I love sweets so I feel sad when people tell me they dodge desserts when they’re being “good”. Desserts aren’t all bad. You can enjoy sinful-tasting treats that are light and healthy too. Here are some of my favorite desserts, hot off the pages of my new cookbook, Robin Takes 5. The mini meringue cookies are made mostly of egg whites, so they’re super light and wonderful (and only 37 calories each). The mousse couldn’t be simpler; it’s got 5 ingredients and has only 156 calories per serving. The tart can be made countless ways just by switching the preserves – I used orange marmalade, but you could use apricot preserves, seedless raspberry, strawberry or blackberry preserves, or any other jam, jelly or preserve you like. All three treats are perfect for holiday parties and gift giving too.
These are just three of the sixty desserts (yes, 60!) in Robin Takes 5, which is available in Food Network’s online store and in bookstores.
Mini Chocolate Chip Meringue Cookies
For the best outcome, make sure all ingredients are room temperature. The egg whites will get bigger and fluffier and the result is a puffed up, amazing little cookie.
Makes 36 cookies
4 large egg whites
Pinch of salt
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 250ºF. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Beat together egg whites, salt and cream of tartar until mixture is foamy. Increase mixer speed to high and beat until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in sugar and beat until blended. Add vanilla and beat until stiff peaks form and egg whites are glossy. Fold in chocolate chips. Drop batter by tablespoons onto prepared pans, about 1 1/2 inches apart. Bake 35 minutes, rotating pans and switching which rack they’re on halfway through cooking. Turn oven off and let cookies rest in oven for 30 minutes. Remove cookies from oven and cool completely at room temperature.
Nutrients per cookie: Calories: 37, Fat: 1g, Saturated Fat: 0g, Cholesterol: 0mg, Carbohydrate: 7g, Protein: 0g, Fiber: 0g, Sodium: 15mg
When making mousse from scratch, there are two important tips for a successful outcome:
Make sure to thoroughly clean the mixing bowl and beaters before beating the egg whites.
Room temperature egg whites beat better than cold ones.
8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips or chunks
8 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar, divided
Preheat oven to 350ºF. Coat an 8 1/2-inch springform pan with cooking spray and line the bottom with parchment or wax paper. Set aside.
Melt chocolate in the microwave, double boiler or bowl over a saucepan of simmering water.
Meanwhile, separate the yolks from the whites and transfer yolks to a mixing bowl. Beat yolks until thick and pale. Gradually beat in chocolate until blended. Fold in vanilla.
Beat whites with 1/4 cup of the sugar until soft peaks form. Fold one quarter of the whites into the chocolate mixture and then fold in remaining whites. Pour mixture into prepared pan and bake 20-25 minutes, until almost set but still slightly jiggly in the center. Cool mousse in pan before cooling completely (still in pan) in the refrigerator. Dust with remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar before serving.
Nutrients per serving: Calories: 156, Fat: 9g, Saturated Fat: 4g, Cholesterol: 142mg, Carbohydrate: 16g, Protein: 5g, Fiber: 1g, Sodium: 44mg
Orange Marmalade Tart with Chocolate Covered Almonds
9-inch refrigerated pie crust
8 ounces light cream cheese, softened at room temperature
1 cup orange marmalade
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup chocolate covered almonds, coarsely chopped (into 1/2-inch pieces)
Preheat oven to 450ºF.
Press the crust into the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch removable bottom tart pan. Prick the bottom all over with a fork. Bake 10-12 minutes, until golden brown. Allow cooked crust to cool slightly.
Meanwhile, whisk together cream cheese, orange marmalade and vanilla until blended. Spread mixture all over the bottom of the tart and smooth the surface. Top with chocolate covered almonds. Refrigerate until ready to serve (up to 24 hours).
Nutrients per serving: Calories: 443, Fat: 26g, Saturated Fat: 6g, Cholesterol: 13mg, Carbohydrate: 50g, Protein: 10g, Fiber: 3g, Sodium: 41mg