Baking homemade Valentine’s Day treats for your loved ones is always a great gift.
Just in time for Valentine’s Day, “Sweet & Skinny: 100 Recipes for Enjoying Life’s Sweeter Side” author/chef Marisa Churchill stopped by Access Hollywood Live to share some tasty treats using less sugar and less fat!
Here are the recipes featured on today’s show:
RED VELVECT CUPCAKES
(Makes 16 cupcakes/Per cupcake: 190 calories, 8 grams fat)
1 1/2 cups cake flour
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa, Dutch-processed
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup canola oil
2 tablespoons finely grated raw beet
1 1/2 tablespoon natural red food coloring
3 large eggs
1 egg white, from large eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
6 ounces (3/4 cup) reduced-fat cream cheese (Neufchatel), softened
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 vanilla bean or 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350 with a rack in the center position. Line 16 muffin cups with cupcake liners.
To make the cupcakes: Sift the flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt into a small bowl. Sift a second time to remove any lumps. In another small bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, oil, beets, and food coloring. Set these aside.
In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the eggs and egg whites on high until they are foamy. Gradually add the sugar and continue to beat for about 6 minutes longer or until the mixture is thick and pale yellow. Use a spatula to gently fold the flour mixture into the eggs, then fold in the buttermilk mixture.
Divide the batter evenly among the prepared muffin cups and bake for 15 minutes, or until a wooden skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer the cupcakes in their liners to a wire rack to cool at least 2 hours before frosting.
To make the frosting: Put the cream cheese into a medium bowl and sift in the powdered sugar. Use a paring knife to slit the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape the seeds into the bowl. Beat with an electric mixer on medium until the frosting is completely smooth.
Frost the cupcakes with a small icing spatula. Refrigerate any leftover cupcakes in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKES WITH SOUR CREAM WHIPPED TOPPING
(Serves 9/Per serving: 290 calories, 12 grams fat/Per serving (sugar-free): 245 calories, 12 grams fat)
2 ounces (1/4 cup) Kraft reduced-fat cream cheese (Neufchatel), cold, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) unsalted butter, cold, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon low-fat buttermilk, cold
2 pints strawberries, hulled and quartered
4 to 5 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
Sour Cream Whipped Topping:
Powdered sugar, to finish (optional)
Preheat the oven to 450 with a rack in the center position. Coat a baking sheet with pan spray (even if it is nonstick) or line it with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
To make the shortcakes: Arrange the cream cheese and butter in a single layer on a baking sheet and freeze until they are firm to the touch but not frozen through, about 20 minutes.
In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt. Cut in the cold cream cheese and butter using a fork or pastry cutter until they form small pieces ranging from the size of oat flakes to peas. (Alternatively, use a standing mixer and the paddle attachment on low to mix in the butter and cream cheese.) Stir in the buttermilk, mixing just long enough to make a soft dough.
Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface, kneading gently just once or twice to bring it together. Roll or pat the dough into an approximately 7 x 7-inch square, about 1 inch thick. Use a sharp knife to cut the biscuits into 3 strips one way, then 3 strips the other, to make 9 squares. Place the biscuits on the prepared baking sheet and bake 12 to 15 minutes, until they are golden.
Transfer the baking sheet to a wire rack to cool completely, about 1 hour.
To prepare the berries: Put the strawberries in a medium bowl and add the sugar and lemon juice. (Use the larger amount of sugar if the berries are very tart.) Stir for about 1 minute, until the berries begin to release their juices.
Split open the biscuits and place a bottom half on each dessert plate. Spoon the berries and their juices over the biscuits and top each with one-third cup of the whipped topping, then a biscuit top. Lightly sift powdered sugar over the top of the shortcakes, if desired.
CINNAMON-SUGAR ANGEL FOOD CAKE WITH CHERRIES JUBILEE
(Serves 4/Per serving: 260 calories, 0 grams fat)
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/3 of the Rosemary Angel Food Cake (page TK, omitting the rosemary and glaze), or 1/3 of a 10-inch store-bought angel food cake, cut into 24 approximately 1-inch squares
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
1 cup Bing cherries, fresh or frozen, pitted
1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon brandy
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
Preheat the broiler to low with a rack in the center position. Line a rimmed baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper.
In a small bowl, stir together one and one-half tablespoons of the sugar with the cinnamon. Dip the cake squares into the cinnamon-sugar to coat them on all sides, placing them onto the prepared pan as you finish them.
In a small saucepan, stir the cornstarch and the remaining two and one-half tablespoons sugar. Stir in 2 tablespoons of water to make a smooth paste, then stir in the orange juice. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, for 2 minutes, until the mixture begins to thicken. Add the cherries and cook 5 minutes longer, until the cherries are tender. Add the almond and brandy.
Using an oven mitt and taking care to point the pan away from you, carefully tip the sauce (if you are using a gas stove), or light with a match or lighter, until the flame dies down, to burn off the alcohol. Alternatively, cook the sauce another minute or two, which will evaporate most of the alcohol. Stir in the lemon juice; set aside.
Place the pan of cake squares under the broiler to toast for 3 minutes, until the edges begin to brown and crisp. Remove the pan from the oven, use tongs or your fingers to carefully turn the cake pieces upside down, and return to the oven for 1 minute longer to brown the other side.
Serve 6 toasted cake squares per plate, topped with the cherries and sauce. Serve immediately.
STRAWBERRY-BLACK PEPPER MARACONS
(Makes 28 macarons/Per macaron: 60 calories, 1.5 grams fat)
2/3 cup blanched slivered almonds
1 1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, ground as fine possible
3 egg whites, from large eggs
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon liquid red food coloring
1/2 cup strawberry jam
Line two rimmed baking sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment paper.
Process the almonds and powdered sugar in a food processor for 1 minute, until the nuts are very fine. Scrape the mixture into a medium-mesh strainer placed over a medium bowl, discarding any pieces that are too large to fit through the holes. Stir in the black pepper; set aside.
Using a standing mixer and the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on high until they are foamy. (Alternatively, use a handheld electric mixer.) Add the cream of tartar until it is incorporated. With the mixer running, gradually add the sugar, a few teaspoons at a time, pausing briefly between additions. After all of the sugar is in, continue to mix just until medium peaks form, no longer. They should curl over softly when you lift the beater. Add the food coloring just until the mixture is evenly colored.
Fold half of the almond mixture into the whites with several quick, sweeping strokes. Once it is mostly incorporated, fold in the remaining almond mixture, mixing just until the mixture is combined.
Spoon the mixture into a piping bag fitted with a #4 round tip. (Alternatively, use a re-sealable plastic bag: fill, press out the air, seal, and snip off one corner.) Pipe 1 1/2-inch circles of the batter onto the prepared pans, evenly spacing them about 3/4 inch apart.
Lift and tap the pans firmly against a flat surface several times to release any air bubbles. Set the pans aside at room temperature for 30 minutes. While the macarons rest, preheat the oven to 320°F. with racks in the upper and lower third of the oven.
Bake the macarons for 12 minutes. Rotate the pans from top to bottom and front to back and bake 5 minutes longer. Place the pans on wire racks to cool for at least 20 minutes, or until you can easily peel the meringues from the baking mats or parchment.
To fill the cookies, spoon three-quarters of a teaspoon of jam onto the bottom of one cookie and gently press the bottom of a second cookie over the jam to make a sandwich. Repeat with the remaining cookies.
Store the cookies at room temperature in an airtight container, separating the layers with waxed paper, for up to 5 days.
INDEPENDENCE DAY FLOAT
(Serves 6/Per serving: 160 calories, 0 grams fat)
9 1/4-inch-thick slices peeled ginger root
1 cup sugar or 1/2 cup Truvia
1/2 pint (1 cup) ripe blackberries
2 1/2 tablespoons elderflower liqueur, such as St-Germain
1 1/2 cups ripe strawberries
Scant 1/4 cup agave nectar or Truvia
1 1/2 quarts club soda, chilled
To make the syrup: Put the ginger and sugar into a small saucepan and add 1 cup of water. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat, then boil for 10 minutes, until it is somewhat thickened.
Put the blackberries into a medium bowl and mash them with a fork. Pour the hot syrup over the berries and let steep for 30 minutes. Strain through a fine mesh strainer into a small bowl. Stir in the liqueur.
To make the sorbet: Process the strawberries and agave nectar in a blender until the mixture is smooth. Transfer to a covered container and freeze for 2 hours to firm it.
To serve: Place one or two small scoops of sorbet into the bottom of 6 tall glasses , dividing the sorbet evely among the glasses[MSOffice1]. Add 1 cup of chilled club soda to each glass, then pour in 3 to 4 tablespoons of the syrup, depending on your preferred sweetness. Do not stir; instead, allow the syrup to swirl and mix in on its own, creating a lovely visual effect. Serve with a straw and an iced tea spoon.
BACON TOFFEE FOR THE CONTEMPORARY COOKIE TIN
(Makes about 45 candies/Per candy: 50 calories, 2 grams fat)
Nonstick pan spray
4 1/4-inch-thick slices smoked bacon, preferably applewood-smoked
2 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon salt
Scant 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/4 cup sugar
2 1/2 tablespoons light corn syrup or honey
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
1 teaspoon smoked coarse sea salt, to garnish
Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and cook for about 2 minutes on each side, until the edges are crisp and brown. Lower the temperature to medium and continue to cook until completely dried and crisp. Blot the bacon with a paper towel and transfer it to a sheet pan. Cool the bacon for 5 minutes, then finely chop it. Put the chopped bacon into a small bowl and sprinkle it with smoked paprika, salt, and baking soda, tossing to coat. Set aside.
In a small, non-reactive saucepan (stainless steel or copper works best; avoid nonstick), stir together the sugar, corn syrup, and one-third cup water to completely moisten the sugar. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat, using a pastry brush dipped into cold water to brush any sugar crystals from the sides of the pan. After the sugar dissolves and the mixture is clear and bubbling, raise the heat to medium-high. Add the butter, a spoonful at a time, without stirring, allowing it to melt between additions. Once the mixture begins to turn a darker caramel color, stir it with a heat-proof spatula, as needed, to cook evenly. When the mixture turns a deep golden color, turn off the heat and, working carefully (it will be very hot!), vigorously stir in the bacon-paprika mixture.
Immediately pour the toffee onto the prepared pan and spread it into a thin layer, covering the entire pan. Cool the toffee for 15 minutes, until it is set. Invert the pan over a flat surface to release the toffee from the foil and break it into about 45 pieces.
Just before serving, melt the chocolate in the top of a double boiler until you can stir it smooth. (Alternatively, use a microwave oven.) Use a butter knife to spread a thin layer of chocolate onto the flat side of the toffee pieces and sprinkle with the smoked salt. Let the chocolate firm up for 20 minutes before serving.
Refrigerate any leftover toffee in an airtight container for up to 1 week.