'Strawberry & Mascarpone Filled Vanilla Cupcakes

1 box vanilla cake mix (like Duncan Hines Moist Deluxe French Vanilla cake)
1 (8-ounce) container mascarpone cheese, chilled
1/2 cup thawed and drained frozen strawberries
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1. Prepare the cupcakes according to the package’s directions. Lightly grease a muffin tin, and fill the batter ¾ full in each muffin cup. Bake according to package directions, and let the cupcakes cool.

2. In a food processor, combine the mascarpone cheese, strawberries, ¼ cup sugar, and lemon juice. Process until smooth. Refrigerate this filling mixture for 1-2 hours, it will NOT taste right at room temp. After it is cool, transfer the mixture to a pastry bag, fitted with a small tip. From the top, push the tip of the pastry bag halfway into the cupcake and fill until the cupcake “plumps”.

3. Keep the cupcakes refrigerated, and serve chilled. Remember, there’s cheese in them, and they will spoil if left out!

**Tips for this recipe**
  • These cupcakes are quite sweet with just the filling, but you can also add a simple pre-made buttercream frosting or a chocolate frosting if you choose!
  • Mascarpone cheese can generally be found in the “fresh cheeses” section of the deli department in your local supermarket. It’s usually in the same area of brie, fresh parmesan, etc.

Nestle Tollhouse Original Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

This recipe has been slightly modified, as the original recipe would cause the cookies to completely flatten!

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 sticks butter (REAL butter)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 cups (more or less to taste) Nestle Tollhouse Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips

1. Preheat oven to 375° F.

2. Combine flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in chocolate chips. 
3. Using a teaspoon, scoop a small amount on the spoon, and roll each scoop of dough into a ball and place onto ungreased nonstick baking sheets. 
4. Bake for 9-11 minutes, and let cool for 2 minutes. Then transfer to a wire cooling rack to cool.

*Recipe courtesy of Nestle*
Chocolate & Cranberry Biscotti

Makes about 1 1/2 dozen
Calories per biscotti: 76

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup finely ground almonds
3 tablespoons Dutch-process cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/3 cup dried cranberries
Melted chocolate for drizzling
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and arrange a rack in the center of the oven. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. Whisk together flour, ground almonds, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl.

3. Beat egg and sugar with a handheld or standing mixer on medium-high speed until pale and thick, about 5 minutes. Beat in vanilla and almond extracts. Reduce speed to low, and gradually add flour mixture. Beat until no traces of flour remain. Stir in cranberries. The dough will be very wet and sticky.

4. Scrape the dough onto the prepared baking sheet, forming a thick line in the center. Wet your hands and pat dough into a 9-x-3-inch rectangle. Bake until puffed and dry to the touch, about 25 minutes. Cool on pan for 15 minutes; keep oven on. Peel off parchment and carefully transfer rectangle to a cutting board. Cut crosswise into 1/3-inch-thick slices.

5. Lay slices flat on unlined baking sheet, and bake until dry, about 10 minutes. Flip slices and bake for 10 minutes more. Let cool completely. Cookies will crisp as they cool.

6. Drizzle with melted chocolate if desired.

**Tips for this recipe**

Deep Dark Chocolate Cake

Serves 10
Calories per serving: 222

For the cake
Cooking spray
1 1/2 cup self-rising flour
1/4 cup finely ground almonds
5 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 ounces beets, peeled and finely grated
4 ounces low-fat buttermilk
2 tablespoons strong black coffee
3 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar

For the icing
1/2 cup dark chocolate, cut into small pieces

2 tablespoons strong black coffee
2 tablespoons honey

For the top (optional)
Organic, unsprayed rose petals

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. Lightly spray an 8-inch springform baking pan with cooking spray.

3. In a small bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, ground almonds, salt and baking soda, and set aside.

4. Using a standing or handheld mixer set at medium speed, beat the eggs and sugar for 4 full minutes until pale and fluffy. On low speed, beat in the grated beets, followed by dry ingredients. Add the buttermilk and coffee, and beat until the batter is smooth.

5. Pour into the pan and place in the middle of a hot oven and bake for 30 minutes. Test with a toothpick inserted for doneness; it should come out clean. Bake for an additional 5 minutes if needed.

6. Cool for 10 minutes or so in the pan and unmold onto cooling rack. Cool on a wire rack until cold. 7. To make the icing, prepare a double boiler.

8. Combine all the ingredients and gently stir until the chocolate is smooth. Stir occasionally until the mixture thickens.

9. With the cake still on the wire rack, pour the icing liberally over the top of the cake and let it drip down the sides. Transfer onto a plate or cake stand for serving and garnish with rose petals.

**Tips for this recipe**
  • I've made this recipe previously making cupcakes instead of cake. They are DELICIOUS! The beets give it a lot of moisture without tasting the vegetable.

Peanut Butter Dream Bars
 Serves 8
Calories per serving: 157

1/2 cup low-calorie thin chocolate wafers, finely ground in a food processor
1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/4 cup creamy reduced-fat peanut butter
1 1/2 ounces reduced-fat cream cheese, room temperature
2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons semisweet chocolate chips, melted

1. Line a 9-x-4-inch loaf pan with wax paper or baking parchment, leaving a 2-inch overhang on the long sides.

2. Combine the ground wafers, oats, sugar and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a medium bowl. Stir in the butter until everything is evenly moistened. Stir in 1 tablespoon peanut butter until mixture forms large clumps. Transfer mixture to lined loaf pan and press into an even layer. Refrigerate until firm, about 10 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, beat cream cheese with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add vanilla, remaining 3 tablespoons peanut butter and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, and beat on medium speed until pale and nearly doubled in volume, about 7 minutes. Transfer to the loaf pan and spread in an even layer over cookie crust. Freeze until firm, about 10 minutes.

4. Spread the chocolate in a thin, even layer over the chilled peanut butter layer. Refrigerate until firm, about 10 minutes. When ready to serve, lift bars out of the pan using the wax paper overhang. Cut crosswise into 8 bars and serve cold. 
**Tips for this recipe**
  • You can usually find the chocolate wafers in the "100 Calorie Snack" boxes

 Vanilla Cupcakes

Makes 12 cupcakes
Calories per serving: 204

For the frosting
3 large egg whites
1 cup powdered sugar
Pinch salt
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
Finely grated zest of 1/2 lemon

For the cupcakes
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup finely ground almonds
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups peeled zucchini, finely grated

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. To make the frosting: Combine the egg whites, sugar, salt and vanilla extract in a heatproof bowl set over (not in) a pan of simmering water. Stir continuously over heat until the mixture is warm and the sugar is completely dissolved, 1 to 2 minutes.

3. Remove the bowl from the heat. Using a handheld electric or standing mixer set on high, beat until the mixture is entirely cooled, glossy and stiff, about 7 minutes. Blend in the lemon zest until smooth — once smooth, take care not to overbeat or the mixture will get lumpy. Let frosting set and cool in the refrigerator (at least 30 minutes), while making the cupcakes.

4. To make the cupcakes: Arrange a rack in the center of the oven. Line a 12-muffin pan with cupcake liners.

5. In a bowl, whisk together the flour, almonds and baking powder; set aside. In another bowl, beat the eggs, sugar, salt and vanilla with a handheld or standing mixer until thick and light-colored, about 4 minutes. Beat in the zucchini on low speed until fully incorporated.

6. Add the dry ingredients and beat on low speed until fully incorporated, scraping down the bowl once with a spatula during beating. Use a 1/3-cup measure to spoon into the muffin cups.

7. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 20 to 25 minutes, turning the pan midway through baking. Transfer cupcakes out onto a wire rack and cool completely before icing with the chilled frosting.

**Tips for this recipe**
  • Don't skip the zucchini!! It replaces the butter, and you won't even know there's a veggie in the cupcakes.  

Cookies & Cream Milkshake

Serves 4
Calories per serving: 169

1 pint low-fat chocolate ice cream, slightly softened
2 packages low-calorie chocolate wafers (about 30 total)
1/3 cup low-fat (1-percent) milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

In a blender, place the ice cream, chocolate wafers and 1-percent milk. Add the pure vanilla extract and blend until most of the wafers are broken, leaving a few larger chunks. Pour into 4 glasses and enjoy.

**Tips for this recipe**