Category Archives: Healthier Snacks/Desserts

Summer Savory and Sweet Tarts

I often prepared these delicious individual summer tarts for lunch in the Perfect Endings Bakery Cafe. Combining the savory and the sweet makes a perfect, light and complete summer meal. Each tart starts with Puff Pastry dough, easily found in the freezer section of your grocery store, which makes it quite convenient.  As well as simple and quick, you’ll find these tarts fresh, flavorful and visually exciting!

More a “preparation” rather than recipe, I gave Rachel the instructions and asked her to test them in her home and let us know what she thought about the preparation, the combinations and especially the flavor!

“I really enjoyed trying these two recipes (perhaps not as much as my husband).  They complimented each other well, making the perfect duo.  The savory tomato, pesto, mozzarella on puff pastry was simple to make and deliciously hearty.  The crunch of the puff pastry alongside the tenderness of the tomato was divine.  This savory treat is certainly a show stopper.  It even impressed my two year old who was yelling “ooh,wow!” as I plated it for dinner.

The balsamic strawberry dessert was both sweet and tart making it a perfectly refreshing summer dessert. It was quick to make and is one of those desserts you end up craving!  I thought this dessert was a good spin off of traditional strawberry shortcake.  It could certainly be paired with some vanilla ice cream but I topped mine with whipped cream and a sprig of mint.  It was light and enjoyed by the whole family. ”  – Rachel

Savory Tart:
1) Slice large, ripe tomatoes approx. 1/4″ thick.  Place the tomatoes on a rack set on paper towels (this removes some of the moisture).
2) Cut the slightly thawed pastry dough into 4″ rounds and bake on a parchment lined sheet tray in 375 degree oven for 15-20 minutes or so until crisp and brown.
3) Spread the baked pastry with Pesto (homemade or store bought), place a slice of tomato on top and top with shredded mozzarella cheese.
4) Place the tarts back in oven until hot and cheese is melted – approx. 5 minutes
5) Serve (garnish with basil)
Sweet Tart:
1)  Slice 1 Quart of strawberries and mix in 2 Tabl. of good Balsamic Vinegar – allow to macerate in bowl on the counter while baking the pastry.
2) Cut the slightly thawed pastry dough into 4″ and brush with milk and sprinkle with sugar.
3) Bake in 375 degree oven on a parchment lined sheet pan for 15-20 minutes or so until crisp and brown.
4)  Cool pastry slightly and cover with strawberries.
5)  Dollop with whipped cream or ice cream on side and garnish with mint leaf.

Baked “Cake Donut” Muffins

Everywhere on the internet there are recipes and blogs about Baked Donut Muffins.  I love donuts – but don’t eat them anymore because I no longer eat fried foods.  I never made them at the bakery, because I hate the smell of hot oil, and well, frankly, I avoided the bagel/donut crowd and concentrated on more upscale pastries and desserts.

BUT…then I tried experimenting with my own Baked Donuts.  These donuts are identical to the cake donuts that you can find in the grocery store in regular, cinnamon and powdered sugar varieties.  The key to making these light and not heavy  is to make them like you would a cake, meaning using a mixer instead of hand mixing like a regular muffin.  The creaming of the butter and sugar makes a lighter batter.  Another important step is to not over bake.  I baked mine for 17 minutes and they were perfect. Depending on your oven, bake until they test done to the touch – but NOT brown.  This recipes makes 24 small “muffins”.  Enjoy!

In a Mixer bowl cream:
1-1/2 sticks of Butter, softened
1 cup Sugar 

2 Eggs, room temperature 

Mix into the above:
3/4 cup Milk
1/4 cup Sour Cream
1/2 tsp. Vanilla Extract 

Sift together and mix to incorporate:
3 cups AP Flour
2-1/2 tsp. Baking Powder
1/2 tsp. Baking Soda
1/2 tsp. Salt
1-1/2 tsp. Nutmeg (I know it sounds like a lot but…trust me)

Mix well to incorporate.  Spray your muffin tins (or grease).  Place small scoop into each muffin cup.  Bake in 350 degree oeven for 15-20 minutes.  Cool for 2 minutes, place in plastic ziplock bag with cinnamon sugar and/or powdered sugar and shake to coat.

Mixed Berry Crumble

It’s hard to believe but, after what seemed like a VERY snowy winter and then a single day at 80 degrees, we’ve been fooled – the SNOW is BACK!!  There are two ways to look at it: either this is a cruel trick of nature or the 80’s temp. day was a gift.  I prefer to think of the break in the weather as a gift to remind us Spring weather is coming soon.

In the meantime, how about a nice, comforting warm, mixed berry crumble?  Yea, that’s what I thought…YUM!  This recipe makes at least 4 ramekins but you really could make 5 not as stuffed ramekins. (if you don’t have ramekins, make this recipe in an 8″ X 8″ pan.)

In a bowl mix:
1 pound bag of Mixed Berries, frozen (I cut the strawberries in 1/2)
2 Tabl. Brown Sugar
1 Tabl. Cornstarch
1/2 tsp. Orange Zest
pinch of Salt

Allow the berries to slightly thaw slightly for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally.


In a small bowl combine the crumble ingredients:
1/4 cup AP Flour
1/3 cup Oatmeal, Quick (NOT INSTANT)
1/3 cup Brown Sugar
1/2 tsp. Cinnamon
1/2 tsp. Vanilla Extract

With fork or fingers work to from crumbs:
in 3 Tabl. Butter, soft

Spray 4 ramekins and fill with berry mixture.  Top with crumble.  Bake in 350 degree oven for 35 minutes or until juices run over. Serve warm.

baKING Tips for Healthier Baking

During February, I’ve shared some of the “tricks of the trade” for baking healthier snacks/desserts. My basic rule of thumb for successful substituting of healthier ingredients is “Replace don’t Remove”.  Too often, people decide to remove sugar or fat without understanding the functions of those ingredients.  Even if you could successfully remove the sugar or fat, you would be left with a dry, inedible product.

This list is not all-inclusive but following these tips, you could make your own delicious and healthy substitutions for your favorite recipe.


1)  Do NOT replace all of the fat.  Leaving some fat in, contributes to the flavor and the moisture.

2)  Do NOT remove all of the sugar called for in a recipe.  Remember that sugar has other functions than sweetening, such as adding moisture and providing structure.

3)  Do NOT replace all of the Whole Eggs with Egg Whites.  Always leave 1 whole Egg in the recipe and then substitute 2 Egg Whites for each egg called for in the recipe. (I suggest using Eggland’s Best Eggs because they are 25% lower in saturated fat and contain 10 times more Vitamin E and 2 times more Vitamin D)

4)  If substituting Whole Wheat Flour for AP Flour, be sure to use slightly less Whole Wheat Flour or increase moisture by a bit.

5)  Substitute sugar with Honey or Brown Sugar but use 1/3 less than called for. (ex. recipe says 1 cup sugar, use only 2/3 cup honey or brown sugar)

6)  Use Yogurt, Applesauce or Mashed Bananas to replace up to 2/3 of the fat called for in recipes.  Be aware of the taste each imparts to the finished product.

7)  Use 2% Milk to replace whole milk called for in a recipe.

8)  Liberally incorporate fresh, ripe fruits in recipes as they will help provide moisture and sweetness.

9)  Liberally use lemon/orange zest to add freshness and intensity of flavor.

10)  Use Dark Chocolate (60% Cacao or higher) because you can use less due to the intensity of flavor – and it’s healthier!

11)  Use Cinnamon, Ginger and other spices to “spike” the flavor.

Health Benefits of Baking Ingredients

Dark Chocolate (60% Cacao or higher) – Acts as an antioxidant – lowers High Blood Pressure.

Cinnamon – Only a small amount daily can lower Cholesterol , Diabetes, Yeast Infections and Arthritis.

Brown Sugar – Not necessarily “healthier” than  white sugar (it just has molasses added) but it does help boost flavor, so you can use less of it.

Honey – As a naturtal sweetener it provides energy, boosts immunity and you can use less of it.

Oatmeal – This grain is a great source for Nutrients, lowers Cholesterol, helps fight heart disease.

Yogurt – Loaded with Vitamins and Good Bacteria – Great replacement for fats.

Whole Wheat Flour – Excellent source of Fiber and Protein. Remember to use more moisture to compensate.

Low-fat Cornbread

Cornbread is the perfect option for breakfast or, as a side for soups and stews.  The “problem” with cornbread is that it is quite high in fat content.  In fact, my favorite recipe calls for butter and heavy cream (I know, shame on me!).  This recipe substitutes a great deal of the fat by using non-fat yogurt, egg whites and 2% milk.  We’ve used the ‘ol “keep some fat/flavor in” trick by keeping a small amount of butter and adding honey.  This recipe will make an 8″X8″ pan and if you don’t tell, no one will guess it’s reduced-fat!

In a large bowl combine:

1 cup AP Flour
3/4 cup Cornmeal
1 tsp. Baking Powder
1/2 tsp. Baking Soda
1/2 tsp. Salt




In another bowl, whisk together:

1 cup Non-Fat Yogurt
1/4 cup Honey
1/4 cup 2% Milk
1 Egg and 2 Egg Whites, only
2 Tabl. Butter, melted

Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients.  Pour batter into a spray greased 8″X8″ pan.  Bake in a 350 degree oven for 25-30 minutes.

Apple Danish

I always keep Puff Dough sheets in my freezer.  Puff Dough is so versatile – you can use it to top chicken pot pie, make appetizers or as in this case, make wonderful pastries!  This was one of my best selling pastries at the bakery.  A piece of puff dough, your favorite variety of apple, a brush of melted butter and a sprinkle of cinnamon sugar is all it takes to make this crunchy sweet treat.  These pastries are low in fat and sugar and since one apple makes 4 Danish, they are also very economical.

Since there is no real recipe these are the steps:

1)  Using a cookie cutter or glass, cut rounds out of partially frozen puff dough sheets, place them on parchment lined baking sheet.

2)  Lightly brush the pastry with melted butter.

3)  Peel, core and thinly slice apples (one apple/4 Danish).

4)  In a pinwheel pattern, arrange apples on top of pastry.

5)  Lightly brush the apples with melted butter.

6)  Sprinkle each generously with Cinnamon Sugar.

7)  (Optional) I also make a simple syrup glaze which is equal amounts of sugar and water brought to a boil and cooled.

Bake at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes until puffed and golden brown.  If desired, brush with simple syrup after removing from the oven.

Butterscotch Banana Muffins – Reduced Fat

Most “healthy” muffins still have a lot of fat in them.  Granted, there is a tiny bit of fat in eggs and there is some fat in the butterscotch chips, but other than those, there is no further addition of fat in this recipe.  I’ve used applesauce and mashed bananas to replace some of the fat as well as 1/3 of the sugar.  The addition of the butterscotch chips helps take to fake out your taste buds 😉  You could also use chocolate chips.

This recipe makes 15 delicious muffins – great for breakfast or after-school snack.

In a large bowl, whisk together:
1/2 cup Applesauce, unsweetened
1/2 cup Brown Sugar
2 Eggs
3 Ripe Bananas, mashed
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract

Add to the above, stir to incorporate:
1 cup AP Flour
1/2 cup Whole Wheat Flour
1/2 cup Oatmeal, Quick
1 tsp. Baking Soda
1 tsp. Baking Powder
1/2 tsp. Salt
1 cup Butterscotch Chips (or Chocolate Chips)

Scoop into paper lined muffin pan.  Bake in 350 degree oven for 20 minutes.

Biscotti – low in Fat!

When searching for a low-fat cookie, a biscotti, which is a twice-baked cookie, is a natural choice.  Because of their crisp, dry nature – they are meant for dipping in coffee, they have much less fat content than most cookies.  Their crunchiness makes them an equally satisfying snack!

This recipe comes from America’s Test Kitchen – a cookbook I always recommend!  It makes approx. 3 dozen cookies.

In a mixer bowl, using the paddle attachment, cream:
4 Tabl. Butter, room temp.
1 cup Sugar


Add and mix well:
2 Eggs
1/2 tsp. Vanilla Extract
1/2 tsp. Almond Extract

Add to above:
2 cups AP Flour
1 tsp. Baking Powder
1/4 tsp. Salt

Optional Stir-ins: (I used them all – YUM!)
3/4 cup toasted sliced Almonds
1/2 cup dried Cranberries
2 Tabl. Fresh Orange Zest

Place the dough out on the counter and divide in 2.  Shape each into a log approx. 12″ long X 3″ wide.  Bake in 350 degree oven about 35 minutes or until golden brown and beginning to crack a bit on top.

Remove from the oven. Turn the oven down to 325 degrees.  Wait 10 minutes for the cookies to cool.  Transfer the cookies to a cutting board and with a serrated knife cut into 1/2″ pieces. Transfer each slice back onto the cookie sheet.

Bake the cookies for 7 minutes.  Turn all of the cookies over and continue baking another 7 minutes.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.  Store in an air-tight container/bag.

Brownies – Reduced Fat & Sugar

If you still haven’t figured out what to make for your sweetie for Valentine’s, how about a healthier alternative to brownies? In this recipe,  I’ve not replaced all of the fat or sugar, but rather about 1/2 of the fat and sugar and compensated by using applesauce and extra dark chocolate.  The texture of these brownies is “cakey” not dense.

We enjoy these brownies best warm, but they are equally as delicious the next day. Dust with powdered sugar if desired.  I may ice some with leftover fondue (from yesterdays post) to make them extra special for my valentine!

In a small bowl, melt and then set aside:
6 Tabl. Butter
1/3 cup  dark chocolate chips (I use Ghirardelli 60% cacao)

Whisk together in medium size bowl:
1/2 cup Sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened Applesauce (smooth, not chunky)
2 Eggs
1/2 tsp. Vanilla Extract

Sift together:
2/3 cup AP Flour
1/2 tsp. Baking Powder
1/2 tsp. Salt

1)  Add the melted chocolate and butter to the wet ingredients.

2)  Stir the dry ingredients into the bowl of wet ingredients.

3)  Stir 1/2 cup Dark Chocolate Chips into the batter.

Line the 8″X8″ pan with tin foil, leaving foil over the edges.  Bake in a 350 degree oven for 35 minutes.  I recommend serving these the day they are made, or freeze for later.

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