One of the hardest things about the holidays for me is all of the food. Sometimes it feels impossible to be able to see all my family and friends and have self control at the same time. It’s really easy to rationalize just one more slice of pie or cookie. When I feel like I’ve reached my limit of treats, I find that one of the best solutions is to bring a dessert of my own. I like to pitch in when it comes to parties, and this is a great way to pitch in and allow myself a little control over the options on the menu. Luckily for me (and everyone else trying not to over-indulge), there are a ton of options for holiday desserts that are under 300 calories a serving.
One of my favorite parts of bringing a dish to a party is either having a darling serving dish to showcase my dessert or something that can be tossed when we’re done. It depends on how many people will be involved. If I’m heading to a large party, it’s easier to take a container like this that can be tossed when it’s empty. Then no one has to worry about washing and returning dishes. If it’s a small get together, then I definitely prefer to showcase my dishes like these with a special addition like this!
Now that we’ve covered the why and how it’s time to go over the what of holiday desserts! Here are my four favorite rich holiday desserts.
Rich Holiday Desserts Under 300 Calories
Holiday Dessert 01: Pear Tarte Tartin
This dessert allows pears to do the heavy lifting and really shine. It’s sweet but not overpowering, luscious without being heavy, and pairs perfectly with unsweetened whipped cream. This dessert clocks in at just 210 calories per serving.
Pear Tarte Tatin
- ¼ c. sugar
- 2 tbsp. water
- 1 tbsp. honey
- 1 tbsp. butter
- ¼ tsp. cinnamon
- 5 large Anjou pears (2 lb. 10 oz., peeled and quartered)
- 1 sheet frozen puff pastry thawed
- flour for dusting
- ¼ c. heavy cream
- ¼ tsp. ground cardamom
- Start by placing your puff pastry on the counter to dethaw. Then heat the water, sugar, and honey in a non-stick oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat. Continue to stir until the mixture gets bubbly and begins to darken in color, about 5 minutes. Next, stir in the butter and cinnamon and mix until dissolved. Then add in the pears and cook, without stirring just rotating the pan, until the syrup has thickened and the pears are tender, about 45 minutes.
- When the pear mixture is close to being done, preheat the oven to 400°F and roll the puff pastry out over a lightly floured surface until you have an 11-inch square. Then place the pastry over the skillet and trim the edges.
- Bake the pear and pastry for about 18-22 minutes, or until the pastry is golden brown. Allow the tart to cool completely (about two hours) before inverting onto a plate. While the tart is cooling, whip the cream and cardamom together until soft peaks form. Serve with the pear tarte and enjoy!
Holiday Dessert 02: Winter Pavlova
If you’ve never had pavlova, you’re missing out. This dessert is sweet, crunchy, but also light and perfect with fresh fruit. It can be prepped days in advance, making it ideal for busy weeks. Trust me on this, you’ll love it. Add some chopped pistachios for a little more of a color pop. At only 152 calories per serving, you can have two without feeling guilty!
- ¾ c. sugar
- 2 ½ tsp. corn starch
- 3 large egg whites room temp
- ⅛ tsp. cream of tartar
- ⅛ tsp. salt
- ½ c. pure maple syrup
- 1 c. fresh or frozen cranberries
- ½ c. plain whole-milk yogurt
- 2 oz mascarpone cheese room temperature
- ½ tsp. orange zest
- ¼ tsp. chopped fresh rosemary
- 1 large Honeycrisp apple thinly sliced
- ⅓ c. pomegranate seeds
- fresh rosemary sprigs
- Begin by preheating your oven to 225°F and lining a baking sheet with parchment paper. Using masking tape, secure the parchment to the sheet.
- In a medium bowl, mix the sugar and cornstarch together and set aside. Next, place the egg whites in the bowl of your stand mixer and whip on medium speed until it's foamy (about a minute). Then add in the cream of tartar and salt, continuing to beat until blended. Add the sugar mixture, 2 Tbsp. at a time, until you begin to see glossy, stiff peaks and the sugar has dissolved. This should take about 3 minutes, no more.
- Softly spoon the egg white mixture into 8 mounds that are about 3" wide and 2 ½" tall on the parchment paper. Alternatively, you can pipe them into a ring. Bake in the middle rack until a crust forms, about an hour and a half. Then turn off the oven and allow the meringue to stay in the oven for at least 4 hours and up to 12 hours.
- Next, microwave the maple syrup in a medium bowl for 1 minute before adding in the cranberries and giving a good stir. Place this mixture into a covered container and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.
- When you're ready to serve, fold the mascarpone, yogurt, zest, and rosemary together until smooth. Then strain the cranberry mixture, reserving the sauce for later. Add the apple slices and pomegranate to the cranberries and toss lightly.
- Before serving, spoon 1 ½ tbsp. of the yogurt mixture onto each meringue and top with ⅓ c. of fruit mixture. Garnish with a sprig of rosemary.
Holiday Dessert Recipe 03: Dark Chocolate Pistachio Tart
This dessert is decadent. As a bonus, it’s gluten-free! It clocks in at 265 calories a slice, but trust me when I say that one slice will be more than enough for any sweet tooth. All you need is one of these tart pans and you’re set. This dessert should replace pie everywhere.
Dark Chocolate Pistachio Tart
- 1 ¾ c. raw unsalted shelled pistachios divided
- 2 tbsp. raw unsalted shelled pistachios
- ¼ tsp. fine sea salt
- 2 large egg whites
- ¼ c. apricot preserves
- ¾ c. half and half
- 10 oz. dark chocolate (70%) chopped
- ¼ tsp. flaky sea salt
- Start by heating your oven to 300°F and coating a 9-inch tart pan with cooking spray. Then place 1 ¾ c. of the pistachios on a baking sheet and bake for 8 minutes, or until lightly toasted. Then remove from the oven and allow to cool for at least 15 minutes. Increase the oven temp. to 350°F.
- Next, chop the toasted pistachios in a food processor until finely ground, about a minute. Mix the ground pistachios and fine sea salt together and set aside.
- Then beat the egg whites on high with an electric mixer until stiff peaks begin to form. Gently fold the egg whites into the ground pistachios before pressing the mixture into the bottom and sides of the tart pan. Placing the tart pan on a baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes or until browned. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for at least 30 minutes.
- When the crust is cooled, spread the apricot preserves evenly across it. Then bring the half-and-half to a soft boil in a saucepan before pouring it over the chopped chocolate. Allow to sit for a minute before beginning to stir. Stir until the mixture is smooth, then pour over the top of the apricot preserves. Place the tart into the fridge and chill for at least 2 hours. Last, chop the remaining pistachios and sprinkle over the top of the tart with flaky sea salt.
Holiday Dessert Recipe 04: Tiramisu
This dessert is a classic, and shouldn’t be overlooked during the holidays. It’s fancy and flavorful! Grab a trifle bowl and make things look extra fancy. If you’re worried about the espresso, feel free to substitute with a quality hot chocolate.
- ½ c. water
- 2 tbsp. sugar
- 2 tbsp. instant espresso granules
- 2 tbsp. Kahlua
- 8 oz fat-free cream cheese room temperature
- 3.5 oz. mascarpone cheese
- ⅓ c. sugar
- ¼ c. packed brown sugar
- 2 tbsp. Kahlua
- 24 cakelike ladyfingers
- 1 ½ tsp. unsweetened cocoa
- ½ oz bittersweet chocolate grated
- Start by making the espresso drizzle. Combine the espresso, water, and sugar in a small saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Cook for a minute, stirring occasionally. Then remove from heat and stir in the Kahlua. Allow to cool completely.
- Next, combine the cheeses and whisk together using an electric mixer. Add ⅓ sugar, brown sugar, and remaining Kahlua and continue to beat until smooth and blended.
- After choosing your dish, place a layer of halved ladyfingers (cut side up) in the bottom. Follow with drizzling half the espresso mixture over the ladyfingers. Then, either spread or pipe half of the filling over the ladyfingers. Repeat with the remaining ladyfingers, espresso drizzle, and cheese filling. Last, combine the cocoa and chocolate and sprinkle over the top of the filling. Cover and chill for two hours. Serve and enjoy!