Lower Cal Versions of High Fat Desserts...

Joined Nov 29, 2001
Being on this better health mission, I know I have to forego things I'd usually dive into with Olympic quality gusto. However, I really don't want to give back any weight loss I've achieved for the 5 minute pleasure of consuming something I'll regret consuming. A minute on the lips, a lifetime on the hips is not far off.

I love phyllo dough and decided to make a lower-fat, lower-calorie version of an apple pastry. After reading the advice of Rose Levy Berenbaum regarding moistening phyllo dough, I surmised that I didn't have to soak the phyllo with the fat to have the crisping effect.

This worked beautifully and tasted great. If you don't tell someone there's been a conscious effort to cut the fact, they probably wouldn't know. There are a total of 6 tbsp. fat in a recipe that serves 3 but it's a combination of butter and a healthier oil. The butter gives the fat mixture flavor and the corn oil contributes polyunsaturated fat instead of cholesterol.

Phyllo Apple Pastry
(Makes 3)

3 tbsp. corn oil
3 tbsp. butter, melted

3 peeled cored chunked apples of your choice
1 tbsp. brown sugar
1/4 t. cinnamon
few scrapes fresh nutmeg

9 sheets phyllo dough

3 tbsp. cinnamon sugar

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

I nuked 3 tbsp. butter till melted, then mixed in 3 tbsp. corn oil and stirred.

Pour about 1 tbsp. of the butter/oil mixture into a saute pan and heat over med heat. Add the apples and cook about 3 minutes. Add the brown sugar and spices, toss to coat and heat through, then turn off heat and remove pan from burner.

The oil/butter mix has to be used sparingly to last through to the end of the recipe. (Amounts are difficult to describe because a pastry brush is used to spread the oil/butter mix.)

Lay out 1 sheet phyllo dough horizontally with the widest part facing you. Either work fast or make sure you cover the other sheets because they dry quickly. Brush the perimeter of the sheet of phyllo, dip again, and lightly pass the brush over the sheet. Your coverage with the fat can be spotty. A total of 1 tsp. cinnamon/sugar should be used on each pastry. Be sure to divide that teaspoon into 3 for the 3 phyllo layers. Sprinkle a bit of cinnamon sugar over the phyllo. Place a 2nd sheet of phyllo dough on top of the cinn/sugar coated sheet. Repeat the procedure and finish with a 3rd sheet of phyllo.

Take 1/3 of the apple mixture from the pan and place it in a vertical log shape about 4" long at the far left side of the phyllo. Fold the phyllo over to enclose the apple mixture. Fold the bottom end up and the top end down (the ends should just about meet). Then, brush the phyllo very lightly with the butter/oil mixture and continue rolling up the apple mixture until the roll is completed. It should look like a flat "egg roll." Continue with the other phyllo sheets and apple mixture. Brush the tops of the rolls very lightly with the oil/butter mix.

Place rolls on a jellyroll pan covered in parchment. (Parchment makes cleanup extremely easy.) Poke 2 holes in each roll for steam to escape. Bake 35 minutes. The phyllo should be golden. If there are patches of darkness, this is caused by the cinnamon sugar and will not affect flavor.

Serves 3.
Joined Apr 19, 2001
have you ever browsed through 'Cooking Light' magazine? They've got some great low fat desserts, as well as mains. I like the mag, because it's got a little of everything - exercise and fitness, 'food alerts', gear, as well as well thought out low fat eating and recipes.
Joined Nov 29, 2001
I used to subscribe to CL and recently reinstated my subscription. I haven't gotten a mag yet and subscribed back in December. I contact customer service and am awaiting a reply. I love the fact that the recipes in Cooking Light actually look great and that's a big enticement to make something that might be lower-fat.
Joined Oct 6, 2001
Cookinglight.com is also there with a weekly newsletter and inspiring recipes.

Chiffonade, in regards to phyllo baked goods -- try using butter flavoured Pam. It also does a good job of creating a flaky, lower calorie pastry.

If you are using olive oil, use the oil mister -- good coverage but not a huge quantity of oil. If you are really careful, a slight spritzing of water can also be used in combo w/shortening. It is the water turning into steam and rising that creates the flakiness in phyllo based "crusts".

When you have to have sweet and crunchy and creamy -- wonton wrappers spritzed with Pam and a little cinnamon sugar with non-fat or low fat french vanilla yogurt and fresh fruit layered as a napoleon fulfills all the senses -- the headiness of a good cinnamon, the crunch of a crisp wonton, the creamy yogurt, the colourful layers.

Happy cooking!
Joined Feb 6, 2002

do you have to bake those wontons first? and how do you do it? Do you use the same technique for making a napoleon with phyllo?

Joined Nov 29, 2001
I had forgotten all about the baked wontons! When you get all wrapped up in gourmet food, selling food to the public whose palate is corrupt with salty, fatty, fast food, all the knowledge you had about healthier eating seems to drift away.

The apple dessert is by no means low calorie, it was meant to be lower calorie than a full fat, butter soaked version of the same thing.

I had a mister but don't know what the heck happened to it! :( I'm going to get another mister and use even less fat. I like misting for "oven frying." Rosie Daley (Oprah's spa chef) used to oven fry everything. I recently saw oven frying on Cooking Thin, a show on the Television Food Network. The chef uses all kinds of tricks and "baby steps" to get back to healthier eating.

The tools are worth knowing but it's a firm commitment on the part of the individual to concentrate on these changes and not to lapse into old habits. Not easy because habits are choices that became involuntary somewhere along the way. Changing bad, comfortable habits can be as easy as changing the course of a mighty river. But if we want to stick around a while, it's worth the work.
Joined Oct 6, 2001

Pam, sprinkle and bake. 350 for 5-7 min usually.

Layer away 'til your heart's content!

Joined Oct 13, 2001
Hey folks , there is a software program called Master Cook with the Cooking Light cookbooks and so much more . I use this program at least once a week . Good tested recipes......
Joined Mar 7, 2002
My pets,

Dear Abby believes you only live once. Splendid desserts are eaten only on rare occasions and should be savored then. Every morsel should be lingered over as a kiss from a young lover.

Why would one wish to diminish this experience?



Staff member
Joined Oct 7, 2001
I have also seen some recipes that use orange juice to brush between layers of phyllo. I'm sure you have to use this very sparingly or you will come out is a soggy mess.

Abby you answered your own question when you said, "Splendid desserts are eaten only on rare occasions". True, there is nothing wrong with a wonderful, decadent desserts every once in awhile, but people like to enjoy desserts and sweets more than "on rare occasions". It is then that one should look at healthier alternatives. Healthy doesn't have to mean lacking in flavor. Low-fat desserts can be absolutely wonderful, for example: sorbet, fresh fruit macerated in Grand Marnier and served in a phyllo cup, homemade jellos with exotic flavors such as rose, hibiscus, or port, 5-spice Blackberry Soup with a Double Vanilla frozen yogurt. The list can go on and on. Sure these desserts may not be "low-calorie" but they sure are much healthier than your run-of-the-mill desserts. All it takes is a little imagination, creativity, and ingenuity.
Joined Apr 19, 2001
Dear Abbey - Kisses from old lovers are pretty neat, too!!

Pete - I don't know about the OJ thing, but I've used olive oil in a spray mister for phyllo, and it works fine. Used a 'light' olive oil, so not much of the flavor came through. I've even seen folks use the low-fat Pam!
Joined Jun 1, 2001
I recommend Alice Medrich's Chocolate and the Art of Low Fat Desserts. The now-defunct Eating Well also published the Eating Well Dessert Cookbook; it's out of print, but easy to find used. Susan Purdy's two lower-fat dessert books are also good starting points.

All three of these focus on REDUCING fat, rather than eliminating it entirely -- so the calorie and fat savings are not so dramatic as some other books, but the desserts also make a better transitioning point for one who is used to the real thing. As one gets more practiced in healthier sweet-making, it's easy enough to make added reductions and substitions (blithely ignoring the loud warnings on the recipes that say, "Do NOT reduce anything more in this recipe, because I say so!!!").

Abby, the more one eats lighter food as a lifetime practice rather than a temporary sentence, the more traditional food starts to seem like a penance. I find that, great though the first bite sometimes tastes, I usually feel like I'm gonna barf if I eat more than three bites of some massive, cream-butter-chocolate-laden death on a plate, no matter how tempting it looked in the glass case. I find myself longing to get home and have some of MY treats, which are tastier and don't leave me with headaches and lingering indigestion.
Joined Apr 30, 2001
As a diabetic, I'm certainly in favor of healthier desserts! Chiffonade - do you have a nutritional breakdown of your dessert? If so, I'd love to see it, thanks.

Here's an apple tart you might enjoy.

APPLE TARTS [from the Joslin Diabetes Cookbook]

1 sheet frozen puff pastry dough
1 6-ounce tart apple (Gala or Granny Smith)
1 tsp grated lemon zest
1/2 tsp fresh lemon juice
butter flavored cooking spray (or go light on the real butter )
2 Tbsp unsweetened applesauce
1 tsp sugar
1/8 tsp nutmeg

Preheat oven to 450 F.

Cut the pastry dough into thirds, wrap and freeze 2 thirds. Cut the remaining third into 2 pieces.

Pare, quarter, and thinly slice apple, sprinkle with lemon zest and lemon juice.

Lightly roll the dough pieces to form two 4 1/2 inch squares. Place the dough pieces on a nonstick cookie sheet that has been coated with cooking spray. Lightly spray the dough with cooking spray. Top each piece with the applesauce, sugar, nutmeg, and apple slices, leaving a half inch border. Coat once again with cooking spray.

Bake for 10 minutes, check and lower the heat to 425 F. Bake for 5 more minutes or until the crust is golden brown and some of the apple edges have browned. Serve warm.

2 servings, 178 calories (1 carb, 1 fat)
Joined May 11, 2001
I second CompassRose's cookbook suggestions. I have the Medrich and Eating Well books and they're both excellent. I've had consistently great results and you never feel like you're sacrificing anything. The only bad thing for me was that the Double Chocolate Layer Cake was so good that I ate 3/4 of the cake myself at one sitting. If anyone is interested in the Medrich book, the whole first chapter can be found on amazon.com.
Top Bottom