How to Make Joanna Gaines’ Favorite Holiday Baked Goods a Little Lighter
The HGTV star shared her sinfully delicious treats on Instagram—but is there a way to enjoy them without feeling guilty?
You can’t find better quality time to bake than during the holidays—you might have a favorite holiday cookie recipe, or maybe you’ve found inspiration for a stunningly beautiful Christmas cake, thanks to great Instagram posts that get you excited to break out the bakeware.
If the latter is more your style, you might have come across Joanna Gaines’ no-bake recipes yesterday: a few of her most treasured holiday treats that are shockingly easy. The Fixer Upper co host shared step-by-step instructions with her fans for three different holiday sweets, which she says are some of her family's favorites.
While we’re all due for a sweet treat over the holidays, we noticed that the Gaines’ holiday treats might be just a little too indulgent for many Cooking Light readers. The HGTV’s darling duo have sweet teeth for chocolate-covered peanut clusters, as well as caramel and chocolate infused pretzels, and homemade Ritz peanut-butter sandwiches dunked in white chocolate. They look delicious, but sound like surefire ways to feel sugar-drunk.
But not to worry! We took a close look at Joanna’s holiday treats and found, hidden within our coffers, lightened versions that are just as easy to make. Each of our delicious alternatives can be made in your kitchen with 10 minutes of prep time or under and all clock in at under 150 calories.
We’re flipping the tables on television’s favorite house flipper by making these classics even better:
1) Peanut Clusters
Gaines’ approach to this staple holiday treat is very simple—she adds roasted peanuts to melted chocolate bark that she’s heated in the microwave. Mixing the ingredients, she places spoonfuls of the mixture on a cold sheet pan lined with wax paper and lets them cool. We imagine she makes quite a few of these batches given that they’re her husband’s favorite.
Make instead: Chocolate- Butterscotch-Nut Clusters
Our version uses a similar approach, but we swap store-bought chocolate bark for chocolate and butterscotch chips, which we seamlessly melt in a double boiler. Our Chocolate-Butterscotch-Nut Clusters are astoundingly delicious and manageable at just 80 calories per piece.
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2) Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter “Cookies”
Gaines ingeniously uses melted white chocolate as a batter for peanut butter sandwiched between two Ritz crackers. She shared that she then lets her kids decorate these “cookies” with sprinkles while they cool on wax paper.
Swap with: 100-Calorie Chocolate Peanut Butter Swirls
We love the salty-sweet combination of peanut butter and chocolate, but the key to keeping this dessert manageable is nixing the Ritz cracker altogether. Our delicious alternative is this no-bake recipe that is ready in just a few minutes. They’re 100 calories each and can be effortless goodie to make and bring to neighbors and friends.
3) Rollo-Infused Almond Pretzels
This is the only sweet treat where Gaines used an oven, placing Rollo chocolate candies on top of pretzels and melting them in a warm oven for a few minutes. She finishes it off by sticking a whole pecan into the middle of each.
Make this: Peanut Butter and Chocolate Dipped Pretzels
Rollo candy is not exactly the healthiest option on the market, but you can achieve that yummy salty and sweet flavor combination by harnessing the power of chocolate and peanut butter. Cooking Light’s executive food editor, Ann Taylor Pittman, uses naturally sweet honey-wheat pretzel twists to make these ultra-portable peanut butter and chocolate dipped pretzel twists. They’re just as fun to make, don’t require an oven, and are only 135 calories each.