Lighter American Desserts
Lighten Up, Desserts!
Now this is what we call a sweet ending! We triple-tested and triple-tasted every single one of these lighter dessert recipes to give you the great texture, quality, and flavor you expect from your favorite treats.
It can't get any more all-American than our first dessert—Blue-Ribbon Apple Pie!
This recipe was inspired by the version that won Pam Brunet a blue ribbon at the LaFayette Apple Festival in New York. She layers a flour-and-cinnamon-sugar mixture with apples to create a dense, rich layer of fruit. Pam credits this recipe to her mother-in-law, Grandma Brunet.
Roasted Banana Pudding
The genius in this recipe is that the bananas are cooked two ways: Some are partially roasted and sliced, so you get sweet bananas that keep their shape. The rest are fully roasted, almost caramelized, so you get bananas with rich, sweet flavor. For a fun presentation, scoop the pudding mixture into pretty ramekins.
Pound Cake with Brown Butter Glaze
Heart-healthy canola oil replaces a good bit of the butter traditionally used to make this dessert. Soaking a vanilla bean in the oil adds deep, rich flavor ; you’ll never miss the butter.
In this classic confection from the Buckeye State, peanut butter and chocolate combine to create an adorable replica of an Ohio tree nut.
Classic Fudge-Walnut Brownies
These fudge-walnut brownies are so decadent tasting, you won't believe that they're lower in fat than traditional brownies. To ensure a nice fudgy texture, take care not to overbake. Large chocolate chunks create big, luxurious pockets of melty chocolate in the brownies, but you can always substitute chocolate chips.
You’ll find that this recipe is very similar to the famous recipe on the Quaker Oats package—only lighter. We cut the original amount of butter almost in half and added molasses to bump up the flavor.
Pumpkin Pie With Vanilla Whipped Cream
This is the pie you remember from many Thanksgivings, made better for you. Instead of using a can of regular evaporated milk, we swapped in a fat-free version.
Cranberries, blueberries, and Concord grapes are the only berries native to America that are commercially grown. Cranberries were first used by Native Americans, who valued them as a food, fabric dye, and healing agent. American farmers now harvest over 40,000 acres of cranberries a year, meaning you can find them fresh over the fall and winter months. This recipe highlights their fresh natural flavor while adding a little oat-enhanced crunch for interest.
Texas Sheet Cake
Red Velvet Cupcakes
The frosting takes this red velvet cupcake recipe from great to fantastic. The secret here: real butter and full-fat cream cheese—just less of it. The results are mouthwateringly good.
Butter-Crunch Lemon Bars
A buttery, crunchy pastry crust forms the base for a tangy lemon filling. You can substitute fresh orange juice and grated orange rind for lemon, if you wish. These are best served chilled.
Trifle dishes are a popular wedding gift, but, sadly, many of them go unused. Pull yours out of storage and fill it, as intended, with pound cake, fruit, and whipped cream.
Key Lime Pie
The small, pale green Key lime is prized for its almost herbal aroma and pronounced acidity. The compact fruits are tart, sharp, and memorably sour—some might say borderline bitter. It’s a taste sensation that works particularly well in baking and in beverages.
Vanilla Cheesecake with Cherry Topping
You can make both the cheesecake and the topping up to three days ahead and store them separately in the refrigerator. Or chill the cooled cheesecake in the pan for two hours, then wrap in heavy-duty plastic wrap and freeze for up to two months. Thaw the cheesecake in the refrigerator.
Chocolate lovers rejoice! This rich cake gives you a hit of chocolate in each element—the batter, filling, and glaze. And three kinds of chocolate are used: cocoa, bittersweet chocolate, and milk chocolate.
Peach pie isn’t that difficult to make in the summer, especially when you use a store-bought crust instead of one that's homemade. Make the process even quicker by adding peaches with the skins on, lending their bright color to the pie. And on a beautiful summer day, wouldn't you rather skip the step that has you standing over a pot of steaming hot water blanching peaches to remove their skins?
Lemon-Poppy Seed Bundt Cake
A favorite flavor combination—lemon and poppy seeds—enhances this version of the classic Bundt cake.
This is apple pie’s less-fussy but just-as-tasty little sister.
Vanilla Bean Ice Cream with Fresh Strawberries
This recipe was inspired by Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home, by Ohio-based ice cream maker Jeni Britton Bauer.
Buttery yellow cake with creamy chocolate frosting—what could be better on a birthday? Use baking spray with flour to prevent the cake layers from sticking to the pans.
Ideally, fruitcake should be made at least a month before you plan to serve it, but it will last for several months when stored tightly wrapped in the fridge.
Magic Cookie Bars
These are also known as seven-layer or Hello Dolly bars. They take 30 minutes of hands-on prep and call for just eight ingredients, making them the perfect dessert for taking, well, just about anywhere!
St. Louis Butter Cake
A beloved St. Louis dessert whose very name includes “butter” with fewer than 200 calories and 4 grams of saturated fat per luscious serving? Yes!
No-Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Drops
No-bake cookies make even the most oven-shy baker look like a hero. You’ll see them at bake sales, fundraisers, and in millions of homes across the country as an after-school snack. We've cut out a lot of the unnecessary butter and added chocolate chips, providing firmness, texture, and a great gloss to these cookies.
The name for this Pennsylvania Dutch treat likely came from the flies it attracts when it's pulled from the oven and left to cool on a breezy windowsill.
The light coconut milk in this recipe delivers richness, flavor, and moisture without all the extra saturated fat found in regular coconut milk.
Vanilla Cupcakes with Creamy Vanilla Buttercream
Cupcakes of every imaginable flavor are all the rage these days, but it’s hard to beat the rich simplicity of vanilla.
Old-Fashioned Sugar Cookies
This dough will work for slice-and-bake cookies or as a rolled dough for your favorite cookie cutters.
Chocolate-Peanut Butter Bars
These bars are a classic of kids' cooking adventures and home economics classes. Try this updated version of the bars, fit for modern palates, with your own young chef. Substitute light brown sugar for the dark if you are looking for a milder bar.
This simple custard pie originated in the 1800s as a way to use ingredients typically on hand: butter, flour, and sugar or maple syrup. Similar to the Hoosier Pie is the Pennsylvania Chess Pie; both were created, it's believed, by Shaker and Amish cooks.
Warm spices and brown sugar add rich, caramelized flavors to this carrot cake. If you can’t find fromage blanc, use more cream cheese.
Peanut Butter Cookies
These are just like Grandma made, complete with the crosshatch pattern on top. It’s easier than you think to make the pattern; just crisscross the tines of a fork and press gently into the top of each cookie before you bake.