By Kuniko Ibaraki, translated by Jessica Bezer (New York: Vertical, Inc., 2009, 80 pp., $14.95, paperback)
At first glance, the title may create skepticism in many die-hard dessert connoisseurs, but every recipe in this book is grounded in Kuniko Ibaraki’s idea that delicious desserts can be made without the use of oil, butter or heavy creams. The book’s recipes use sugar, eggs, milk and modest amounts of cheese, but are still very ambitious, taking on normally butter, oil and dairy-laden desserts such as shortbread, baumkuchen and ice cream. Ibaraki instead uses ingredients such as condensed milk, gelatin, yogurt and different starches as binders, showing readers how a little time and creativity can create tasty treats with significantly less calories.
While some recipes may cause you to raise an eyebrow, (none of Ibaraki’s cheesecake recipes use any kind of cheese) other recipes are surefire winners, such as her airy chiffon cakes and different flavored tarts filled with fresh fruits, nuts and chocolate. Her recipe for no-fry donuts is also ingenious, using the oven in two temperatures instead of deep-frying in oil.
The book itself is easy to read and full of attractive color photographs, including helpful step-by-step photos that show procedural steps. Also, every recipe does a calorie comparison to a “regular” recipe using butter and oil, showing you how many calories can be avoided. Ibaraki also devotes sections to techniques and utensils, detailing what tools to use in place of buttering or greasing a pan, and how to aerate eggs properly to ensure the proper lift in a cake.
Although some of the cakes appear a little flatter than their fattier counterparts, the recipes in this book are hands down much healthier, beautifully presented and are definitely worth trying. To a practiced palate, the desserts will taste different from the originals, but will still taste surprisingly good. This book is perfect for anyone watching their cholesterol, or looking to find lower calorie substitutes for their favorite baked goods. So don’t worry and indulge!