Jean Anderson took the sin out of desserts finally

April 05, 1992|By Jane Snow | Jane Snow,Knight Ridder News Service

A paragraph was omitted from a story on sin-free desserts in Sunday's Food & Home section. The complete recipe for chocolate poundcake from Jean Anderson's book, "Sin-Free Desserts," is below.

Chocolate poundcake

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch process cocoa '' powder

2 1/2 cups sifted flour

2 cups unsifted confectioners' sugar

1 3/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 1/3 cups granulated brown sugar

3/4 cup extra-light olive oil or vegetable oil

1 cup liquid egg substitute

1 1/4 cups evaporated skim milk

1/2 cup water

1 tablespoon vanilla

confectioners' sugar for dusting

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9-inch, 12-cup bundt pan with cooking spray and dust with the 2 tablespoons cocoa powder, tapping out excess cocoa.

Sift flour, confectioners' sugar, remaining 1/2 cup cocoa, baking powder, soda and salt into a large mixing bowl. Stir in brown sugar. Make a well in center of dry ingredients.

In a 1-quart measuring cup, whisk the oil with the egg substitute, milk, water and vanilla until uniformly creamy; pour into the well in the dry ingredients and stir briskly just enough to mix. The batter will be very thin and a bit lumpy, but do not beat any further or cake will be tough. Pour batter into pan.

Bake 45 to 50 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted near center comes out clean. Cool in pan for 20 minutes, then invert onto wire rack and cool completely. Dust with confectioners' sugar.

It was her 17th cookbook. And it was a toughie, even for a pro like Jean Anderson.

"Sin-Free Desserts" (Doubleday, $22.50), a collection of 150 low-cholesterol, reduced-fat confections, took Ms. Anderson three years to write. Taking the eggs out of chocolate mousse, the cream cheese out of cheesecake and the butter out of poundcake was not easy, she says.

"It's sort of like problems in chemistry, figuring out ways to do this," says Ms. Anderson.

In the end, she did it with such style that the book was nominated for a prestigious James Beard Food and Beverage Book Award, one of three in the healthful eating category. The winner will be announced May 2.

Ms. Anderson, who lives in New York, admits that slim cuisine isn't her usual forte. She's best known for such books as "The Food of Portugal" and "The New Doubleday Cookbook," both award-winners. She became interested in low-cholesterol recipes when she noticed that many of her friends were under doctors' orders to give up butter and cream.

"So I began figuring out ways to take the fats and cholesterol out of these recipes," Ms. Anderson says.

She didn't shy away from challenges. Her book is filled not with recipes for gelatin molds and crisp cookies, but with the drop-dead desserts that fill restaurant pastry carts: peach torte, strawberry shortcake, chocolate poundcake and even cannoli.

"I talked to a lot of friends and said, 'Hey, what's your favorite dessert and what don't you think you'll ever eat again?' " she says.

There are no egg yolks, butter or cream in any of the recipes. She experimented with liquid egg substitutes, oils, yogurt, tofu and a vegetable-based cream cheese substitute until the flavors and textures passed muster both with her and her friends.

"I wanted desserts that do not make you feel deprived. . . . These really do satisfy me," she says.

Although Ms. Anderson concentrated on cholesterol, not calories, removing some of the fat naturally lowered the calorie content of many of the items. Ms. Anderson, incidentally, lost 40 pounds while writing the book, she says.

The gorgeous shortcake is made with low-fat buttermilk and olive oil, and filled with fresh berries and fluffy "cream" made with cottage cheese, sugar and gelatin.

Strawberry shortcake


1 2/3 cups sifted flour

1/3 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

2/3 cup low-fat buttermilk

1/4 cup extra-light olive oil or vegetable oil


1 1/2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin

2 tablespoons cold water

2 cups low-fat cottage cheese

1/3 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/8 teaspoon fresh-grated nutmeg

2 pints strawberries, hulled and halved

1/4 cup sugar

2 tablespoons orange juice

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Spray two 8-inch-round cake pans with nonstick vegetable spray and set aside.

For the shortcake, sift flour, sugar, baking powder and soda into a medium bowl; make a well in the center. Combine buttermilk and oil, pour into the well and mix briskly just enough to make a soft but manageable dough; do not overmix or shortcake will be tough.

With lightly floured hands, pat dough over the bottom of prepared pans, dividing the amount equally. Bake 12 minutes, until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans for 10 minutes, then remove from pans and cool completely on wire racks.

For the filling, combine gelatin and water in a small, heat-proof bowl and let stand 5 minutes. Place in a small pan of hot water set over medium-low heat, and heat 3 to 4 minutes, until gelatin dissolves; set aside.

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