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Low-Calorie Liqueur, and Cherries

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Swamped with calories from too many holiday parties? Then you may want to celebrate the New Year with a dessert that gives the same satisfaction as rich, guilt-inducing treats . . . but without the consequences.

This seemingly impossible feat is performed by something called “skinny Russian pie.” The recipe turned up on a tag attached to a new product that is just what’s needed for this time of year. It’s Sweet ‘N Low Coffee Liqueur, an almost sugarless drink formulated and produced in Mexico.

Only enough sugar is added to meet the legal definition of a liqueur, says Albert Berentsen, president of Light Spirits International, a Glendale-based company that is importing the product. Then Sweet ‘N Low sugar substitute takes over. Berentsen, who supervised the development of the formula at a lab in Mexico City, says the calorie content is about half that of other coffee liqueurs.

A slice of skinny Russian pie, therefore, contains just 135 calories. The filling combines one-half cup of the liqueur with one quart low-fat vanilla frozen yogurt and one cup non-dairy whipped topping. You pour this mixture into a chocolate crumb crust composed of 1 1/2 cups crushed chocolate wafers and three tablespoons margarine, pressed into a nine-inch pie plate. Freeze the crust before filling, then freeze the whole pie until firm.

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The full, mellow coffee flavor of the liqueur makes it a good mixer for desserts and for drinks. You’ll notice, however, that it is thinner in consistency than the syrupy brands now on the market.

Recently introduced to Los Angeles, Sweet ‘N Low coffee liqueur is available in wine and liquor shops such as Red Carpet Liquor in Glendale, Flask Liquor in Studio City and MGM Liquor in Woodland Hills, and it will soon move into chain supermarkets. The suggested retail price is $12.99 for a 750-milliliter bottle.

Another product that goes light on sugar is Trader Joe’s pitted morello cherries in light syrup. The cherries are imported from Hungary, and the label even specifies that they were picked during the 1991 harvest. The hefty 1-pound, 9-ounce jar costs only $1.69.

That’s a bargain for cherry-pie lovers. Try them also for cheesecake topping, over blintzes or in cherries jubilee instead of the usual dark sweet cherries. You may have to add more sugar because these cherries are tart. Processed without artificial colors, flavors or preservatives, they have a nice natural flavor, as if some Hungarian housewife had put them up at home.

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If you’re tired of over-sugared cereals, try a granola from Trader Joe’s that reduces the sweetness to a decent level. The market chain carries lots of granolas, so read the labels carefully to pick out the one that is sweetened only with malted barley. (The others get their sugary taste from several fruit juice concentrates.) The malted barley mix contains, in addition to the sweetener, rolled oats, soy oil, rye and barley flakes, cashews, sliced almonds and sunflower and sesame seeds. I add raisins and low-fat milk, and that combination provides enough energy for a vigorous morning workout. The price is $1.29 for a one-pound sack.


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