You don't have to be a chocoholic to enjoy a tender slice of chocolate cake or a chewy chocolate cookie. Unfortunately, a good portion of the calories and fat in such mouth-watering desserts comes from the chocolate. That doesn't mean chocolate is off-limits if you're trying to eat light.
You can reduce the fat and calories by substituting baking cocoa for some or all of the chocolate called for in a recipe, as in Light Chocolate Cheesecake (shown at right).
Baking cocoa is the powdery residue produced when cocoa beans are processed. Most of the cocoa butter—the main fat in chocolate—is removed from the powder, making it an ideal ingredient for baking light.
You can use baking cocoa to lighten up cakes, cookies, quick breads, frosting and sauces. Here's how:
- Replace 1 square of melted unsweetened chocolate (1 ounce) with 3 tablespoons of cocoa plus 1 tablespoon of water, milk, buttermilk or applesauce. You'll reduce the calories by 80 and total fat by 13 grams (of which 8 grams are saturated fat).
- To replace 1/2 cup of semisweet chocolate (3 ounces), use 3 tablespoons cocoa powder, 2 tablespoons liquid and 3 tablespoons sugar. You'll save 200 calories and 23 grams total fat (15 grams saturated fat).
Make sure you add the cocoa powder to the dry ingredients and the additional liquid to the wet ingredients. Stir the dry ingredients well, since baking cocoa has a tendency to clump. Because baking cocoa is acidic, you might need to mix in more baking soda (1/8 teaspoon for every 3 tablespoons cocoa).
Chocolate Mint Whoopie Pies are cute sandwich cookies that our Test Kitchen made lighter in calories but not flavor. They would be a pretty addition to any holiday goodie tray. Another recipe, Cocoa Banana Cupcakes, comes from Rochelle Brownlee of Big Timber, Montana. These moist cupcakes with mild banana flavor get a boost from the cocoa powder in the frosting, which also has melted chocolate to give it a creamy texture that's easier to spread.