Marge Perry, Newsday's weekly 3 Simple columnist, also writes, broadcasts, teaches and speaks about cooking, food and nutrition.
INDIVIDUAL STRAWBERRY CHEESECAKE TARTLETS
4 ounces Neufchâtel (light) cream cheese
1/2 cup light sour cream
1/4 cup confectioners sugar
6 individual graham cracker crust shells
2 tablespoons apple jelly
2 cups strawberries, cut in thin wedges
2 tablespoons shaved chocolate (optional)
1. Combine the cream cheese and sour cream in a medium bowl and whip with an electric mixer until smooth. Add the sugar and again beat until smooth. Spoon into the prepared crusts and smooth the top. Refrigerate at least 2 hours.
2. Melt the jelly until smooth in a microwave. Allow to cool as you fan the strawberries out over the cheesecake filling. Brush the tops of the berries with the melted jelly and allow to cool at least 5 minutes. Sprinkle with chocolate if using. Makes 6 servings.
Nutritional analysis for each serving: 207 calories, 3 g protein, 28 g carbohydrates, 1 g fiber, 10 g fat, 3 g saturated fat, 189 mg sodium
HAZELNUT CHOCOLATE MOUSSE
1/2 cup hazelnut-chocolate spread (such as Nutella)
1/4 cup sour cream
1/2 cup heavy cream plus 2 tablespoons, divided
Cookies or berries for garnish (optional)
1. Combine the hazelnut-chocolate spread, sour cream and the 2 tablespoons of the heavy cream in a medium bowl and beat until smooth and well combined.
2. Beat the remaining 1/2 cup cream in a second bowl to the firm peak stage. Scoop out about 1/4 cup of the whipped cream and stir it into the chocolate mixture. Gently fold the remaining whipped cream into the chocolate until it is well combined. Spoon into 4 small bowls or ramekins and refrigerate at least 2 hours.
3. To serve, garnish each bowl with a cookie standing up in the mousse and/or strawberry slices if desired. Makes 4 servings.
Nutritional analysis for each serving: 359 calories, 4 g protein, 24 g carbohydrates, 1 g fiber, 27 g fat, 14 g saturated fat 34 mg sodium
CHOCOLATE PECAN-TOPPED STUFFED STRAWBERRIES
12 large strawberries
4 ounces Neufchâtel (light cream cheese)
1 tablespoon milk
2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
3 tablespoons chopped pecans
1/4 cup chocolate chips
1. Cut the stem end of the strawberries across to form a flat bottom; place flat side down on a platter. Cut a deep x through the tip of each strawberry and gently spread them open.
2. Beat the cream cheese and milk until soft and smooth; add the sugar and again beat until smooth. Place in a zip-top plastic bag and push into one corner. Snip the corner of the plastic and pipe through the hole into each strawberry. Sprinkle the pecans over the top.
3. Melt the chocolate chips in a microwave; when slightly cool, spoon into a second plastic bag. Again, snip the corner and drizzle the chocolate over the top of the berries. Refrigerate until the chocolate becomes firm, about 20 minutes. Makes 4 servings.
Nutritional analysis for each serving: 62 calories, 1 g protein, 5 g carbohydrates, 1 g fiber, 5 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 33 mg sodium