Posts Tagged 'chocolate'

White Chocolate Panna Cotta

I have been wracking my brain for weeks trying to remember a lovely, light dessert that I made a few years ago for some friends. I remembered that it was like individual pudding molds, sitting in some sort of fruit puree. Then I remembered that it was lemony, and I did a search of lemon desserts. And there it was: panna cotta. Panna cotta, from the Italian “cooked cream” is an Italian dessert made by simmering together milk, cream and sugar, adding some gelatin, and letting it cool until set. It is often served with fruit, either cooked or raw. And it can be very low in fat and remarkably easy to make.

I was trying to think of a Valentine’s Day dessert, so instead of the lemon panna cotta, I made one with white chocolate. You can decorate these any way you want: with candy hearts
panna cotta with hearts
gel icing,
panna cotta with gel

or the way I liked it best, with sugared strawberries
panna cotta with strawberries
White Chocolate Panna Cotta

1 envelope unflavored gelatin
2 cups fat-free half-and-half, divided
3 ounces white chocolate, chopped (See NOTE)
1 cup fat-free sweetened condensed milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
panna cotta ingredients

Sprinkle gelatin over 1 cup fat free half-and-half in a small saucepan; let stand 1 to 2 minutes.
panna cotta gelatin
Cook, stirring constantly, over medium heat 3 minutes or until gelatin dissolves. Watch so it doesn’t burn.  Remove from heat. Add chocolate, stirring until chocolate melts. I found I had to stir quite vigorously to get it to melt…maybe chopped chocolate would have worked better.
panna cotta stirring
Gradually stir in remaining 1 cup half-and-half, condensed milk, and vanilla. Pour 1/2 cup custard into each of 6 stemmed glasses or 6-ounce custard cups.
panna cotta in bowls

Cover and chill 8 hours or until ready to serve.  Turn out on a plate, or eat it straight from the bowl or glass. Makes 6 servings at 4.3 grams of fat/serving

NOTE: I happened to have white chocolate chips on hand, so I used them.  They were hard to melt into the half and half. I think it would be better to use a high quality white chocolate bar, partly because the chopped chocolate might melt better, but also because the flavor of the white chocolate dominates this dessert, and probably high quality white chocolate would be better. If you use the chips, you might want to chop them up a bit.

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Chocolate Pumpkin Bundt Cake

It’s cold and snowy, so it’s a good time to turn on the oven to warm the kitchen. This is an easy cake, despite what may seem like a lot of ingredients. It is very moist because of the pumpkin, and has sort of a mysterious spice taste. I served this as a dessert, which was wonderful. But it is a big cake, and I was able to slice the leftovers and lay them out on a plate to bring to another occasion requiring a “food offering.”  I actually think it made quite a few more than 16 servings, which the recipe, originally from Eating Well, specified.  I made the cake a bit lower fat than the original recipe by reducing the amount of canola oil.  This meant I could eat the cake with a large dollop of whipped cream (canned)’ which only adds about 3 grams of fat. It was also good with low-fat vanilla ice cream.
chocolate pumpkin cake piece
I don’t think the glaze is really necessary – it’s more decorative than anything else – and if you plan to serve the cake more than one time, it soaks into the cake and makes it a little sticky.

Chocolate Pumpkin Bundt Cake

1 cup all-purpose, flour
3/4 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, (not Dutch-process)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup nonfat buttermilk (I used regular low fat buttermilk)
1 15-ounce can unsweetened pumpkin puree
3/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 large egg white, at room temperature
1 Tablespoon canola oil
3 Tablespoons applesauce
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Glaze
1/2 cup packed confectioners’ sugar
1 Tablespoon nonfat buttermilk
2 tablespoons mini chocolate chips, or toasted chopped nuts (see note)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat a 12-cup Bundt pan with cooking spray.

Whisk all-purpose flour, whole-wheat flour, granulated sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice and salt in a medium bowl. Blend buttermilk, pumpkin puree and brown sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer on low speed. Beat in whole egg and egg white. Stir in oil, applesauce, corn syrup and vanilla. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture, stirring until just combined. Don’t overbeat.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake the cake until a wooden skewer inserted in the center comes out with only a few moist crumbs attached, 1 to 1 1/4 hours. Let cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Remove from the pan and let cool completely on the rack, about 2 hours.

To glaze and garnish cake: Combine confectioners’ sugar and 1 tablespoon buttermilk in a small bowl, stirring until completely smooth. Place the cake on a serving plate and drizzle the glaze over the top; garnish with chocolate chips (or chopped nuts) while the glaze is still moist.  Makes 16 generous servings at about 3 grams of fat/serving.

NOTE: I decided to put the mini chocolate chips into the cake instead of on it, to give an extra taste of chocolate to this very chocolaty cake.

Cake is served on my grandma's glass cake plate

Cake is served on my grandma’s glass cake plate

Chocolate-flecked Rum Cheesecake

I mentioned that I brought both the crab cups and cheesecake to our office holiday potluck.  Here is the cheesecake. The original recipe was from Susan Purdy’s “Let Them Eat Cake”, which has enough wonderful dessert recipes to satisfy your sweet tooth without expanding your hips.

This cheesecake has lots of good things in it – rum chocolate, cream cheese – what’s not to like? It doesn’t taste like low fat. It is a little fussy because you have to put the springform pan in a water bath to bake it. But the majority of the mixing happens in the food processor. You’ll also notice that the crumb crust is barely there.  It’s just enough to be able to lift a slice off the pan. I always thought that the crust detracted from the creamy cheesecake anyway.

Chocolate-Flecked Rum Cheesecake

Crumb Crust
Butter-flavor cooking spray
3 Tablespoons chocolate wafer crumbs
1 Tablespoon granulated sugar

Batter
2 ounces of semisweet chocolate, divided
¼ cup unsifted cake flour
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
¼ teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 cups nonfat cottage cheese
1½ cups (12 ounces) light cream cheese (block style) at room temperature
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
3-4 Tablespoons dark rum
1¼ cups granulated sugar
1 large egg plus 2 large egg whites.

Position rack in center of oven and preheat oven to 325. Coat the inside of an 8 inch springform pan with the cooking spray. Cut a sheet of heavy duty aluminum foil large enough to fit around the springform pan. Mold it loosely (for now) around the springform pan. Remove the pan from the foil and set the foil aside. Locate a large roasting pan capable of holding the springform pan and have it ready. (It’s best to do this before you are dealing with a cake pan full of batter.)

In a small bowl, blend together the chocolate wafer crumbs and 1 tablespoon of sugar. Dust the bottom of the prepared baking pan with this mixture, making sure that excess crumbs are spread out evenly. Set the pan aside.

Grate 1 ounce of the chocolate over wax paper on the medium holes of a box grater. Set aside.

Place a sifter over a medium-sized bowl, and sift together the flour, cornstarch, baking soda and salt. Whisk in the grated chocolate.

Place the non-fat cottage cheese in a strainer set over a bowl. Cover the cheese with a piece of plastic wrap and press on it with your hand to force out any excess liquid.  Place the cottage cheese in a food processor and process for 2 to 3 full minutes until it is absolutely smooth. Scrape down the bowl and blade once or twice. Add the cream cheese (I added it in pieces) and process until smooth. Add the vanilla, rum, sugar, egg and egg whites and pulse to blend. Add the dry ingredients all at once and pulse only to combine. Do not overwork batter.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Place the pan into the molded foil and press the foil tightly to the pan so no water can penetrate. Place the foil-wrapped pan in the roasting pan. Add hot water to reach about 1/3 of the way up the springform pan sides. Bake for one hour until the top is dry and glossy and you can touch the surface lightly without leaving a mark. Turn off the oven and leave the cake inside with the door closed for an hour.

Remove the cake from its water bath, remove the foil, and cool completely on a rack. Refrigerate, covered completely in foil of plastic wrap, for at least 4 hours or overnight. Grate one ounce of semisweet chocolate and sprinkle over cake before serving (or if you are ambitious, make chocolate curls to top the cake).

Makes 12 servings at 6 grams of fat/serving.

In all its gooey delicious splendor!

Chocolate Zucchini Bread

Someone gave me an immense yellow zucchini.

Now I love yellow squash, and I have been eating them from the garden sautéed, in soup, and in stews. But this squash had gone way beyond the delicate structure of spring and summer zucchini. It had grown fat and swollen – well beyond delicate. I knew it would be too pulpy to eat plain. So I grated it coarsely and searched for recipes. Besides, it’s baking weather, so that the oven can keep my kitchen and little family room warm.

This moist and very chocolate-y zucchini bread is a combination of many recipes, converted to low fat. Usually, I prefer muffins, but since I wasn’t sure how this would work out, I decided a loaf would be safer for the experiment.  Now that I’ve tried it, I think it would also make great muffins.  I sliced it and froze about half the slices to put in my lunch. It freezes beautifully.

Chocolate Zucchini Bread

2½ Tablespoons of butter
3 Tablespoons applesauce
1 1/3 cups sugar
2 eggs
1½  cups grated zucchini
1/3 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
6 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
¼ cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar together. Beat in applesauce and eggs. Add water, and vanilla and stir. Beat in flour, baking soda, salt, baking powder, cocoa powder and pumpkin pie spice. Fold in grated zucchini and chocolate chips. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan.

Bake until wooden pick inserted into center comes out clean, about 1 hour. Cool 10 minutes, and remove from pan. Makes 12 servings at about 4 grams of fat/serving.

Chocolate Hazelnut Brownie Bites

This is heaven in a brownie bite.

Have I mentioned that I love Nutella, that creamy chocolate and hazelnut spread. I had always avoided it, because it seemed that by its very nature it would have too many fat grams for regular use – but then I read the label and discovered that it had less fat per serving than peanut butter, and my love affair began.  I love Nutella on bananas:

I love it on banana bread (or regular bread, for that matter):

I love it on French Toast:

So when the potluck announcement said H-Q (that’s me) bring desserts, I knew what I had to do.  The original recipe came from Sunset magazine, and made 8 humongous brownies.  I honestly don’t know how you could eat one of those big brownies, since my brownie bites were very rich even for one piece – and the only thing I did to them was swap out the eggs for egg substitute.

I expect they would freeze well if you had leftovers, but don’t expect any.  The ones I brought were almost all gone before the main course came off the grill (life is short, eat dessert first), and I took an empty plate home.

Chocolate Hazelnut Brownie Bites

Cooking spray
½ cup butter
1 ounce unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
1 cup sugar
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
½ cup egg substitute
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ teaspoon salt
¾ cup flour
½ cup chocolate hazelnut spread (Nutella)

Preheat oven to 350°. Spray 2 mini muffin pans (24 total muffins) thoroughly with cooking spray.

Microwave the 1/2 cup butter in a heatproof bowl until melted. Add chocolate, stirring until melted.  Use the best quality chocolate that you can for richer flavor, and make sure that the chocolate is finely chopped:

Add sugar and cocoa to the chocolate mixture and stir to blend. I mixed this by hand and stirred thoroughly after each ingredient was added. Stir in egg substitute, vanilla, and salt. Add flour ¼ cup at a time and stir until smooth. Spoon batter evenly into muffin cups.

Use a half teaspoon measure to spoon a heaping half teaspoon of Nutella on the top of each brownie bite.  Press gently into the brownie bite so it is still on top, but sinks in a little.

Bake until a toothpick inserted into the brownie part comes out with just a few moist crumbs, about 15 minutes. Let cool on a rack about 10 minutes. Loosen brownies from pans, move to rack, and cool completely.  This make 24 brownie bites at about 7 grams of fat/brownie.  Yes, I know that these are not the lowest fat dessert ever, but they are very good, and won’t break the “fat bank” as an occasional treat or a party dessert.

Chocolate Mistake Cookies

The latkes were not the only disaster for the Hannukah party.  For the inevitable potluck, I planned to make a plate of cookies, including the famous lemon bars and an old recipe I found among my clippings called “Chocolate Crinkles”.  Something, however, went terribly wrong.  I should have realized something was amiss when the recipe said to stir the chocolate into the dry ingredients with a wooden spoon. Mine was way too stiff for that, and I needed to put it into my heavy-duty mixer.  I should have realized there was a problem when the recipe said to put the dough into the refrigerator to chill for a couple of hours until it was stiff enough to roll into balls.  Mine was already more than stiff enough. But I dutifully put it into the refrigerator to chill while I made the lemon bars.  Then I took out the rock-hard dough, and realized that the recipe said to put the remaining cup of confectioners’ sugar into a bowl to coat the dough balls.  What remaining confectioners’ sugar?  I had mixed the entire 2 1/2 cups specified into the batter. You see, the recipe didn’t say 2 1/2 cups, divided, just 2 1/2 cups, and I was in my usual hurry and read the subsequent instructions quickly.

But what was I to do. The potluck was in only a few hours, and I had run completely out of flour, eggs, and other baking ingredients.  So I rolled the very stiff batter into balls, coated them with confectioners’ sugar, put them on the baking sheet  – and baked.  The worst that could happen, I reasoned, would be that I would only have lemon bars to take with me.  Unbelievably, they chocolate cookies came out great.  They were slightly crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside.  They were very chocolaty.  Everyone loved them.  So I decided to provide the recipe as I made them.

Chocolate Mistake Cookies

2 cups all-purpose flour
3 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar, divided
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch process)
2 1/2 Tablespoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 1/2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
3 1/2 Tablespoons canola oil
1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup light corn syrup
1 1/2 Tablespoons vanilla extract
4 large egg whites

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray one or two baking sheets with cooking spray.

In the large bowl of a mixer, sift together flour, 2 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In a medium-size heavy saucepan, combine chocolate and oil and warm over very low heat, stirring frequently, until just smooth. Be careful that chocolate does not burn.  Remove from heat and let cool slightly. Stir in brown sugar, corn syrup, and vanilla until well-blended. Using a whisk, beat egg whites into the mixture until no lumps of brown sugar remain.  Gently stir the chocolate mixture into the dry ingredients, beating on low until no lumps remain.  Dough will be very stiff.

Put the remaining 1 cup of confectioners’ sugar into a shallow bowl. Dusting your hands with additional confectioner’s sugar, roll portions of the dough into one inch balls. Dredge each ball in confectioners’ sugar until heavily coated. Arrange balls on baking sheets 1 inch apart.  Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until the tops are almost firm when tapped. Let stand about 2 minutes until the cookies firm up slightly. Transfer cookies to a wire rack and cool completely.  Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days’ freeze for longer storage.  Makes about 5 dozen cookies with 2 grams of fat/cookie.

Here they are nestled on a plate of lemon bars.  They don’t even look like mistakes.

Chocolate Marble Banana Bread

Still cold. Makes me feel like baking. Turn on the oven and the kitchen becomes warm and cozy. Since my family room is part of the kitchen, I have a toasty place to read and catch up on household tasks at the kitchen table. I’ve already baked 2 loaves of my regular no fat banana bread, one of which is sliced and in the freezer to take for lunches. I still had bananas, so I decided to make a banana bread that I made quite a few years ago.

Back then, the non-profit organization that I manage was just starting out, and we wanted to have a press conference to announce some accomplishment – I don’t remember the details.  Knowing that  mostly junior reporters get sent out to cover low-level community events, we decided to lure the press with home made baked goods. We were then small and new, and we invited everyone we knew for goodies so the press would see a little crowd. We did get some television coverage, which thrilled us.  This was one of the home baked goodies I made.

The original recipe came from Cooking Light. It is not as dense and moist as my regular banana bread, and it seems much sweeter to me, almost like cake.

Chocolate Marble Banana Bread

2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons butter, softened
2 Tablespoons unsweetened applesaucw
1 1/2 cups mashed ripe banana (about 3 bananas)
1/2 cup egg substitute
1/3 cup plain non-fat yogurt
1/2 cup  semisweet chocolate chips
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350°.  Spray an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2-inch loaf pan (see note) with cooking spray.

Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups, and level. Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt, stirring with a whisk.

Place sugar and butter in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended (about 1 minute). Add banana, egg substitute, applesauce and yogurt. Beat until blended. Add flour mixture; beat at low speed just until moist.

Place chocolate chips in a medium microwave-safe bowl, and microwave at HIGH 1 minute or until almost melted, stirring until smooth. Cool slightly. Add 1 cup of the batter to chocolate, stirring until well combined. Spoon chocolate batter alternately with plain batter into prepared pan. (I did 3 layers of plain batter and 2 of chocolate.) Swirl batters together using a knife. Bake at 350° for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes in pan on a wire rack; remove from pan. Cool completely on wire rack.  This makes 12 servings at about 4 grams of fat/serving.

marble banan

NOTE: This recipe called for an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2-inch loaf pan, which I used.  I wasn’t totally satisfied with the way it baked – a little too dark around the edges.  I think the last time I made it I used a regular 9 inch loaf pan, and it might work better in that pan.  Also, the original recipe said 16 slices, which in the smaller loaf pan was really not realistic.  A slice would be only /2 inch thick.

HINT: Many recipes call for softened butter.  I don’t use much butter, so I keep my butter in the freezer.  When I need softened butter, I really do not want to defrost an entire stick to cut off a piece and and then refreeze it.  But trying to hack off two tablespoons from a hard frozen stick of butter really isn’t feasible. So I cut thin slices off the stick of butter until I have the proper amount. The thin pieces soften quicker than a whole chunk, too.


ABOUT KAREN

I have lost 200 pounds. I did not do it through surgery – I don’t like knives and needles – or by joining a club, vigorous exercise, or rigorous dieting. I did it by gourmet cooking. To be precise, by cooking low fat, really delicious food. I love to cook as much as I love to eat. Food magazines are some of my favorite reading. I would feel deprived if I couldn’t have the sensuous experience of good food crossing my lips. This blog is about my perpetual feast, my passionate love of food, with recipes, photos, and occasional advice and principles that I have learned along the way.

More about me.

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