I’m not going to lie to you: Desserts without sugar do not taste as good as desserts with it.
But diabetes is not to be taken lightly. It is literally a matter of life and limb. Amputations are common with diabetes. So is blindness. Sugar makes it worse, and so do carbohydrates.
Basically, everything that makes a dessert good is what makes it bad for diabetics, who now make up a huge part of the population. More than 29 million Americans have diabetes — that’s one out of every 11 Americans — and three times that number are at risk for developing it.
But diabetics deserve dessert, too, and they can have it — provided they do not indulge too often, that the desserts they eat are low in sugar and carbohydrates and that their portions are sensibly small.
That’s where today’s recipes come in. They’re appropriate for diabetics or anyone with a sweet tooth who is looking to lose some weight. Considering that they are made with little or no sugar, they’re surprisingly good.
They’d be better with more sugar and carbohydrates, but we’re talking about people’s lives and limbs.
The first dessert I made, Crispy Peanut Butterscotch Pie, is truly excellent, even with fat-free, sugar-free, instant pudding mix, sugar-free (or fat-free) frozen whipped dessert topping and just one tablespoon of honey for six servings.
It is also made with what is generically specified as “oven-toasted rice cereal.” That means Rice Krispies. Use Rice Krispies.
Two things make this dessert great, and both of them are peanut butter. One is the way peanut butter goes so blissfully with butterscotch, even when it is fat-free, sugar-free, instant butterscotch pudding mix. And the other is the incredibly resourceful crust made from peanut butter, honey and Rice Krispies.
It’s light. It’s crispy (sorry, Krispie). And it’s downright delicious.
My next dessert was mind-blowingly gorgeous, and it tasted almost as good as it looked. To be frank, it would be perfect if it used real sugar. The only problem with the diabetic-friendly version is that the Splenda I used left behind a faint aftertaste, as sugar substitutes are wont to do.
But here is the beautiful part of the Double Berry Pie Squares: They are made with fresh strawberries and frozen raspberries simmered with gelatin. It’s a little sweet, a little tart and a marvelously rich shade of red.
A graham-cracker crust makes the perfect base for the fruity center of the squares, and a dollop of (sugar-free) Cool Whip on top adds just the right amount of creaminess — or whatever Cool Whip is.
My next dessert divided our taste testers right down the middle; half of them loved it, half hated it.
It’s chocolate meringues, though they are both more and less than chocolate meringues. More chocolate, less sugar.
Technically called Bites of Chocolate Bliss (not my fault, folks), these meringues aim to satisfy the cravings of a diabetic chocoholic. They do so by ramping up the amount of cocoa to compensate for the relative lack of sugar.
But cocoa is a bit bitter, and the cookies it makes are very chocolatey, but not very sweet. They fall somewhere on the scale between chocolate that is bittersweet and unsweetened. It’s all a matter of taste.
My final dessert is a diabetic version of a parfait, made entirely without sugar. In place of ice cream, it uses a mixture of Greek yogurt and whipped cream (the cream, of course, is whipped without sugar). For the fruit filling, you simply swirl in some sugar-free jam.
It’s very simple to make, and very satisfying. You don’t have to be diabetic to love it.