Well the first day of fall has come and gone so I’m ready to announce the official start of baking season. That’s right: it’s all about cookies, cakes, and we must not forget the pies! I must say, I love a good pie, with a nice flaky crust; and I thought I’d celebrate the kick off to the fall season with some decidedly seasonal fruits that just scream AUTUMN to me. That’s right, pears and apples. I just love these two flavors together, when the pears are just slightly sweeter than the apple, yet not quite as crisp. With a bit of a milder flavor, then combined with the crisp tartness of a beautiful green granny smith apple. It’s a flavor combo I will never tire of, and I decided to switch things up a bit by making a few tweaks to this recipe by making it low calorie. I get a lot of emails asking for healthier desserts; low calorie, reduced sugar but still full of richness and flavor.
I know I had a tough task in front of me with this one, because pies are technically flour, butter, sugar, maybe some fruit or cream and possibly even some shortening. That’s not exactly a low calorie type of indulgence, but I did some homework and found Born Sweet® Zing™ Baking Blend – a combination of stevia leaf extract and cane sugar made with only real ingredients – nothing artificial – that bakes and browns just like sugar, with only 5 calories per serving. Sounds great, right? It’s an easy supplement; just replace the sugar ingredient for half as much of this sweetener. So if a recipe calls for two tablespoons of sugar, you just need one tablespoon of Zing™ Baking Blend. Depending on the ingredients or type of dessert you are baking, sometimes you may need to make minor adjustments to compensate for the difference, but you can find some great baking tips on the ZingStevia.com website!
I love that it comes in this 20 oz. Easy-Pour canister, which makes it so simple to measure out the amount I need and then snap the lid closed for easy storage and no fuss. What’s even better is that one 20 oz. container sweetens just like 2.5 lbs. of sugar! There’s only 5 calories and 2 grams of carbohydrates per serving. I knew I was up for a task with pies, but I just couldn’t contain my excitement for the season. I love baking season, I love challenges, I love making people smile. With the low calorie mini pear apple pies I could accomplish all of this. Yay!
Most apple pies call for a mixture of brown and white sugar. I just used the Zing™ Baking Blend along with typical spices and it came out amazing. I loved the flavor and texture of the filling, and it didn’t even have the low calorie taste that some desserts have when you start replacing ingredients. To help keep this a low calorie dessert, I decided to make mini pear apple pie in small ramekins, using a crust only on the top in a rustic lattice pattern. Instead of butter or shortening (or a combination of the two) I discovered a way to make the crust using coconut oil. Since we just need a few strips to cover each ramekin it helped cut down calories and fat, but the texture of the crust is so flaky and tasty you would never know. They end up only being 111 calories per serving, so you even have a little wiggle room to add a small dollop of homemade whipped cream or vanilla frozen yogurt on top!
Filling Ingredients for Mini Pear Apple Pie:
- 1 red pear, peeled, cored and diced
- 1 granny smith apple, peeled, cored and diced
- 1.5 tablespoon Zing™ Baking Blend
- 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Ingredients for Crust:
- 1/2 cup all purpose flour
- dash of salt
- 1/3 cup coconut oil (solid, not melted)
- 3 tablespoons cold water
In a separate mixing bowl add flour and salt together. Spoon in the coconut oil, and combine with a pastry blender. Carefully add water one tablespoon at a time, continuing to use the pastry blender until dough becomes just wet enough to come together. Form into a ball, then place on a floured surface.
Carefully place the pie crust strips on top of the fruit mixture, forming a weave pattern. Lightly sprinkle with Zing Baking Blend and place in lowest position in oven. Bake at 425 degrees for about 8 minutes, then turn oven down to 350 degrees and bake for an additional 22 minutes, until golden.
Do you have a favorite low calorie dessert?
Dish with me in the comments and you will be entered to win a $100 Walmart gift card!
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