Dessert gets a pretty bad rap. Sure, it’s the perfect way to end dinner, but one piece of chocolate cake might just add up to an entire day’s worth of calories (and let’s be honest, the last thing we want to do after a great meal is hit the gym).
Well, you’re in luck: enjoying dessert no longer has to be a catch-22. Whether you’re entertaining friends, sharing a treat with your Valentine, or rewarding yourself after a long day at the office, satisfy your sweet tooth with one of these mouth-watering, low-calorie dessert ideas — without worrying that it’s going straight to your hips.
Baby Tiramisu (pictured above)
1/2 cup non-fat ricotta cheese
2 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 tablespoons brewed espresso or strong coffee, divided
2 tablespoons bittersweet chocolate chips, melted
Directions: Combine ricotta, sugar, vanilla and cinnamon in a medium bowl. Place 6 ladyfingers in a 9×5 pan. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of espresso (or coffee). Spread the ricotta mixture over the ladyfingers. Place another layer of ladyfingers over the ricotta and drizzle with the remaining 2 tablespoons of espresso (or coffee) and melted chocolate. Refrigerate until the chocolate is set, about 30 minutes.
Nutritional information: 107 calories, 2 grams of fat.
Dark Chocolate Brownies
8 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup whole grain pastry flour
1/4 cup unsweetened natural cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup plain low-fat yogurt
1/4 canola oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease 9×13 baking pan. In either a double boiler or a heatproof bowl (set over lightly simmering water), melt butter and chocolate, stirring occasionally. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, salt, and baking soda. In a large bowl, whisk eggs and sugar until smooth. Add yogurt, oil, and vanilla and whisk to combine. Add the chocolate-butter mixture and whisk until blended. Add the flour mixture and mix until just moistened.
Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan and top with nuts (optional). Bake for 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Place on wire rack and let cool completely. Cut into 24 squares and serve.
Nutritional information: 170 calories, 10 grams of fat.
Ricotta Cheesecake with Fresh RaspberriesIngredients:
1 container (15 ounces) part-skim ricotta cheese
1/2 cup reduced fat sour cream
4 oz. Neufchatel cheese or reduced fat cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon orange zest, finely grated
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup all-fruit seedless raspberry jam
1 tablespoon orange liqueur or water
12 ounces fresh raspberries
Directions: Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Coat springform pan with cooking spray. Place ricotta in a food processor and process until smooth and creamy. Add sour cream, Neufchatel, eggs, sugar, flour, vanilla, orange zest, and salt. Mix until well blended. Pour into pan and bake until the center is set, 50 to 55 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours.
In a small saucepan, bring the jam and liqueur (or water) to a boil, stirring continuously until smooth. Remove sides of springform pan. Brush the tart with the jam mixture and top with raspberries.
Nutritional information: 295 calories, 13 grams of fat (which may seem like a lot, but most cheesecakes typically contain nearly 30 grams of fat)
Chocolate-Dipped Frozen Banana BitesIngredients:
2 cups bittersweet chocolate chips
2 tablespoons canola oil
Assorted toppings for coating bananas (like crushed Oreos, chopped peanuts, or shredded sweetened coconut)
3 ripe bananas, peeled and cut into slices 1/2 inch thick
Directions: Stir chocolate and oil in small saucepan over low heat until smooth. Let stand 15 minutes to cool. Place each topping in separate shallow dish. Line baking sheet with foil. Arrange banana slices on foil. Dip banana slice in chocolate, coating completely. Shake off excess chocolate. Drop dipped banana in 1 topping. Using clean hand, sprinkle more topping over banana to coat; transfer to foil-lined sheet. Repeat with remaining slices, chocolate, and toppings. Freeze until firm, about 3 hours, then serve.
Nutritional information: Approximately 160 calories for half of a banana (depending on toppings), 9 grams of fat.
Cocoa Angel Food CakeIngredients:
12 egg whites
3/4 cup cake flour
1 1/2 cups sugar, divided
1/4 cup baking cocoa
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 teaspoon salt
Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Let egg whites stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Sift flour, 1/2 cup sugar and cocoa together; set aside. In a mixing bowl, beat egg whites, cream of tartar and salt on high speed until soft peaks form. Add the remaining sugar, 2 tablespoons at a time, beating well after each addition. Fold in sifted dry ingredients gradually.
Spoon into an ungreased 10 inch tube pan. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until the top springs back when lightly touched and cracks feel dry. Immediately turn pan upside down and let cool completely. Loosen sides of cake from pan and remove. For an added touch, top with whipped cream and fresh berries.
Nutritional information: 150 calories, 0 grams of fat.