Tag Archives: healthy desserts

Sweetness for the New Year

Growing up there were certain food pairings that always went together: peanut butter and jelly, Oreo cookies and milk, apples and honey.  As the Jewish High Holiday season approaches, my mind and my appetite starts to shift away from blueberries and peaches and to autumn’s bounty of apples.  

On Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, it is traditional to dip apples into honey for it signifies the wish for sweetness in the coming year – but really any reason is a good reason to mix apples with sweetness.  The holiday season is always filled with multiple meals, treats and often overindulging, this healthier take on a traditional apple cake will set the year off on a healthier and sweet note, and that’s what I always wish for good health and sweetness.  
Whole Wheat Apple Muffins, adapted from Smitten Kitchen
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup of apple sauce
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 tbsps dark brown sugar, packed
1 large egg
1 cup non-fat greek yogurt
2 large apples, coarsely chopped
Preheat the oven to 450°F.
I have to start off by saying that I played with the ingredients for this recipe to create something lighter, and more sponge cake like than a traditional dense muffin – although I do love a good muffin.  

Let’s get started, all of the dry ingredients are in one bowl.  Because I subbed out half of the butter, I halved the amount of all-purpose flour and added half a cup of cake flour to help keep the fluffiness.  I also used less sugar than the original recipe called for because of the natural and added sugars in apple sauce.  As a side note, we just got fresh cinnamon, and the aroma is amazing.

In a separate bowl mix the butter, apple sauce, and sugars.  When the butter is broken up enough – it won’t look like normal creamed butter and sugar because the liquid content of the apple sauce, don’t worry.  Now blend in the egg.  It still is not going to be pretty, don’t worry.  Now add in the yogurt.  I use non-fat, sugar free Greek yogurt, because I don’t want to add extra sugars that are hidden in most yogurts.

After you blend the yogurt it will resemble what you probably expected the mixture to look like all along – phew!  Slowly add the dry ingredients to to the wet mixture.

Time to get to the apples.  I am partial to granny smith apples.  I use them for my apple pies or just for snack.  I love their tart flavor and crisp bite.  I am sure you could use your favorite variety.  Make sure to eat some apples a long the way, that’s what I did.

With a large spoon mix in the apples.  I have to warn you at this point the batter is sticky, and not at all like a traditional cake dough.  It more closely resembles a cookie dough.  Don’t worry about it.  Seriously, apples and sugar and yogurt and flour is not something to worry about.

Plop large spoonfuls of the batter into muffin cups or if you run out of papers as I did eventually just make small balls on a cookie tray.  For extra sweetness you can sprinkle a bit of brown sugar on top of the muffins.

Pop these into a 450 degree oven for 10 minutes, and then lower the oven temperature to 400 degree for another 5 minutes.  That is it.  It is a fast, fast baking recipe.  Kind of perfect for the holiday season when you are cooking/basting/baking all day and don’t have time to slave over dessert – and probably even better to save for yourself for a treat the next day.

Wishing you good baked goods, health and happiness.

Less Sweet Sweet Stuff

To work in my office is to experience a constant parade of sweets.  They come in all shapes, store bought treats from a coworker’s vacation, classic baked goods from a family baking adventure, ice cream parties to celebrate jobs well-done, and everyone’s favorite, snack on Friday.

On one particular day my office had an extra large Pineapple Upside Down Cake, Chocolate Bombe cake (that was nearly a foot tall), and Ben and Jerry’s Make Your Own Sundae in the lobby.  After partaking and indulging that afternoon I decided to start skipping the sugar, or at least be more selective.  I’ve since realized that having it less often really does make it more of a treat.  Have no fear, sugar isn’t banned – I have enjoyed a few s’mores since our fiesta – I had to make sure their deliciousness wasn’t a fluke.  It wasn’t!

Cutting back on traditional sugar though didn’t mean I was cutting back on baking.  Looking in my refrigerator for inspiration I found these carrots.  They were too soft to dip, it’s still too hot to consider roasting root vegetables, so obviously there was no better place for them that in a cookie!

Sugar Free Carrot Cookies
¾ Cup of Whole Wheat Flour
½ Cup of Cake Flour
1 Cup of Whole Oatmeal (dry)
1 tsp of baking powder
A dash of sea salt

1 Cup Shredded Carrots
½ Cup of Olive Oil
½ Cup of Maple Syrup
Spring of fresh grated ginger

First mix all of the dry ingredients (flours, oatmeal, baking powder, and salt) and then pour in the shredded/grated carrots.  (You can decide how finely grated you want your carrots to be, but keep an eye on them, you do not want carrot juice.)  You can mix these all with a fork, or have one less thing to wash and mix it with your fingers (that’s what I did).

Then pour in the wet ingredients (oil and syrup).  We’re you going to plug in your mixer?  You can skip that to.  I used a soup spoon to mix this together – a soup spoon!  Nothing is easier than that.

Then just roll them out into little balls, about the size of a tablespoon.  I used a Silpat mat on one sheet and a piece of tin foil on the other.  The tin foil cookies’ bottoms were darker, some might say a bit on the burnt side, but they still got rave reviews – I think the extra color caramelized that sugars in the syrup.  Either way, I don’t think you can go wrong.

When they are out of the oven you are going to want to eat them all.  We did do that, so I speak from experience.  They are delightful plain, but they are decadent with a little swipe of cream cheese. These made a terrific guilt-free mid-week dessert, and I can foresee them making an appearance at future brunches and snacks.