Healthy takes on classic sweets



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Dessert is one of life’s greatest pleasures, and the occasional indulgence is a must. However, there are going to be times in between those special occasions when you may crave your favorite sweet treat but don’t want to veer too far from your usual healthy habits. Luckily, there are a slew of recipes that offer healthier alternatives to the treats we all know and love. These goodies are kinder to your body without sacrificing flavor.


Fit frosting

Frosting is so much more than just a coating for cake. It’s nice and thick, which makes it a perfect dip, and one of the most fun ways to eat it is straight out of the bowl or can. Of course, this is not even remotely healthy and will most likely make you feel kind of gross, but a better choice is here! Amanda Platt, the blogger behind The Skinny Fork, has created Skinny Funfetti Cake Batter Dip, a glorious concoction that tastes just like frosting out of the can without the aftertaste of regret. Greek yogurt adds tang and protein while giving the dip a rich consistency. The recipe does call for boxed cake mix, which is not exactly health food, but it’s cheap and, when combined with the other ingredients, makes a satisfying dip that won’t sit like a rock in your gut and offers more nutrition than your standard frosting. Each serving has 167.5 calories, 3.5 grams of protein and only 3 grams of fat.  

Photo by Jessica Mendez


Milk bar madness

Momofuku Milk Bar is one of my favorite bakeries. Pastry Chef Christina Tosi is known for her creative versions of classic desserts. One of Tosi’s brilliant creations is a Cake Truffle made from cake crumbs and frosting in fun flavors including birthday cake. Finding a suitable substitution was not an easy task. Better with Cake’s Sugar Cookie Energy Bites were okay, but there was a creaminess that the treat lacked. Enter that luscious cake batter dip from The Skinny Fork. I crumbled my remaining energy bites, mixed them with the dip and let them set in the fridge. Now, I have a little bit of cake whenever the need arises. If you’d like to try making these, take a handful of the energy bites mixture, add a small dollop of cake batter dip and roll into a ball. Repeat until you’re all out of crumbs, refrigerate until set and enjoy! These need to stay refrigerated even after they’re done.

Photo by Jessica Mendez

Another Milk Bar favorite is the Compost Cookie, essentially a chocolate chip cookie gone mad with ingredients such as potato chips and ground coffee. I love them so much and am eternally grateful to Terry Hope Romero, author of Veganomicon and the blog Vegan Latina, for creating what she calls “a shameless hack of …the ‘compost’ cookie from Momofuku Milk Bar,” Trash Mash Cookies. These are almost impossible to mess up and have a fantastic mix of textures and flavors. Use whatever chips you have around, and don’t get hung up on having every add-in. I didn’t use peanut butter pretzels, and there’s still a great sweet-salty balance to my cookies. I also used white whole wheat flour instead of all-purpose flour, and the cookies are nice and soft inside with perfectly crisp edges. Trash Mash Cookies are definitely helping to curb my cravings until my next visit to the Milk Bar.


Peanut butter cup, remixed

Peanut butter cups are hard to resist. Plenty of recipes for homemade versions of these confections abound, but most call for lots of butter and powdered sugar. When I ran across this Raw Peanut Butter Cups recipe from Fork and Beans that uses much healthier ingredients — such as cocoa powder and coconut oil — I knew had to make them. Unfortunately, my peanut butter mixture would not set up properly, thanks to my brilliant use of olive oil instead of coconut oil. Meanwhile, my chocolate mixture, which did contain coconut oil, hardened almost immediately after pouring over my peanut butter mixture. What’s a girl to do? I wasn’t about to waste peanut butter and chocolate, so I dumped it all into a bowl, nuked it for thirty seconds and stirred the mixture until smooth. I popped the mixture into the freezer for about 45 minutes and, when it set, scooped it out a teaspoonful at a time, gave each spoonful a quick roll and made Chocolate Peanut Butter Truffles. I coated the truffles with nonpareils and shredded coconut for extra crunch. Each little candy is a pop of peanut butter cup goodness. Sometimes, kitchen experimentation doesn’t turn out exactly how you expect, but by having fun and getting creative, you could find a new way to make an old favorite.

Photo by Jessica Mendez

Whip up some of these treats to have on hand for when your life needs some extra sweetness. Tell us: what is your favorite healthy sweet treat?