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Apr 30, 2008 10:42 PM


Here's the place to discuss, inform, argue, praise, etc. Alice Medrich's Chocolate and The Art of Low Fat Desserts.

Please feel free to post links to info and recipes, etc.

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  1. So, I've been reading through this book and am so excited to cook from it. Medrich has a very firm philosophy on lightening up the desserts without sacrificing deliciousness--which is perfectly consistent with my personal chowhounding/weight loss philosphy. She has a fantastic section in the back of the book detailing her approach to lightening recipes in general, which is very interesting and helpful for my future efforts to lighten up desserts in general.

    Anyway, I tried the low-fat lemon curd this morning. I used Splenda instead of sugar in order to make the recipe fit the Weight Watchers core plan even thought I know using Splenda is an absolute violation of Medrich's "nothing articifial" policy. Nevertheless, a gal's gotta do what a gal's gotta do.

    The curd turned out delicious--really, the taste was very similar to real lemon curd. I could definitely tell it was Splenda, not sugar, but only just a hint. The lemon juice is strong enough to overcome most of the Splenda aftertaste for those sensitive to Splenda. Probably not noticable at all for those not sensitive to Splenda.

    My only teensy gripe about the recipe is that it didn't quite have the same texture as regular lemon curd. It was frothier and runnnier, whereas real lemon curd is more...hmmmm...firm? gelatinous? I guess? I don't know if this is the way the recipe is, if I did something wrong, if I make "regular" lemon curd wrong, or if it's the fault of the Splenda. I think it's the latter, actually. I know Splenda just doesn't have the same binding properties sugar does.

    I stirred this into a bit of plain yogurt this morning as a little perk-up to breakfast. Very nice!

    I'll try to post a photo later, assuming it came out okay.


    4 Replies
    1. re: The Dairy Queen

      I think it probably was the splenda, because when I've made it, it has not been runny. I do love lemon curd in all forms, but what I really love about this version, completely aside from its nutrition profile, is its tart, clear lemon flavor, which I'm sure is attributable to the absence of butter. Without that extra fat, the lemon flavor just really sings.

      1. re: Caitlin McGrath

        Agreed. It is very lemon-y.

        I also tried the pumpkin pudding that goes in the pumpkin nests on page 54 of Art of L-F Desserts. I used Splenda instead of sugar and used non-fat evaporated milk. Though a bit out of season, it was a perfectly lovely, and super easy, dessert. I'm sure it would be more spectacular in the phyllo nests and garnished as she describes, too...maybe for another day!

        This would be a great Thanksgiving or fall recipe.


        1. re: The Dairy Queen

          Here's a photo of the pumpkin pudding--not that exciting a photo, but here it is nevertheless. The pudding was good chilled on day 2 also.


          1. re: The Dairy Queen

            And while I'm at it, here's a fuzzy photo of the lemon curd.


      2. I made her Cranberry Pecan cake last night, except for..... changing all the flavors, hehe. I made it with 1/2 tsp lemon oil and 2 tbsp dried lavender flowers, and changed the glaze to water with lemon oil. It turned out great!!

        I used a 50/50 Earth Balance butter blend stick, so it is even more low-fat, hooray. Next time I don't think I'll do her crazy mixing instructions though, it might have led to a little bit too dry of a texture. Other than that, easy, simple, but comforting cake without all the crazy butter that other pound/tea cakes usually have.

        4 Replies
        1. re: mesohuangry

          Dear mesohuangry:

          Interesting post, but it'd help if you could describe which ingredients you switched/deleted. Did it have cranberries and pecans?

          Also I'm interested in the "crazy mixing instructions" leading to "a little bit to dry of a texture". Since COTM is as much a discussion of why things DON'T work, I'd love to see a discussion of the above.


          1. re: oakjoan

            Hey, sorry... yes, the original recipe had 2 cups cranberries, 1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts, and grated zest of 1 orange instead of the lavender flowers. Also, in the glaze, it used 3 tbsp of orange liqueur instead of water.

            The original mixing directions were: "On low speed, beat in a third of the flour mixture. On medium-high speed, beat in half of the yogurt. On low speed, beat in half of the remaining flour. On high speed, beat in the rest of the yogurt and the vanilla. On low speed, beat in the rest of the flour. Use a rubber spatula to fold in the cranberries and nuts."

            I thought perhaps the switching back and forth between the speeds would give it some sort of volume in the body, but after eating the cake, the directions felt sort of unnecessary to me. Alternating between flour and yogurt is still probably a good idea, but just keeping at low speed is fine and simpler.

            Also, if anyone is curious, the nutrition facts for the original cake made with cranberries and pecans, based on 10-12 servings (she doesn't say which), is 256 calories, 8.5g fat, 30.9mg cholesterol.

            1. re: mesohuangry

              Sorry to be so dense here, but I'm really interested in understanding what you did (because, as you all may or may not know by now, I'm freakishly interested in cutting fat and calories lately)--so you omitted the cranberries and nuts altogether, right? So this became a lemon/lavender cake instead of a cran/nut cake, right?


              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                haha yup, that is what happened. :)
                i think i shall try it toasted tomorrow morning for breakfast! mmm.

        2. I made the chocolate truffle mousse last night for the purpose of using it as a cake topping. I used natural cocoa, because I find most dutched cocoa too dull for my taste so I don't keep it around. I also used a 72% dark chocolate. Because I was using less sweet chocolate and bolder cocoa powder, I kept the full amount of sugar in the recipe. It is too sweet for my taste - a criticism of a lot of low-fat desserts, but the texture is nice. It set up nicely overnight, but it too soft to support the bittersweet glaze I was going to top it with. Quite a few steps to put it together, making a swiss meringue and a pudding and then folding together basically, but it isn't terribly difficult if you have a thermometer.

          1. I bought this book when it came out: paid full price and it was a time when I was getting everything from the library so that hurt. I have made a lot of the stuff. The cocoa mousse is good and versitile, the lemon curd is good (double the recipe. it does not make much.)
            A particularly good thing about it is that she tells you how long the stuff keeps. Very few cookbook writers are that thorough.
            The cheesecakes are great (a hand blender helps a lot with these. You have to puree cottage cheese fine to make many of the dairy desserts.)
            The caramel Oranges with Rum are fa, fa, fabulous. I used just the shards of caramel, which a clueless relation thought was broken glass (Oh yes, I break beer bottles in my desserts all the time.)
            The Chocolate Haystack was good, and you can substitute pecan meal for the crushed hazelnuts.
            The bittersweet chocolate truffles are a pain to make (but good.)
            The Chocolate macaroons are good, as are Hot Ginger Hearts. If you make the cornmeal cookies cut them THIN. They are hard as heck otherwise.The plain chocolate cookies are very good (I made them as mexican chocolate cookies too. Very good.)
            All the biscotti are good, but you may have to adjust some of the fluids and stuff to get the right texture.
            The brownies are good.
            If you make the Lemon Bars, either make twice as much of the filling or half as much of the crust (otherwise, too much crust.) LEAVE THE FLOUR OUT OF THE FILLING.
            Anyone with questions, feel free to ask - but that's my take on the book, as I have not made any more from it.

            1 Reply
            1. re: drasaid

              This is great info, I bought the book recently and haven't made anything from it. Thanks!