Here's how to get maximum chocolate goodness with minimal effort.
Credit: Becky Luigart-Stayner

"Have a tiny piece of something really superb," I used to say to hungry dieters longing for something luscious but lean. I owned a well-known chocolate dessert shop in Berkeley, California. With a no-holds-barred approach to butter, cream, and chocolate, I had no interest in low-fat.

But flattery―in the form of an invitation to teach low-fat chocolate desserts in a "celebrity" cooking class about a dozen years ago―broadened my view on the subject. Not that I knew how to make any low-fat chocolate desserts, but I definitely had ideas.

During the years I taught, the students and I learned together that the best ingredients, good technique, and a little bit of knowledge are all you need to make great light chocolate desserts. Low-fat desserts must meet the same high standards as any other desserts. Great flavor is always the goal, no exceptions. How do you get it? Follow these simple tips.

• Choose the best and freshest ingredients. Fresh chocolate? Yes, like any ingredient, chocolate that's been sitting around the pantry for too long is not best.

• Use small amounts of the real thing. I rarely use lower or fat-free versions of anything, with the exception of some low-fat dairy products. Baking with low-fat chocolate is like wearing a bikini―you can't hide much.

• Employ cocoa powder―far and away, cocoa delivers the richest chocolaty flavor with the least amount of fat.
Using these techniques―and the recipes that follow―you can have more than a tiny piece of something superb.