Healthy Dessert Recipes

If you’re looking for a sweet treat for after dinner, you’ve come to the right place! I have a major sweet tooth, so I love making cookies, cakes, ice cream and other homemade desserts.

These healthy dessert ideas are made from scratch with nourishing ingredients. Whether you’re looking for gluten-free recipes, following a Paleo or Keto diet, or just want to enjoy a tasty snack with less sugar, we have tons of ideas. 

Paleo dessert recipes are naturally sweetened with honey, maple syrup, and dates. Keto desserts are low carb and use sugar alternatives, like stevia and monk fruit. I also love making dairy free dessert recipes using coconut milk and plant-based butter alternatives. And of course, you’ll find plenty of desserts made with minimally processed ingredients like whole grain oats, whole wheat flour, and fresh fruit. 

Some of my personal favorite dessert recipes include: 

Dairy free cupcakes, chock-full of banana flavor and topped with amazing brown sugar buttercream frosting that you’ll want to eat by the spoonful

Air fryer donut holes made from scratch, like these delightful pumpkin spice donut holes that are perfect for Fall

Small-batch thumbprint cookies made with almond flour and topped with apricot and tart cherry preserves

Say goodbye to processed treats and hello to delicious desserts made from scratch in your own kitchen.

Lavender and Vanilla Bean Macarons

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Why what do we have here? Just my long promised second (and more successful!) post about making macarons! I know. I left you hanging for forever. A few of you even emailed me. But what can I say? I got distracted by other goodies like pineapple upside-down cake, cappuccino cheesecake, and a delicious orange pound cake that I still need to post.

I recently began seeing a group of people on twitter posting about a monthly #mactweets event. It took me a while to figure out what exactly was going on, but eventually I got it : a group of people looking to perfect macarons, and sharing laughs, encouragement, and cheers along the way. All with a monthly theme. I’ve been watching from the sidelines for a while, but decided that this would be the month that I would jump right in.

The theme for March is “Spring Fling: Baking Your Favorite Springtime Flowers.” I’ve been looking for an excuse to buy some of the beautiful dried flowers that they keep in the bulk bins at the co-op, so this was the perfect month for me to start! It took me a while to settle on a flavor, but I ended up choosing lavender and vanilla bean macarons with buttercream frosting.

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I’m not going to lie. These are tricky little devils to make! It actually took me two tries to get them right – I over folded my first batch and ended up with flat, cracked cookies that stuck to the baking sheet and were a huge mess to clean up. But I didn’t give up. Instead, I did a little more reading and gave it another go. My results still weren’t perfect, but they were a lot closer! I mean, how cute are these?!

A few tips that I learned along the way:

  • You need to mix the batter a lot more than you think you should. It’s ok! Start out quickly and the slow down — it should take around 50 strokes. When it’s folded enough, the batter will flow like magma, and a line drawn in it with a knife will disappear after about 10 seconds.
  • Use a scale. It’s much more accurate than trying to measure your ingredients.
  • Parchment paper works better than a silpat. I don’t know why, but it does.
  • Don’t crowd your oven. Bake one tray at a time, turning it halfway through so they cook evenly.
  • It’s much easier to put your “toppings” on before the macarons bake. I don’t now why I thought I would be able to get stuff to stick to them once they were baked last time!!

Also, one of the things that I didn’t like about the other recipe I had used was that it didn’t call for the piped macarons to rest before baking. Instead, you baked them for a few minutes at a high temperature, and then the rest of the way at a lower temperature. I much prefer the method of letting them rest, which helps the tops dry out. When they bake, the dried top will rise straight up, giving you nice, ruffly “feet.”

The tops on this batch isn’t as smooth as I would have liked — blame that on me being lazy and not sifting my sugar/almond mixture. Also, I didn’t let my egg white age (my aged white went into my failed batch). I’m not sure what aging does to them, but these seemed to come out ok. They were also a little more hollow than they should be. So I know what I have to work on for next month. But for now, not bad, if I do say so myself. {….]

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Daring Bakers: Kahlua Tiramisu

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When it’s done right, I love tiramisu. But when it’s not done right, it can be pretty disappointing – too sweet and too sloppy. So it goes without saying that I had mixed feeling when I saw that the February 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen and Deeba of Passionate About Baking. They chose Tiramisu as the challenge for the month.

Their challenge recipe is based on recipes from The Washington Post, Cordon Bleu at Home and Baking Obsession. As part of the challenge, Aparna and Deeba also required that we make our own mascarpone and lady fingers. It seemed like a lot of work for such an iffy outcome, and since I’ve been so exhausted lately I seriously considered not participating in the challenge. But some of my friends on twitter were encouraging, promising that despite the length of the recipe and the time involved, the dish wasn’t complicated to make and that it was some of the best tiramisu they’ve ever had.

I’m glad I took their advice – this was hands down one of my favorite daring bakers challenges to date. The tiramisu was surprisingly easy to make and it tasted fabulous! Not too sweet (though I did cut down on the sugar slightly) with the perfect balance of cream to cake. It also freezes really well, which is great because keeping it readily accessible in the fridge would be way too dangerous! Keeping it in the freezer allows me to thaw just the amount that I want – and makes it difficult to go back for a second slice! I would definitely make this recipe again – it would be the perfect ending to a dinner party.

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The one downside of this recipe is that is does take some advance planning if you’re making it completely from scratch. The cheese itself takes a day to make. Then you’ll want to make sure that the creams have time to chill before you assemble the cake (a half hour in the freezer was enough for mine). Once assembled, you’ll want to let the tiramisu rest for at lest a day to allow the flavors to meld together. I promise you though – it’s worth the wait!

This recipe is different from a lot of other tiramisu recipes in that it uses a zabaglione (an egg custard) and pastry cream in the filling. He flavors his with marsala wine, but I didn’t have any of that, so I used kahlua. I really liked the extra coffee flavor that this gave the final dish. You can use whatever you want though – and it doesn’t need to be alcohol. Extra coffee would be great, as would a fruit puree if you want something less traditional.

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This is a long one, so the recipes are after the jump.

Mini Pineapple Upside Down Cakes

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Life has been insane lately and I haven’t had the time or energy to post, but I couldn’t wait any longer to post these.

I hadn’t had pineapple upside down cake in forever. I actually kind of forgot that it existed! But a few months ago, a little pineapple upside down bundt cake at Panera caught my eye. i bought one and was happily surprised when the cakes were fully of crunchy little poppy seeds. I loved the texture that they gave the cake! I immediately knew that I wanted to recreate them at home.

These came out great! The pineapple reminds me of summer and makes even the dreariest winter day seem immediately tropical. The pineapple and brown sugar almost melts into the cake, which is moist and doughy with the great crunch. [….]

(Merry Christmas) Cappuccino Fudge Cheesecake

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So here’s the deal… I wasn’t going to post this cake. First, because I didn’t come up with the recipe or change it enough to consider it my own and, second, because of that obnoxious little “healthy” part of Healthy. Delicious. But then I decided that it would be mean of me not to share because oh my goodness this cheesecake was beyond ridiculous and is 100% my new favorite indulgence. My mouth is watering just looking at the pictures.

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Three layers: a rich chocolate ganache spiked with kahluha, a fluffy, mousse-like layer of the most perfect cappuccino cheesecake ever, all topped with a cool, creamy layer of sweetened sour cream. It’s enough to turn even the staunchest of cheesecake and coffee haters into cappuccino cheesecake lovers. More than one person told me that it was the best cheesecake they’d ever had. It also got me a high-five.

The entire cake – all 16 slices – was devoured within about 5 minutes. I’m not even going to tell you how many calories was in each slice (believe me, you don’t want to know!) but it was worth every last one. It’s certainly not a cake to be baking on any old weekend, but for holidays? You can bet I’ll be making this one again! As should you! If you have any last minute holiday gatherings this week, I suggest running straight to the store to get what you nee to make this. It’ll be the hit of the night. And anyway, we all have another week before our diets start up again, right? 😉 [….]

Crispy Salted Chocolate Chip Cookies

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(Before I start talking about these cookies, I’ll let you know that there’s a great giveaway at the end of this post. Including FREE CHEESE!)

Ok, now that that’s out of the way…..

I’m not going to go on and on about how these are the best chocolate chip cookies in the world. I promise. Everyone thinks they’re recipe is the best and, honestly, few stand up to the one that printed on the back of the bag of chocolate chips. But sometimes you’re looking for something different. Something… crispier! Soft, gooey cookies have their place but sometimes I just want a little bit of crunch. They’re great for dunking in eggnog (I don’t like dunking soft cookies – they get too soggy) and they keep really well. They best chocolate chip cookie recipe ever? I’ll leave that up for debate. But let’s just say if I was Santa, whatever kid left me a plate of these would be written on the “nice” list in permanent marker. [….]

Low-Fat Pumpkin Cinnamon Buns with Cream Cheese Icing

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People often ask me where I get my inspiration in the kitchen. It’s a hard question to answer, because it comes from all sorts of places. Sometimes its a simple as a restaurant menu, a childhood memory, or a random item that catches my eye in the grocery store. Other times it’s a little more random – a color, a texture, a feeling. The inspiration for these pumpkin cinnamon buns came from a question. Someone on twitter asked how they should use up some leftover pumpkin cream cheese icing. My mind immediately went to cinnamon buns. Pumpkin and cinnamon goes so well together, and I thought pumpkin cinnamon buns sounded fabulous. I did some research, attempted a few recipes, and finally came up with a pan of buns that I couldn’t keep my hands off of. [….]

Lemon Ricotta Cupcakes with Blackberry Icing

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I love fall, but I’ve been a little bummed that summer seemed to come and go so quickly this year — it rained almost every day in July and we really only had about two weeks of really nice weather before it started to get cold outside. I decided that even though they aren’t exactly season-appropriate, I would bake some lemon and blackberry cupcakes to remind myself of the warmer days. I may have spent the past few weeks bundled up in a winter coat and eating apples and squash, but one bite of these cupcakes will transported me right back to summer. [….]

Layer Cake with Raspberry and Chocolate Buttercream

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Ever since I made that delicious dobos tort, I’ve been in the mood to bake cake. I’m usually a chocolate cake kind of a person, but I decided that I wanted to mix it up and make a yellow cake to bring to my parents house this past weekend. Specifically, I wanted to make a yellow cake filled with raspberry and iced with chocolate buttercream. As much as I love chocolate, there’s something wonderful about this combination. [….]