3 Classic Fall Desserts Without All The Sugar

You can have your sweet treat and eat it, too—without the crash or guilt.

October 20, 2016
roasted pear dessert
America's Test Kitchen

'Tis the season for pumpkin pie and all things apple—the only problem, of course, is all that sugar, which can leave you tired, cranky, and reaching for even more sweets to get the pep back in your step. Lucky for you, America's Test Kitchen Naturally Sweet has the solution: Deliciously authentic desserts with 30 to 50 percent less sugar than their classic counterparts. Go ahead, have a slice (or two) of pie, without the sugar crash. 

This article was originally published by our partners at Prevention.

sweet potato pie
1/3 America's Test Kitchen
Roasted Sweet Potato Pie

Serves 8

1¾ pounds sweet potatoes (about 3 potatoes), scrubbed
4 tablespoon unsalted butter
¾ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup sour cream
5 Tablespoon honey
2 Tablespoon bourbon
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
3 large eggs + 2 large yolks
1 All-Butter Pie Crust, baked and cooled (see below, or use 9-inch store-bought crust)

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 425 degrees. Arrange potatoes on foil–lined baking sheet and bake until tip of knife slips easily into potato center, 40 to 50 minutes. Halve potatoes lengthwise to expose flesh and let cool slightly, 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees.

2. Melt butter with cinnamon and nutmeg in microwave, 15 to 30 seconds. Scoop flesh from potatoes into bowl of food processor. Add salt and process until smooth, one minute, scraping down bowl as needed. Add spiced butter, sour cream, honey, bourbon, vanilla, and eggs and yolks and process until smooth, one minute, scraping down bowl as needed.

3. Pour potato mixture into cooled pie crust. Set pie on baking sheet and bake until filling is set around edges but center registers 165 degrees and jiggles slightly when pie is shaken, 40 to 45 minutes, rotating sheet halfway through baking. Let pie cool completely on wire rack, two hours. Serve.

Traditionally, this delicious dessert will have up to 37 grams of sugar, but with this easy-to-follow recipe, you've cut the sugar content down to 16 grams. 

Related: 7 Things That Happen When You Stop Eating Sugar

All Butter Pie Crust

4 teaspoon sour cream
1¼ cup (6¼ ounce) all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
7 tablespoon unsalted butter, cut into ¼-inch pieces and chilled

1. Whisk three tablespoons ice water and sour cream together. Process flour and salt in food processor until combined, five seconds. Scatter chilled butter over top and pulse until butter is size of small lentils, about 10 pulses. Drizzle half of sour cream mixture over top and pulse until incorporated, about three pulses; repeat with remaining sour cream mixture.

2. Pinch dough with fingers; if dough feels dry and does not hold together, add one to two tablespoons more ice water and pulse until dough forms large clumps and no dry flour remains, three to five pulses.

3. Form dough into 4-inch disk, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and refrigerate one hour. (Dough can be refrigerated up to two days or frozen up to two months. If frozen, let dough thaw completely on counter before rolling.)

4. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Let chilled dough sit on counter to soften slightly, 10 minutes. Roll dough into 12-inch circle on lightly floured counter. Loosely roll dough around rolling pin and gently unroll it onto 9-inch pie plate, letting excess dough hang over edge. Ease dough into plate by gently lifting edge of dough with hand while pressing into plate bottom with other hand. Trim overhang to ½-inch beyond lip of plate. Tuck overhang under itself; folded edge should be flush with edge of plate. Crimp dough evenly around edge of plate using fingers. Wrap dough-lined plate loosely in plastic and freeze until dough is firm, 15 minutes.

5. Line chilled pie crust with double layer of foil, covering edges to prevent burning, and fill with pie weights. Bake until dough looks dry and is pale in color, 25 to 30 minutes, rotating plate halfway through baking. Transfer plate to wire rack, remove weights and foil, and let cool completely, 30 minutes.

By following this recipe, your all-butter pie crust will have zero grams of sugar.

apple cake
2/3 America's Test Kitchen
Apple Cake

Serves 8

2 tablespoon unsalted butter + 10 tablespoons melted
2 Golden Delicious apples, cored, peeled, halved, and sliced ⅛" thick
2 cup apple cider
1 cup dried apples, cut into ½" pieces
1½ cup (7½ ounce) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
1 large egg
2 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon lemon juice

1. Melt one tablespoon of the butter in 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add apples and cook, stirring often, until just translucent and slightly pliable, three to five minutes. Transfer to bowl and let cool.

2. Add cider and dried apples to same skillet and simmer over medium heat until liquid evaporates and mixture appears dry, 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer to separate bowl and let cool.

3. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Grease 9-inch round cake pan. Whisk flour, baking soda, and salt together in large bowl. In food processor, process cider mixture, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves until smooth, about 30 seconds, scraping down bowl as needed. Add egg and process until combined, 15 seconds. With processor running, slowly drizzle in 10 tablespoons melted butter. Using rubber spatula, fold pureed apple mixture into flour mixture until combined.

4. Scrape batter into prepared pan and smooth top. Shingle cooked apple slices around top in decorative circle. Bake until toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, 32 to 35 minutes, rotating pan halfway through baking.

5. Remove cake from oven and heat broiler. Microwave remaining one tablespoon butter with honey until melted, 15 to 30 seconds. Stir in lemon juice and brush mixture over apples. Broil cake, checking often and turning as necessary, until apples are attractively caramelized, four to six minutes.

6. Let cool in pan 10 minutes. Run knife around edge of cake to loosen. Invert cake onto plate, then invert again onto rack. Let cake cool completely, 1½ hours, before serving.

This recipe cuts the sugar content from 27 grams to 18 grams.

Related: Your Simple 3-Day Diet Detox

roasted pear dessert
3/3 America's Test Kitchen
Roasted Pears With Cider-Caramel Sauce

Serves 8

3 tablespoon unsalted butter
4 firm but ripe pears, peeled, halved, and cored
1 cup apple cider
½ teaspoon cornstarch
¼ cup dried cranberries, chopped
⅛ teaspoon salt
2 star anise pods
2" piece ginger, peeled and lightly crushed
1 cinnamon stick
2 tablespoon chopped toasted and skinned hazelnuts

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 450 degrees. Melt two tablespoons of the butter in 12-inch ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Place pear halves cut side down in skillet and cook until just begin to brown, three minutes.

2. Transfer skillet to oven and roast pears 15 minutes. Using tongs, carefully flip pears cut side up and continue to roast until tip of paring knife easily pierces fruit, 10 minutes.

3. Remove skillet from oven (handle will be hot) and transfer pears to platter. Whisk cider and cornstarch. Return skillet to medium-high heat and add cider mixture, cranberries, salt, star anise, ginger, and cinnamon. Simmer vigorously, scraping up any browned bits with spoon, until sauce is thickened slightly and measures ¾ cup, five to seven minutes.

4. Remove from heat, discard cinnamon, star anise, and ginger and stir in remaining one tablespoon butter. Spoon sauce over pears, sprinkle with hazelnuts, and serve.

This recipe will cut the sugar content from 24 grams to 14 grams.

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