Have your cake and eat it: low-fat, low-cal desserts

For all of you whose New Year’s resolutions include living a healthier lifestyle by losing weight, help is on the way. There are so many options for diets that hold the promise of a better body: low fat, no fat, low carb, no carb, high protein and Weight Watchers, to name just a few. They all worked for me for a time and then that creeping feeling of deprivation invaded and sabotaged my best intentions.

Dessert, that’s what I was missing. And I don’t mean a piece of unembellished fruit. I longed for a small slice of strudel, a piece of golden sponge cake or a wee wedge of New York cheesecake, especially after a Shabbat or holiday meal.

By using reduced-fat dairy products and low-cal sugar substitutes, you can actually have your cake and eat it, too, or maybe have your cake and eat nothing else. Portion control is key. Here are some of my favorites that make any diet sustainable.

Cheesecake | Makes 16 diet-size wedges


1 Tbs. butter or margarine, room temperature
1 1/4 cups low-fat graham cracker crumbs, divided


8 oz. reduced-fat cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup Splenda sugar blend for baking
3/4 cup part-skim milk ricotta
3 eggs
1 cup light sour cream
1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
1 Tbs. fresh lemon zest


1 cup light sour cream
1/4 cup Splenda sugar blend for baking
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 325°F.

For crust, grease the inside of a 9-inch springform pan, using soft butter. Press 1 cup of graham cracker crumbs into the bottom of the pan. Set aside.

For filling, place cream cheese and Splenda sugar blend for baking into a mixer (preferably with a paddle attachment). Run for a few minutes, scraping down the sides and beaters frequently.

Add ricotta, then add eggs, one by one. Wait for egg to be incorporated into the mix and scrape down the bowl before adding another egg to insure that everything is smoothly blended. Finally add sour cream, lemon juice and zest, and mix to uniform consistency.

Pour batter into the prepared pan and place on a cookie sheet. Bake at 325 degrees for 50-55 minutes, or until almost fully set and the center jiggles slightly. Allow to cool completely.

Mix the topping ingredients in a bowl and use an offset (bent metal) spatula to cover the outside of the unmolded cheesecake.

Cover the top of the cake with a 1/8-inch layer of the sour cream topping and lightly coat the sides. Use the spatula to stick the remaining 1/4 cup cracker crumbs onto the sides.

Shabbat Sponge Cake | Serves 12

4 eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup Splenda sugar blend for baking
1/4 cup frozen orange juice concentrate
1 1/2 cup flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking powder
4 egg whites, room temperature

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl beat eggs until blended. Gradually beat in the 1/2 cup Splenda sugar blend. Increase the speed to high and beat until thick and pale in color. Beat in orange juice.

In a medium bowl combine flour, salt and baking powder. Add in three additions to eggs mixture. In a clean large bowl, beat egg whites until foamy. Gradually add remaining sugar and beat until stiff. Fold whites into batter in three additions. Pour batter into ungreased tube pan. Bake 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Remove from oven and invert. Let cool upside down. When cool re-invert and cut around the sides and around the inner tube of the cake. Turn upside down and gently tap cake out of pan.

Serve plain or with berries.

Louise Fiszer is a Palo Alto cooking teacher, author and the co-author of “Jewish Holiday Cooking.” Her columns alternate with those of Rebecca Ets-Hokin. Questions and recipe ideas can be sent to j. or to [email protected].