100 Lightened Chocolate Desserts
Chocolate doesn't have to be deadly to your diet. Try one of these lightened—but still decadent!—chocolate desserts.
These chocolate desserts are ideal for a celebration and can mostly be made up to two days ahead. Between their decidedly rich flavor and sumptuous textures that combine a crusty top with a molten interior, these cakes earned our Test Kitchens' highest rating.
These cupcakes are easy to make, and because simple ingredients are used, it's best to purchase premium cocoa powder and dark chocolate. Since they're studded with dark chocolate chunks, just dusting them with powdered sugar is enough to decorate these treats.
Coarsely chopped almonds, two kinds of chocolate, and golden cane syrup help give Upside-Down Fudge-Almond Tart its rich flavor and our highest rating. "Easy and beautiful, this tart will satisfy every chocoholic's need for a chocolate fix," comments Test Kitchen Professional Deb Wise.
Store these Test Kitchen favorite cookies up to one week in an airtight container--if they last that long. We suggest keeping a dozen in the freezer for emergencies.
No mixer? No problem. You won't need one for this surprisingly easy, aptly named dessert. Antioxidant-rich chocolate makes three appearances here―as cocoa powder, unsweetened chocolate, and semisweet morsels. If you don't have ramekins, use muffin pans. The best part about this dessert: utter indulgence for a perfectly reasonable 315 calories. (Before we lightened it, this recipe contained 546.)
These "disappearing cookies" are so rich, soft, and chewy that they tend to vanish quickly. “They’re the perfect cross between cookie and brownie,” one reader says. “Moist and dense on the inside, like a brownie, but crusty on the outside, like a cookie, you'd never know they're light.” At only 78 calories each, feel free to make a few batches. Then watch them disappear!
With a double shot of chocolate and hazelnut flavors, kids and adults will rave over these filled cookies. The espresso powder is optional, but it intensifies the chocolate flavor.
This recipe earned our Test Kitchens' highest rating. A combination of cocoa powder and dark chocolate offers acidity and flowery notes. Store tightly covered in the refrigerator up to five days. For a pretty presentation, dip mint sprigs in water and gently dredge in sugar; let dry on a wire rack.
This rich dessert uses less fat than traditional brownies by substituting water and cherry preserves in place of some of the oil. The combination of unsweetened cocoa and semisweet chips makes for a rich, dark flavor.
These no-bake cookies taste like bite-sized candy bars and are terrific with a cup of coffee. Prepare them up to two days in advance, and store in the refrigerator in an airtight container.
If you need a reason to feel better about indulging your chocolate craving, remember this: Short-term studies have suggested that consumption of cocoa may provide cardiovascular benefits due to compounds known as flavanols. Generally, the higher the concentration of cocoa, the more flavanols are in the product, so splurge on the best. Rich Chocolate Shortbread is easy to prepare and keeps for several days in an airtight container.
This is a pie that's dressed up for the prom. Inside, it's an old-fashioned, dense, sweet chocolate pie, but it's encased in a refined walnut crust and topped with elegant toasted meringue.
Ooey-gooey and rich with chocolate and coffee flavors, these brownies have a dense and fudgy texture that's just right. A topping of toffee chips that melts into the brownies during baking sets them apart in a delicious way.
A riff on the classic pecan pie, this dessert is rich, chocolaty, and a little fancier with its freestanding fluted sides. Of course, you can use a 9-inch pie plate if you don't have a tart pan with a removable bottom.
The original cake has many layers; our streamlined version is easy to assemble and doesn't sacrifice any flavor or presentation panache. The heavy cherry filling may cause the cake to sink slightly in the center once assembled, but it won't detract from the stunning presentation.
Try not to chop the chocolate too finely so you'll have good-sized chunks to bite into. This pudding uses Hawaiian bread, which is a soft, sweet bread found in the bakery section of most grocery stores.
Pots de crème are decadent, creamy custards served in tiny cups—and they’re a perfect ending to a cozy dinner. Make this dessert the night before, and chill until you’re ready to serve.
Instant coffee intensifies the chocolate richness of these cupcakes. For thicker frosting, cover and chill for 10 minutes before spreading on the cupcakes. Refrigerate frosted cupcakes overnight; cover lightly with plastic wrap, or store them in an airtight container.
Similar to a flourless chocolate cake, this sinfully delicious mousse has a superthin cake-like outer layer and a dense, fudgy center—it’s as rich and satisfying as any chocolate dessert you’ll find.
Dark chocolate and orange are a classic combination in this decadent dessert. With Triple Sec (orange-flavored liqueur), orange juice, and orange rind strips on top, this cake is zinging with citrus.
This is pure chocolate indulgence, with a whiff of hazelnut. Fondue is more versatile than you may think. Drizzle this warm sauce over cake, ice cream, or yogurt.
You’ll love these if you’re a big fan of the thin chocolate mint Girl Scout cookies. The dense base layer is like a rich, fudgy brownie, so don’t overcook it or the dessert bars will be dry. Refrigerating the mint bars allows the chocolaty top layer to set properly. You can make the dessert up to one day ahead.
A combo of cocoa powder and melted chocolate makes for a rich, ultra-chocolaty dessert. We updated the recipe to use heavy cream in place of the half-and-half in the original.
These chocolate soufflés are an uber-decadent dessert and the perfect finishing touch to dinner parties or a quiet, romantic dinner. You can even prepare the ingredients ahead; spoon the batter into soufflé dishes, cover, and freeze until you're ready to cook them. They can go straight from the freezer to the oven. Make the sauce ahead too, and simply warm it before serving.
The custard base will be thick, but whipped topping is folded in to give it the classic airy texture of a mousse. Because this dessert needs time to chill, it is a terrific make-ahead option.
Baklava is a classic Mediterranean dessert that traditionally features layered phyllo dough, nuts, and syrup or honey. In this version, creamy chocolate-hazelnut spread adds rich, decadent flavor to this nutty, crowd-pleasing pastry.
Under 90 calories and packed with flavor, these no-bake goodies are a perfect chocolate treat for parties. We’ve cut out a lot of the unnecessary butter and added more chocolate chips to provide firmness, texture and a beautiful gloss to these cookies.
Bittersweet chocolate and dried cherries lend the perfect amount of sweetness to hearty oatmeal cookies. Double the recipe and store extras in the freezer for whenever you need a healthy treat.
With a presence as large as its namesake state, this humble, easy-to-prepare cake made it all the way to the finals for our best chocolate recipe bake-off. Since it first appeared in the magazine 12 years ago, it's been a staff and reader favorite.
Decadent, warm, and gooey turtle brownies meet creamy vanilla frozen yogurt drenched in a drool-worthy fudge sauce. Licking your screen yet? This dessert is perfect for any occasion and will always leave you begging for seconds.
Dried cherries and crystallized ginger add a depth of flavor to this simple, four-ingredient chocolate bark. This recipe will satisfy your sweet tooth in a delicious way.
Serve these delightful 100-calorie chocolate sandwiches for a snack or dessert. Break 1 chocolate graham cracker rectangle in half. Spread 1/2 tablespoon chocolate hazelnut spread (such as Nutella) onto one half. Top with remaining half.
Our version of this quick dessert uses shaved bittersweet chocolate for added richness. Look for amaretti cookies at specialty or gourmet markets; they have a distinct almond-amaretto flavor and crunchy texture that make this dish memorable. In a pinch, you can substitute crumbled almond biscotti.
Indulgent as it may seem, a cup of rich hot cocoa can offer enough health benefits to dissolve any guilt. One cup has twice the level of antioxidant activity of a five-ounce glass of red wine and two to three times more than a cup of green tea. This version combines bittersweet chocolate and unsweetened cocoa with espresso, brown sugar, and orange rind for a pick-me-up that's enjoyed in Spain and Europe.
A twist on a family favorite, this mousse is even more decadent and satisfying than a German chocolate cake. Top off the rich mousse with toasted pecans for a tasty and pretty garnish.
This gluten-free dessert separates into two layers as it bakes, a tender chocolate spongelike cake and a rich chocolate-cherry sauce, creating a warm and gooey texture.
A big cloud of fluffy meringue sits on top of this classic. Rest assured healthy eaters, the base of this dessert is fat-free frozen Greek yogurt — much healthier than a cream-based frozen dessert.
Try something new and swap out the traditional chocolate covered strawberries for apples. If you can't find Braeburn apples, Gala or Fuji varieties also stand up to dipping and add a touch more sweetness.
Stir 1 teaspoon brewed espresso (or strong coffee) into 3 tablespoons fat-free chocolate pudding. Divide evenly between 3 mini phyllo cups.
Great for any party, these crispy chocolaty snacks are a delightful treat that everyone will enjoy. Gently stir 2 tablespoons crispy rice cereal, 2 teaspoons chopped dried cherries, and 1 teaspoon toasted chopped almonds into 1 tablespoon melted semi-sweet chocolate chips. Dollop onto wax paper and let dry.
It may not be the prettiest pie, but many folks speculate this cross between a chocolate-bottomed pie and a chocolate cake was named for its textural similarity to the rich, gooey mud found all along America's greatest river.
Ground red pepper adds a subtle but distinct kick to the pie, while instant espresso powder intensifies the flavor. Omit either or both if you prefer a standard chocolate cream pie.
Creamy milk chocolate gets a hazelnut kick from Nutella, Frangelico, and the nuts themselves. While you can certainly enjoy two or three truffles without going overboard calorie-wise, we suggest serving one perfect treat on the saucer with a cup of coffee or espresso.
This easy kid-friendly treat is sweet and satisfying, delivering that classic chocolate-peanut butter combination we all know and love.
These sophisticated brownies started with a box of gluten-free brownie mix. Gluten-free mixes are tricky and will be very thick when stirring. After the brownies bake the center will not appear done, but will firm as the batter cools.
Fat-free milk thickened with cornstarch for the filling and meringue instead of whipped cream on top makes this a lighter, just as tasty choice than a traditional chocolate pie.
Spread batter as evenly as possible on baking sheet. When shaping the shells, balance the wooden spoons between objects that are about 6 inches apart. Allow plenty of room so you can work quickly.
Drizzle 1 mini brownie bite with 1/2 teaspoon caramel syrup and top with 1 toasted pecan half for a sweet 100-calorie chocolaty treat.
We give you fudgy, decadent brownies at half-the-calories. We replaced the typical ton of butter with a combo of low-fat baking tricks. Two kinds of chocolate—cocoa and melted dark chocolate—add deep chocolate flavor.
At only 100 calories per serving, this cup of pudding is perfect for a guilt-free, after-dinner snack. Stir 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract and 1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper into 1 fat-free chocolate pudding cup. Top with 1 tablespoon fat-free whipped topping.
You start with brownies and then top them with a swirl of sweetened tahini that gives a delightful nutty depth of flavor and richness. Be sure to use untoasted sesame oil in the batter; the dark, toasted kind would be too strong.
Stuffed with a sweet marshmallow cream filling, these homemade chocolate sandwich cookies are lighter than they taste. Package them individually in plastic wrap to take along for a romantic picnic or to share with friends and family.
Since 2006, readers have professed their love for contest winner Anna Ginsberg's One-Bowl Chocolate Mocha Cream Cake, touting it as the moistest cake ever. We agree—the cake is incredible. But online reviews suggested that the topping could use some tweaking. Instead of the original "mocha cream" of whipped topping, marshmallow creme, and coffee, we now have a creamy, less-sweet meringue. We also replaced reduced-fat mayonnaise (yes, mayo—it's the secret ingredient that makes for a fantastically moist cake) with canola mayo, our current product of choice.
Treat your friends and family with a batch of homemade peppermint patties. Stir 1 finely crushed peppermint candy into 3 tablespoons softened chocolate frozen yogurt. Spoon yogurt between 2 chocolate wafer cookies (such as Nabisco). Press gently to seal.
We love the classic flavor combination in this light, moist Chocolate-Orange Layer Cake. Instead of a full frosting, simply spoon a warm chocolaty glaze over the two layers.
Cocoa nibs, which are broken bits of husked cocoa beans, add delicate chocolate flavor and delicious nutty crunch to baked goods. You can find cocoa nibs at upscale supermarkets and gourmet cookware stores. When you make this recipe, don't be alarmed that the batter is very wet—the end result will be moist, tender minicakes.
Light and airy, these meringues are drizzled with a glaze of melted chocolate for a perfectly sweet bite. Tip: make sure to let the meringues cool completely until you move or eat.
This is a salty, sweet pick-up dessert that works as well for a snack as it does for a party. Dip the pretzels, and store in the fridge on a parchment-lined tray up to five days ahead. Set out shortly before serving, but not too far ahead, as the chocolate may melt.
Chocolate and nuts are the perfect combination to top off sweetened ricotta and cream cheese in this cannoli. Swap out the pistachios for peanuts or almonds for a different taste.