Light and healthy fruit dessert but not "too" easy to make

January 6, 2019

Weird set of specs I know, but we always eat healthy for our Jan. cooking club, and I agreed to bring a dessert. I specified fruit-based (someone else is doing chocolate). I get too many hits for stuff with artificial ingred, or too simple; eg toasted coconut flakes over pineapple.


Comments (53)

  • chickadee2_gw

    I haven’t made any of these recipes yet, but I saved them on Pinterest because they sure look good. I might have to post them seperately here.

    Maybe not light enough because of the crust.

  • mtnrdredux_gw thanked chickadee2_gw
  • hounds_x_two

    How can you go wrong with fresh berries and (real) whipped cream? Serve some cookies for those who might want a little more.

    mtnrdredux_gw thanked hounds_x_two
  • nutsaboutplants

    I do an apple crisp with no crust that‘s delish. Preheat over to 450 degrees. Core and Slice Granny Smith apples into thick wedges. Coat a large shallow baking pan with cooking spray, oil or butter. Spread the apple slices on the baking pan. Bake For about 20 minutes. Remove from oven. Add a table spoon of oil or butter, a table spoon of honey or maple syrup, cinnamon, raisins (or cranberries), walnuts, and a pinch of salt. You can add a dash of red chili or cayenne powder for a slight kick . Mix gently so that the apple slices keep their shape and don’t disintegrate. Place back in the oven. Bake for another 10 minutes and broil on high for 5 minutes.

    mtnrdredux_gw thanked nutsaboutplants
  • wantoretire_did

    Ina Garten’s Very Berry Fruit Salad

    1 pt. Each red raspberries, blueberries, strawberries (or blackberries) your choice

    1/4 cup sugar

    1 Tblsp. Balsamic vinegar

    Mix several hours prior or overnight and refrigerate

    mtnrdredux_gw thanked wantoretire_did
  • morz8

    Some pretty, healthy fruit desserts here -

    I'm not much of a dessert person but some of these might tempt me.

    mtnrdredux_gw thanked morz8
  • robo (z6a)

    What about poached fruit? Can be very light on the added sugar and can take on interest from the spices you use in the poaching liquid.

    mtnrdredux_gw thanked robo (z6a)
  • jojoco

    Pipe individual meringue shells and fill with fresh whipped cream and raspberries (And a little crushed raspberries as sauce on the dish)

  • carolb_w_fl_coastal_9b

    I make something like nutsaboutplants' apple crisp without the crisp, and I call it 'baked fruit compote'. I cut up the fruit - mostly apples - and toss it with some maple syrup, honey, and lemon/lime juice, dot with butter and bake at 400F until soft, adding crushed or chopped walnuts for the last 10 minutes or so.

    And then there's roasted strawberries - sliced strawberries sprinkled with brown sugar and baked @ 400F for about 30 minutes.

    mtnrdredux_gw thanked carolb_w_fl_coastal_9b
  • Bunny

    Fruit crisp is always a hit. You barely need a recipe and you don't have to worry about the bottom crust being soggy. Works great with apples or mixed berries.

    mtnrdredux_gw thanked Bunny
  • lakeaffect

    Pears Helene without the chocolate, so just poached pears, ice cream and a few toasted nuts?

    mtnrdredux_gw thanked lakeaffect
  • gardengal48 (PNW Z8/9)

    "Works great with apples or mixed berries."

    Or peaches (frozen or fresh), rhubarb, pears, you name it!! Fruit crisp is my go-to dessert for just about any occasion. Easy to make, not overly sweet, rich or filling and because it is mostly fruit, it is pretty easy to justfy for those watching their diet :-))

    It's the whipped cream or ice ceam served with that adds all the calories!!

    mtnrdredux_gw thanked gardengal48 (PNW Z8/9)
  • hounds_x_two

    Definitely difficult to find the “just right” dessert these days! So many people are gluten free, low carb, low fat, low/no this, that and the other!

  • nickel_kg

    Plain fruit would be healthier, but the French Apple Lady's Apple Cake is delicious: apple-lady-apple-cake recipe

    mtnrdredux_gw thanked nickel_kg
  • Funkyart

    I don't know.. I don't think i'd do a crisp for cooking club. I mean, you want to show off your mad skillz, no?

    My first thought was something with poached pears also-- you can poach in red wine, cider or a honey-ginger-cinnamon mixture. Up the game with the presentation... crème fraiche and toasted almonds, pecans or pistachios? If "healthy" isn't too extreme, you could add a phyllo cup --- or my favorite, puff pastry.

    (I do a version of this second photo alla the time! I never tried the top version-- but I think it's just lovely!)

    Sorbet is nice-- not all that difficult but you could pair it with a small tuille or such. NYT has a pear/red wine sorbet.. and of course, blood oranges are great this time of year!

    Are you cooking there or bringing? I thought this apple and pear soufflé recipe looked good and healthy

    mtnrdredux_gw thanked Funkyart
  • d_gw

    I had the most delicious edible honeycomb on a charcuterie board. If you find a recipe with honey, a chunk of honeycomb on top would make for a pretty dish.

    mtnrdredux_gw thanked d_gw
  • deeinohio

    Is mixed berries with sabayon sauce too “unhealthy”? It’s our favorite Easter dessert.

    mtnrdredux_gw thanked deeinohio
  • georgysmom2

    I've made Paula Dean's Banana pudding with the mini Chessman cookies. It's good and very pretty. Love, love, love apple crisp and can be made with gluten-free Bisquick for the topping if there are any gluten-free people and it tastes pretty much the same as regular apple crisp. Meringue shells filled with fruit macerated with Grand Marnier or Strawberries Romanoff....Just macerate the strawberries with Grand Marnier and some orange rind , put it some sherbet glasses and top with some fresh sweetened whipped cream.

    mtnrdredux_gw thanked georgysmom2
  • Moxie

    Maybe clafoutis made with pears instead of cherries?

    mtnrdredux_gw thanked Moxie
  • mtnrdredux_gw

    I should have mentioned, I have made Pavlovas with Mango and passionfruit. and Eton Mess (w strawberries) and even Ile Flottante (with cherries, rose water and pistachios) in the past for the same group (going on 10 years in this group!). So anything like that (ie egg-white based) is a no-go.

    And it cannot be "too easy", because it is a cooking club and we/I like to cook. Not just assembly if you will.

    Funky, Yes, "healthy" is the theme. But none of us have any health restrictions. And the audience is fellow foodies. So what I am trying to find is the healthiest possible fruit dessert that is a bit unusual and requires some skill or at least inventiveness or interesting/unusual/hard to find ingredient. But also tastes good.

    Alas I am not hosting so need to transport, but this host is very close by , 5 min by car.

    I really like the idea of something with a honeycomb, how cool.

    Also like the idea of apples and chili powder!

  • localeater

    I once made strawberry soufflé. It was very good. Or what about buttermilk pannacotta with a raspberry gelee?

  • mtnrdredux_gw

    Local, I made panna cotta for a dinner party last fall. Yum, but too rich for the mandate I think.

    I am really leaning toward using honeycomb. Maybe because I am still remembering this fab dessert from our vacation. I am not a huge fan of honey (there are a few kinds I like most I do not and when used in recipes I find honey often overwhelms).

    But, in NM, we had this fabulous dessert. It was called LOS POBLANOS HONEY CAKE with elderberry syrup, honey brittle

    Obv cannot do this for a light dessert but I do have honey on the brain now/

  • maifleur01

    Since it is January something warm is probably best. Also something to compliment the other dessert. How about a warm fruit compote using a mixture of white wine and lemon reduction decorated with the fru fru of candied lemon and or orange curls. Depending on the fruit used slices/slivers of fresh or candied ginger could be added at the last minute before taking to the dinner. Not giving amounts because I do not know how many people attend and this can be stretched or reduced along with changing fruit types and shapes.

  • Feathers11

    I have an abundance of lemons that I bought before bowing out of a party last weekend. I came across this recipe and will be trying it this week.

  • morz8

    Oh, Feathers. Now that is my kind of dessert. Heavy cream, just slightly sweet. And the lemon makes three plus points ;0)

  • d_gw

    mtn, there is a Savannah Bee Company store in Wesport, I'm sure they do honey tastings. I purchased the raw acacia honeycomb in their Savannah store. I gave it to my SIL as a little hostess gift and she used it on her charcuterie board. I don't have a big sweet tooth but it was so yummy.

  • jojoco

    These puff pastry gems might do the trick. Google “Apple roses” for recipes .

    mtnrdredux_gw thanked jojoco
  • rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

    I was going to suggest a lemon tart with a shortbread crust, but that custard looks divine.

  • mtnrdredux_gw

    omg Rhizo that sounds good, if not at all light or healthy! I love lemon anything, but it always requires a big dose of sugar

    jojoco, gorgeous ... found a helpful video, too. (not sure why the guy is topless)

    i am pretty sure I am set on using pieces of honeycomb in my dessert, for the wow factor ,,,maybe i can serve w the rose

  • Olychick

    Well this might not allow the best showcase for honeycomb, but I immediately thought of this, which is divine and yet not too heavy/rich. It's surprising, because you make it with whole clementines, which are seedless, whirled up in the food processor. I've only made it with Clementines, but she says you can also make it with 1/2 lemons, too. Glaze with a lemon glaze. She doesn't mention an orange glaze on the orange version; it really doesn't need it. You could garnish with fresh blueberries or strawberries.

    Nigella's Clementine Cake

    This is a wonderfully damp, dense and aromatic flourless cake: it tastes
    like one of those sponges you drench, while cooling, with syrup, only
    you don't have to. And it's such an accommodating kind of cake, too: it keeps well, indeed it gets better after a few days; and it is perfect either as a pudding
    with creme fraiche, or as a sustaining slice with a mug of tea at any
    time of the day.


    Serves: 8-10

    • approx. 13 ounces clementines (approx. 4)
    • 6 large eggs
    • 1¼ cups granulated sugar
    • 2¼ cups almond meal
    • 1 teaspoon baking powder (see NOTE below)


    1. Put the clementines in a pan with some cold water, bring to the
      boil, partially with the lid and cook for 2 hours. Drain, discarding the
      cooking water, and, when cool, cut each clementine in half and remove
      the pips. Dump the clementines - skins, pith, fruit and all - and give a
      quick blitz in a food processor (or by hand, of course). Preheat the
      oven to gas mark 5/190ºC/170°C Fan/375ºF. Butter and line a 20cm / 8
      inch Springform tin.
    2. You can then add all the other ingredients to the food processor and
      mix. Or, you can beat the eggs by hand adding the sugar, almonds and
      baking powder, mixing well, then finally adding the pulped oranges.
    3. Pour the cake mixture into the prepared tin and bake for an hour,
      when a skewer will come out clean; you'll probably have to cover with
      foil or greaseproof after about 40 minutes to stop the top burning.
      Remove from the oven and leave to cool, on a rack, but in the tin. When
      the cake's cold, you can take it out of the tin. I think this is better a
      day after it's made, but I don't complain about eating it at any time.
    4. I've also made this with an equal weight of oranges, and with
      lemons, in which case I increase the sugar to 250g / 2¼ cups and
      slightly anglicise it, too, by adding a glaze made of icing sugar mixed
      to a paste with lemon juice and a little water.

  • ratherbesewing

    Has anyone tasted the Nigella clementine cake? The instructions fascinate me. Sorry to derail this thread.

  • rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

    Winter fruit compote....different.

    I found a delicious sounding compote using winter fruit. I'd have to add sliced kumquat and pomegranate as garnish. Served in old-fashioned glasses (the squat, wide glasses) with a couple of rolled ginger cookies on the side.

    Do you have an embossed rolling pin? It can totally elevate a simple cookie to a new level. You can brush on a thin glaze, dust with a bit of powdered sugar, or use a brush to apply some gold luster dust.

    Embossed rolling pins.

    Note: I haven't made this compote but it really appeals to me.

  • sas95

    This winter fruit salad is excellent-- healthy, light and pretty with the pomegranate seeds. I always like having a dessert option that is not a cake, cookie, ice cream, etc.

  • fouramblues

    ratherbesewing, I made Nigella’s clementine cake, mostly because the method intrigued me. It was delicious!

  • maifleur01

    While the apple roses are interesting you need to try several different apples to find some that will soften in the cooking time without remaining raw. The remaining raw is a problem with ones I have had along with I think they need a sauce to pour over them as they can be very dry. Although I have not tried it I have wondered if putting the pan on a hot baking stone then baking would help the raw portion could better.

  • Annie Deighnaugh

    I love fruit marinated in grand marnier...I've used it over pound cake cubes or angel food cake or short cake; with yogurt or ice cream like a parfait; over sorbet; or just the fruit with unsweetened whipped heavy cream, or use good ice cream melted instead of cream or some prefer creme fraiche.

    I'd worry less about how complicated the prep is and focus on the outcome as that's what everyone will enjoy. Of course, I'm a simple, easy cook anyway so it fits my style. ;)

  • jojoco

    Perhaps with the apples instead of dusting with cinnamon sugar, you could brush it all with an apricot glaze? That might help the dryness.

  • Olychick

    rbs, I've made the Clementine Cake many's really delicious - always a hit and it's gluten free, too!

  • mtnrdredux_gw

    I'd worry less about how complicated the prep is and focus on the outcome as that's what everyone will enjoy.

    Ordinarily, yes, but that is not really what a cooking club (or at least ours) is about. It is about finding a recipe that 1)fits the mandate and 2)is befitting people who consider themselves foodies and cooks and 3) does, yes, in fact taste good. The fun is trying something new and interesting, whether techniques, combinations, or ingredients.

    For anyone else looking at such ideas, i liked this link:

    The fruit bark is intriguing and so is the sorbet, but brrrr....

    I still want to do something with a honeycomb, but IDK what.

    The apples roses are more butter sugar and puff pastry than apple, so I think it misses the healthy mandate. The crustless apple crisp is a lot healthier, and is a contender. Could make it ramekins with a little square of honeycomb

  • localeater

    Mtn, what about a crepe cake? Link The cranberry hazelnut would be winter as would some of the other flavors. You could lighten up any of the creams by using a percentage of Greek yogurt.

    mtnrdredux_gw thanked localeater
  • tishtoshnm Zone 6/NM

    I always find the term healthy too ambiguous to be useful as healthy is really in the eyes of the beholder. For a cooking club, the above mentioned clementine cake's technique makes it interesting. It is also on the lighter side. Clafouti was mentioned above and it is a favorite of mine. For a cooking club, I would explore infusing the milk with something for that extra touch. I have seen a recipe for cherry clafouti that uses coconut milk that is infused with lime. For a pear clafouti, ginger or cardamon could be good candidates.

    If you were to do a fruit compote, I think that an almond paste cookie would be a good accompaniment. This recipe for almond cloud cookies from King Arthur Flour have an interesting texture that would compliment a compote well. If you wanted to push the healthy concept even further, in addition to traditional whipped cream, you could try one of the nut based toppings. I have made some with macadamia nuts that are quite delicious. Or perhaps a maple pouring cream to go over baked apples?

    mtnrdredux_gw thanked tishtoshnm Zone 6/NM
  • sheesh

    How about homemade Greek yogurt with a warm or cold fruit compote, garnished with a piece of honeycomb?

    Yogurt is practically effortless, definitely delicious, but takes 24 hours. I make a gallon every week and serve it with honey or cinnamon or fruit compote. The honeycomb (or a shortbread cookie) might be just the thing to make it festive.

    I also have served the yogurt as dessert with chocolate sauce or grenadine or limoncello poured into the bottom of the dish with a drizzle on top. And I use it as a sub for sour creme.

    mtnrdredux_gw thanked sheesh
  • adellabedella_usa

    It was in the 70's here yesterday and beautiful. All of these dishes sound too heavy for me. Lol! What about some sort of layered dessert like a parfait? You could have fruit layers, some sort of crumb layer like cake or cookie, and something creamy like a pudding or whipped topping layer? That may not be complicated enough, but sure would look pretty and taste good.

  • Ava

    It will be interesting to see what you decide. My criteria is always light and healthy and most of all - easy.

  • Suzieque

    I know exactly what you mean about "not too simple". We're not members of a dinner group but I'd love to be. We do like to entertain and love to put a bit if effort into it; that's fun for us. So I'm loving some of these ideas and adding them to my list of things to try!

  • mtnrdredux_gw

    Yes, "healthy" is indeed ambiguous! it's like trying to find a "good" energy bar ... well do you care about protein, or carbs, or calories or fiber or banning sugar at all costs? Do you want organic or at least "natural"? etc etc

    We put our Cooking Club schedule together every August. January is always "lighter." Originally it was supposed to be "Whole 30" night but when we looked into that, it was too limiting. So we decided on "healthy" , which we defined to mean as low in calories as possible, without using artificial ingredients.

    Funnily enough, I am going to be at a cooking class at Bouley in NYC on Thursday during the day, then have the club dinner at night. So now I realize i need to make this in advance.

    I have decided on the item below. I can make it all in advance (I will also make the labneh), it is unusual and very pretty, and not only lower in calories but also offers the health-promoting benefits of pomegranate, yogurt, nuts and honey. On top of it all, I am picking up some honeycomb (rather than just honey) to put on top. Only negative is that it is cold, but, well, we aren't eating outside. : )

    Lastly it will be a big turnout which means we will have a lot of food; I will want to nicely present small servings. I have a whole bunch of small glass votive holders and I will use those.

    Pomegranate Sorbet Parfait

    All that said, I have at least 3 recipes I now want to try for some other time --- The Clementine cake, so intriguing, the roses, so pretty, and the really healthy apple crisp with a bit of heat.

    Thank you all!

    PS Heading to Savannah Bee tomorrrow, thx for the idea. My local grocer has it but it was submerged in honey. I want the crispy/chewy factor.

  • nosoccermom

    One of my favorite desserts is Greek yogurt fruit mousse (lemon, raspberry, mixed berries....)

  • l pinkmountain

    Wish I lived closer, you could borrow my parfait cups and do fruit and yogurt parfaits topped with honeycomb. Or fruit and pudding parfaits, which if home made, is not the worst you can do in the health department if you make it with lower fat milk. It is sugary though, but can be made less sweet than usual.

  • westsider40

    The clementine cake is like one of the two ‘orange kiss me cakes, but with clementines,not oranges., also delicious and deeply flavorful.

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