Cherry almond cobbler — without the side of guilt

I love dessert.

Like really, really love dessert.

Ice cream, Pop-Ice, cupcakes, pie — present it on a plate and I’ll probably eat it. I’d rather cut calories a hundred other ways than sacrifice my sweets, which sometimes means my lunches and dinners can get drab . . . but it’s worth it to indulge in those little extras.

Eventually I realized maybe I could have my cake and eat it, too, as they say. If I tried making lighter desserts, I could enjoy my sweets without the extra helping of guilt that sometimes accompanies them. Look, I’ll be honest: I’m a curvy woman who likes to eat. And bake. Counting calories sucks. I’ve never been skinny and doubt I ever will be, so I do the best I can to exercise, eat healthy — and bake wisely. Having calorie-laden goods hanging around the kitchen counter is a recipe for derailment.

Enter this lower-fat cherry almond cobbler. Adapted from this AllRecipes creation, the dessert calls for vanilla yogurt, egg whites and a limited amount of added sugar. The result is more cake-like than cobbler-ish, but it’s delicious and light — almost like angel food cake with fruit! Even my cherry-hating dad and sister gave it a solid B and B-, respectively. (And my cherry-loving heart gives it an A.)

Lighter cherry almond cobbler

Adapted from

1 cup fat free vanilla yogurt
1 1/2 cups sugar
6 egg whites
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup slivered almonds
1 (20 ounce) can reduced-sugar cherry pie filling
Fat-free whipped topping, if desired

In a mixing bowl, beat yogurt and sugar. Add egg whites; mix well. Combine flour and baking powder; stir into yogurt mixture. Pour into a 13 x 9-in. baking pan coated with nonstick cooking spray. Spoon cherry filling on top, then cover with slivered almonds. Bake at 350 degrees F for 40-50 minutes or until filling is bubbly and toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Top with whipped topping, if desired.

Improvising: Almond lemon butter cookies

After bragging about my well-stocked kitchen on Twitter, I settled in to bake Spicy Lemon Butter Cookies — a long-standing recipe in my “to be baked” folder — only to discover . . . well, my pantry was stocked. Until I used up all my ingredients.

Gone were two staples of any baker’s repertoire: nutmeg and vanilla extract. Vanilla extract. I mean, seriously? We’re out of vanilla? Rookie mistake to not check and see if we had vanilla. I was cocky, friends, and I’ll admit it: I was wrong.


Still, I was in the mood to bake. So I improvised. The vanilla became almond, my most favorite of all flavors; and the nutmeg became extra cinnamon, which I added generously. If I’d been on my A-game, I would have thought to substitute cardamom — the most exotic of all spices in my pantry.

But I wasn’t. I was flustered.

Despite my frequent dessert-baking, I still consider myself an amateur. Cookies scare me. Unlike cupcakes, which have a foolproof pull-out-a-toothpick way of checking doneness, you can’t really tell if cookies are done until they’re . . . done. Or, in my case, “extra crispy.”

They were still delicious. Light, fluffy, and with a very distinct almond taste (and aroma!) I love. I could definitely see these at a summer or spring party, and I’m sure they’d be pretty if you didn’t make them as large as I did! Abide by the 1-inch-size cookie ball rule, friends. Abide. They spread.

Almond Lemon Butter Cookies

Adapted from WordFlux’s Spicy Lemon Butter Cookies

1 cup (2 sticks) of unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
pinch of salt
1 egg
1 tsp almond extract
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp lemon zest
2 cups unbleached flour

Beat butter, sugar, salt, egg, almond, cinnamon and lemon zest in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in flour on low-speed until well mixed. Refrigerate 1 hour. Alternatively, you can shape the dough into a log and wrap in a parchment paper before putting in the fridge.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Shape dough into 1-inch balls or, in case you have made a log, slice the dough. Place on ungreased baking sheets. Flatten with a fork.

Bake 12 minutes or until lightly browned around edges. Cool on baking sheets 1 minute. Remove to wire racks; cool completely. Store in an airtight container.

For more delicious and food-related posts (recipes, novels, and more!), head over to Weekend Cooking, hosted by Beth Fish Reads.