February – Healthy Desserts

February is thought of as a “heart” month where one thinks of love, hearts and those whom they love and want to keep “heart-healthy”.  And as such, I thought I would take the time to blog some healthy desserts.          

Just by baking a snack or desert at home you have already made a healthier choice because you will not use dyes, preservatives or chemicals – not to mention you know exactly what ingredients you used.  These days, in addition to portion control, people are trying to cut back on their intake of sugars, fats, gluten, and cholesterol.  Often, in the quest to make a recipe healthier people just remove the “offensive” ingredient and then wonder why it doesn’t taste good.  The truth is, baking is a science. All baking ingredients serve different functions.  Understanding the functions of ingredients is really important before making substitutions without compromising flavor and quality.

Here is a very simplified description of the role baking ingredients play:

Provide Moisture
Provide Structure
Fats – Butter, Shortening, Oil
Whole Eggs, Egg Whites
Egg Yolks
Acids – Baking Soda, Lemon Juice, Vinegar

Let me give you an example based on this chart:  Let’s say I want to make cookies, but want to eliminate the sugar.  If I eliminate the sugar, aside from the sweetness,  I would lose the tenderizing, moisturizing function.  My cookies would be awful, really dry and crumbly.  But if I can substitute part of the sugar and then compensate with another product then I will have delicious, low-sugar cookies.   Likewise, if I was making a cake and eliminated the eggs because I am watching my cholesterol, I would be missing the structure that a cake requires and my cake would collapse.  The Key to Successful Ingredient Substituting is simply this: don’t replace all of the ingredient, but use other ingredients which will compensate for the function.

As we work our way through February and healthy desserts, you’ll learn how to make ingredient substitutions that you’ll then be able to apply to your own recipes.  I’ll give you tips along the way and ideas to inspire you to try your own experimenting.


About bakingway

Baker/Pastry Chef for over 25 years.

Posted on January 31, 2011, in baKING Tips. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. This is a great topic! I just did a class on this- trying to get people to rethink the ingredients in the recipe and figuring out what and how to substitute. I really like the idea you put forth- don’t replace ALL of the ingredient. That is a really good way to think about it. You are so right about baking being a science and understanding what functions of the ingredients is key. Thanks again for making it so clear!

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