Even Dieters Can Get Their Just Desserts

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

Mint springs

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.

Reserve 3 whole raspberries, then place remaining raspberries in blender container. Cover and blend 1 minute. Strain. Mix pureed raspberries and cornstarch in 1-quart saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly, until smooth and bubbly. Cook and stir 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in orange juice and lemon juices. Cover and refrigerate until chilled, 1 to 2 hours.

Prepare topping mix as directed on package, using nonfat milk. Add powdered sugar, vanilla and almond extract during last minute of beating. Reserve 1/4 cup topping. Unroll cake, removing towel. Spread remaining topping over cake. Sprinkle with almonds. Roll up carefully, top with reserved topping and whole raspberries. Serve with raspberry sauce. Makes 8 servings.

FROZEN RASPBERRY YOGURT

1 envelope unflavored gelatin

1/4 cup cold water

1/4 cup sugar

3/4 cup frozen cranberry juice cocktail concentrate, thawed

1 cup fresh or frozen unsweetened raspberries, thawed

2 cups plain low-fat yogurt

Sprinkle gelatin over cold water in small saucepan and let stand 1 minute. Stir over low heat until gelatin is dissolved, about 3 minutes. Stir in sugar.

Combine juice concentrate and raspberries in blender container and blend until smooth. While blender is running, gradually add gelatin mixture through feed cap and blend thoroughly. Blend yogurt with gelatin mixture in medium bowl. Pour into 9-inch baking pan and freeze 3 hours or until firm.

Using electric mixer or food processor, beat frozen mixture until smooth, then return to pan and freeze 3 more hours until firm. Makes about 3 1/2 cups.

PEACH CHAMPAGNE SORBET

1 teaspoon gelatin

1/4 cup water

6 peaches, quartered

1 cup sugar, about

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 cups Champagne

Soften gelatin in water in saucepan. Stir over low heat until gelatin dissolves. Combine peaches, sugar (to taste depending upon sweetness of peaches) and lemon juice in large bowl and mix well to combine. Place half of mixture in blender and blend until smooth. Repeat with remaining half of peach mixture.

Combine gelatin, Champagne and peach puree. Turn into metal pan and freeze until mushy, overnight if necessary. Remove from freezer and beat until smooth. Refreeze until firm. Makes about 2 quarts.

SUMMER BERRY MERINGUE PIE

3 egg whites

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar

2/3 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

1 pint strawberries, hulled and halved

3 tablespoons orange liqueur

1 teaspoon sugar

1 pint blackberries or blueberries, drained

1 pint raspberries, drained

Beat egg whites until foamy in large bowl. Add salt and cream of tartar. Beat in sugar, 1 tablespoon at time, beating until stiff and glossy. Fold in almond extract. Spray 9-inch pie plate with non-stick vegetable coating spray. Spread meringue in pan, covering bottom and sides, but not rim. Make sides little thicker than bottom and 1/2-inch higher than rim of plate.

Bake at 250 degrees 1 hour or until firm. Turn oven off and let meringue dry in oven until oven cools. Do not open oven door until completely cooled.

Combine strawberries, liqueur and sugar in medium bowl. Cover and chill 1 hour, turning berries occasionally. Add blackberries and raspberries. Spoon fruit into meringue shell. Serve immediately. Makes 8 servings.

NECTARINE-BRANDY SORBET

6 large nectarines, quartered

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup brandy

2 teaspoons lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest

Puree nectarines in blender to measure about 3 to 4 cups. Add sugar and heat slowly in saucepan until sugar dissolves. Stir brandy, lemon juice and zest into puree and pour into canister of ice cream freezer. Freeze according to manufacturer's directions. Makes 10 servings.

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