Low fat baking recipes

These 10 Indulgent Desserts Are Seriously Low Fat on the Sly

You don’t have to let dessert be your undoing. Just take a look at these beauties — each of them scores low in fat but high in satisfaction. Enjoy!

1. Berry Custard Pie

“Berries in a light custard sauce. Unbelievably easy to make, with an incredibly decadent taste. Despite that, this recipe is ultra low fat. Can also be made with peaches, or a combination of peaches and raspberries.” — Lea Conner

Image zoom Photo by Meredith

2. Meringue Crust

Look at what you can create with whipped egg whites. This easy recipe makes one large meringue or several small ones to fill with custard and/or fresh fruit. Be sure to line your pan or baking sheet with parchment paper so the crust won’t stick. Kim’s Cooking Now! says, “So easy to make, yet so elegant!”

Image zoom Photo by Kim’s Cooking Now!

3. Can’t Tell They’re Low-fat Brownies

“These brownies are DELISH. I never take the time to write reviews but loved these so much I thought I would make the time. Used 1/2 cup applesauce instead of prunes and substituted out the white flour for whole wheat flour and used organic sugar. Love the texture and sweetness! Thanks for sharing!” — Andrea Ridings Liberty

Image zoom Photo by Meredith

4. Lite Carrot Cake

To make cupcakes instead of a sheet cake, simply bake the batter in a lined muffin tin and reduce the baking time. Top with a low-fat cream cheese frosting. Steffyp says, “This is great! I did not miss the added fat at all. The texture is perfectly moist, with just enough sweetness.”

Image zoom Photo by CC

5. Angel Food Cake II

BanannaNut raves, “I don’t like angel food cake and this was also my first try making it. It was a hit as my Grandma’s 90th Birthday Cake. It was completely demolished. Easy to follow, simple recipe!” If this is your first attempt at making angel food cake, check out this video for step-by-step instructions.

Image zoom Photo by Meredith

6. Chocolate Crinkles II

“So good they always come out great, but the dough is a lot easier to handle if you put it in the fridge overnight, which is what I do.” — Anabella

Image zoom Photo by Dianne

7. ABC Pudding – Avocado, Banana, Chocolate Delight

“I was intrigued by the ingredients. You mostly taste banana and then chocolate. If you really look for it, you can taste a tiny bit of avocado. I topped mine with a little fat free whipped cream…not vegan but tasty.” — LindaT

Image zoom Photo by Melissa Goff

8. Creamy Guilt-Free Fudge

To get thicker pieces of fudge, pour the mixture into an 8×8 pan. BAILEY BEE says, “This fudge is absolutely delicious! Everyone that has tried it, loves it! Thanks for a quick recipe — it has become one of my favorites.”

Image zoom Photo by Meredith

9. Low-Fat Pumpkin Flan

“First I want to say that I am a Spaniard and have tasted many a flan. I know my flans because I have grown up eating them my whole life. Your recipe has completely impressed my Spanish family and this is the third year we will be using this recipe to celebrate autumn.” — SeƱorita Cyra

10. Fresh Fruit and Yogurt Ice Pops

“I also make this every summer for my boys. Just as my Grandma did for us kids. This also works with frozen berries. Depending on how sweet your berries and if you use non-fat plain yogurt, you may not need the extra sugar at all.” — Sarah Jo

Image zoom Photo by Sherri

Low fat doesn’t mean lifeless. Cakes, ice cream, pie, even the queen of desserts — cheesecake — can be delicious even when the recipes go light.

Just ask WebMD Weight Loss Clinic’s “Recipe Doctor,” Elaine Magee, MPH, RD, the author of The Flax Cookbook and Tell Me What To Eat If I Have Diabetes. When it comes to lightening recipes, there are no hard-and-fast rules, Magee says. Experiment. Use a fat-free substitute for just half the fat — don’t try to cut all the fat.

“It has to be enjoyable and satisfying, or you’ll be more likely to overindulge,” says Magee. “Some people like my light versions better than the original.”

Her top 10 list of tasty, low-fat desserts:

1. Fresh fruit. Whether it’s a cooked-fruit compote, a bowl of chilled strawberries, or an artfully sliced pear on a plate, it’s hard to beat fresh fruit for a tasty dessert. Dress it up with a swirl of chocolate syrup. A small wedge of cheese also works well with pears and apples.

2. Angel food cake. It’s low in calories, with no fat. Fresh fruit (or fruit puree) and a small dollop of light Cool Whip makes it more interesting. You can also glaze the cake with a fruit juice/powdered sugar mixture.

3. Brownies and cakes. To lighten up brownies, substitute fat-free sour cream or concentrated coffee for some of the fat. Applesauce can replace fat in spice cake recipes. In carrot cake, try pineapple juice instead of half of the oil.

4. Cheesecake. Cut the fat by using light cream cheese. “Never use all fat-free cream cheese, but you can try half fat-free cream cheese and half light if you would like,” she says. Also, cut fat in the crust by using lower-fat cookies or graham crackers and using a little less of them, cut the butter down to a couple of tablespoons instead of eight, and press just into the bottom of the pan, not the sides as well.

5. Key lime pie. Use fat-free sweetened, condensed milk instead of regular and cut the fat in the crust by adding a tablespoon of honey and a tablespoon of coconut milk (or fat-free half-and-half) instead of some of the butter. “It’s all about shaving a little bit here and there,” says Magee.

The Art of Low-fat Baking

Most commonsensical cooks can easily figure out ways to decrease fat in certain dishes: Use less oil in your pasta. Substitute fat-free or reduced-fat dairy items for their full-fat counterparts. Choose leaner cuts of beef and pork, and remove the skin from poultry.

But baking is different. Many cooks quake at the thought of attempting to change the chemistry of a cake or puttering with pastry. Quite right they are to quake, too, for the less-than-precise baker can end up with a doughy mess and a mass of disappointment.

Eating healthy should still be delicious.

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We offer answers to some of the most common questions we receive on the topic, along with helpful advice from Cooking Light Test Kitchens Director Vanessa Johnson and food scientist Shirley Corriher, author of Cookwise. They explain which changes you can easily make and which need more careful consideration. The recipes that follow demonstrate that low-fat baking is an art indeed.

What does sugar do in baked goods?

Shirley Corriher: Sugar prevents the flour proteins from joining and making gluten; gluten development would make a cake or cookie tough. In this way sugar acts as a tenderizer and can replace some of the fat in the recipe. When sugar is present in amounts above 2 tablespoons per cup of flour, the two proteins in flour that normally join with each other and water to form gluten join with the sugar instead.

Sugar also caramelizes in baking, which enriches flavors. Substituting as little as a tablespoon of corn syrup for sugar can make cookies much browner, because corn syrup browns at a lower temperature than sugar. Some sugars, like honey and brown sugar, absorb moisture from the atmosphere, which means that things baked with them will stay soft and moist longer.

Why does butter make cookies crisp, and how can you lighten cookies?

Corriher: Cookies made with butter spread during baking, which means they’re thinner. Trimming the amount of fat just a little will limit their spread. If you want to reduce the amount of butter but preserve the crispness, add a little corn syrup to the cookie dough. If you want a puffy cookie that stays soft, use shortening to limit the spread in baking.

Vanessa Johnson: Of all the desserts, cookies are truly the hardest for us to lighten. Because we use less butter, our cookies generally err on the chewy, fudgy side rather than the crisp side. However, small amounts of yogurt, applesauce, or egg whites can help give lower-fat cookies the texture of high-fat ones, as in our Cinnamon Cookies.

Why are butter and eggs necessary in cakes?

Corriher: Butter has three roles in cakes: to make the cake light and delicate by holding air bubbles produced by leaveners like baking powder or soda; to make the cake tender by coating the flour protein; and to carry rich flavors. Stick margarine and shortening can substitute for butter; in fact, shortening is already aerated before you buy it, so it can produce a fine, tender cake. A margarine spread that is soft at room temperature can’t substitute for butter, though.

Eggs have two parts, whites and yolks, which do two different things. Whites are an incredible drying and leavening agent, and yolks are nature’s great emulsifiers for creamy texture.

Why can’t you replace all the eggs in baking with egg substitute?

Corriher: Egg substitutes are usually composed of egg whites and oil, along with other ingredients like coloring and stabilizer. Because they don’t have yolks, they can’t serve as emulsifiers; it’s the natural lecithin in the yolks that helps make an emulsion.

The lack of yolks is the reason you can’t use egg substitute to make custards, either. With no yolks, custards wouldn’t be smooth and creamy.

Johnson: We generally use fewer yolks and more whites than an equal amount of egg substitute simply from a practicality standpoint: Everyone usually has eggs in the fridge, but not necessarily egg substitute.

What difference does the way you measure flour make?

Johnson: It can make a terrific difference-as much as an ounce per cup of flour!

When fat is reduced in baking, the exact and precise measurement of flour becomes crucial. When a reader says she’s had a problem with one of our recipes, one of the first things we suspect is that she’s used the measuring cup to scoop flour out of the canister.

We advise readers to use the spoon-and-measure method: Stir the flour to aerate it, then lightly spoon into a dry measuring cup and level with a knife. By this method, a cup of all-purpose flour will weigh four and a half ounces. For more precise measurements, we’ve included cup and weight measures in these recipes.

Why doesn’t Cooking Light use applesauce or fruit puree to replace fat?

Johnson: Because it generally doesn’t work to do so. In our opinion, baked products made with fruit purees have an inferior texture and taste. We get far better results by simply reducing the fat.

Why does Cooking Light use sugar instead of sugar substitutes?

Johnson: Sugar is a key ingredient in baking, providing structure and mass in many desserts. Consider a cake: If you substituted artificial sweetener for sugar, you would lose the volume that sugar contributes, and the cake batter would not have enough substance to become a cake. Also, the tastes and textures of sugar substitutes may change when they’re heated.

Because sugar also acts as a tenderizer in baking, it can actually replace some of the fat in reduced-fat baked goods. Sugar substitutes don’t tenderize like sugar does.