Healthy Cook

Just Desserts

by Kate Sherwood, July/August 2010

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Unless you’re talking a piece of fresh fruit—arguably the best way on earth to finish a meal—dessert is a land mine. By the time you’re done smacking your lips, odds are you’ve absorbed a nice dose of sugar, white flour, and butter. Here are four fruit-rich desserts that go easy on the dicey stuff, but that can go toe-to-toe with the most decadent meal enders.

Cherry-Almond Clafoutis

A happy collision between custard and cake. To make your own almond flour, pulse 1¼ cups of blanched almonds in a food processor until they reach the consistency of corn meal.

butter
1 tsp.
+ 1 Tbs. sugar
¼ cup
low-fat (1%) milk
1 cup
large eggs
3
almond flour (meal)
¾ cup
whole-wheat pastry flour
¼ cup
almond extract
½ tsp.
fresh or frozen cherries, pitted
1 lb.

Preheat the oven to 325°. Butter a 9-inch square or round baking dish and sprinkle the bottom with 1 Tbs. of sugar. In a large bowl, whisk together the ¼ cup of sugar with the milk, eggs, almond flour, whole-wheat flour, and extract until the batter is smooth.

Scatter the cherries (if frozen, no need to thaw) in the baking dish and pour in the batter. Bake for about 50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool slightly before serving. Serves 8.

PER SERVING (¾ cup)

  • Calories: 180
  • Total Fat: 8 g
  • Sat Fat: 1.5 g
  • Protein: 7 g
  • Added Sugar: 2 tsp.
  • Cholesterol: 80 mg
  • Carbohydrates: 24 g
  • Fiber: 3 g

Port-Poached Plums

Use a potato peeler to remove a wide strip of orange peel. (Try to avoid the white pith that’s just below the peel.) About half the alcohol— but none of the flavor—evaporates.

3-inch strip of orange peel
1
cloves
6
cinnamon
1 stick
Port wine
2 cups
sugar
¼ cup
large, firm, red or black plums, pitted and cut into eighths
6

Push the cloves firmly into the orange peel. Combine the peel, cinnamon stick, Port, and sugar in a skillet. Bring to a boil and stir to dissolve the sugar. Add the plums and reduce the heat. Gently simmer the plums until tender, about 10 minutes.

Remove the plums, orange peel with cloves, and cinnamon stick. Discard the peel, cloves, and cinnamon. Boil the poaching liquid until reduced to about ½ cup. Allow to cool slightly and serve over the warm plums. Serves 6.

PER SERVING (8 slices)

  • Calories: 150
  • Total Fat: 0 g
  • Sat Fat: 0 g
  • Protein: 1 g
  • Added Sugar: 2 tsp.
  • Cholesterol: 0 mg
  • Carbohydrates: 28 g
  • Fiber: 2 g

Yogurt Panna Cotta

So luxuriously creamy, your guests won’t believe it’s made from fat-free yogurt.

low-fat (1%) milk
1 cup
sugar
¼-½ cup
plain powdered gelatin
1 envelope
cold water
2 Tbs.
plain fat-free Greek yogurt
2 cups
pure vanilla extract
1 tsp.
(4 cups) berries
2 pints

Yogurt Panna Cotta

In a large saucepan, heat the milk with the sugar over low heat, stirring, until the sugar is dissolved, about 3 minutes. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix the gelatin with the water and let stand for 2 minutes. Whisk the gelatin into the warm milk and let cool.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the yogurt and vanilla extract. Whisk in the milk. Pour ½ cup of the milk mixture into each of 8 serving glasses. Refrigerate until set, about 2 hours. Top with the berries. Serves 8.

PER SERVING (1 cup)

  • Calories: 130
  • Total Fat: 0.5 g
  • Sat Fat: 0 g
  • Protein: 8 g
  • Added Sugar: 1½ - 3 tsp.
  • Cholesterol: 0 mg
  • Carbohydrates: 24 g
  • Fiber: 4 g

* Dish needs to chill for 2 hours before serving.

Honey-Glazed Nectarines

You can also use firm, ripe red or black plums.

dark brown sugar
2 Tbs.
honey
¼ cup
butter
1 Tbs.
nectarines, halved and pitted
6

Stir the first 3 ingredients in a large nonstick skillet over moderately high heat until the liquid bubbles vigorously. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the nectarine halves, cut side down. Cook without stirring until the nectarines start to caramelize, about 3 minutes. Turn to coat with syrup and remove from the heat. Serve warm. Serves 6.

PER SERVING (2 nectarine halves)

  • Calories: 140
  • Total Fat: 2.5 g
  • Sat Fat: 1.5 g
  • Protein: 2 g
  • Added Sugar: 3 tsp.
  • Cholesterol: 0 mg
  • Carbohydrates: 31 g
  • Fiber: 2 g

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