 cup) servings.
CHERRY PARTY COMPOTE
2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
2 cup fresh, frozen or canned pineapple chunks, drained
4 cups sweet cherries, stemmed and pitted
2 cups apricot halves
1 1/2 cups chilled white wine
2 tablespoons orange liqueur
1 cup club soda
Arrange layers of blueberries, pineapple, half of cherries, apricots and remaining cherries in large glass bowl or compote. Combine wine and liqueur and pour over fruits.
Chill thoroughly. Just before serving, pour club soda over and garnish with mint. Makes 12 to 15 servings.
RASPBERRY ANGEL ROLL
1 (16-ounce) package angel food cake mix
2 (10-ounce) packages frozen sweetened raspberries, thawed
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 envelope whipped topping mix
1/3 cup nonfat milk
1 tablespoon powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/8 teaspoon almond extract
1/3 cup chopped blanched almonds, toasted
Prepare cake mix according to package directions. Line jellyroll pan with wax paper and spread half of batter, about 5 cups, into pan. Spread remaining batter into ungreased (9x5-inch) loaf pan. Bake at 300 degrees until top springs back when touched lightly in center, 20 to 25 minutes for jellyroll pan, 45 to 50 minutes for loaf pan.
Cool jellyroll 10 minutes, then loosen edges from pan and invert on towel sprinkled with powdered sugar. While still hot, carefully roll cake and towel from narrow end. Place on wire rack until completely cool, about 2 hours. Invert loaf pan to cool. Remove from pan and freeze for later use.