Healthier dessert recipes to make for Shavuot

    chocolate cheesecake muffins
    Photo: Jenny Lieberman

    When you think of Shavuot, the first word that likely comes to mind is “dairy.” The typical Shavuot dessert is usually laden with cream and cheese to create a mouth-watering tiramisu or a stellar cheesecake. While there is certainly nothing wrong with having some of those delectable desserts on Shavuot, a holiday full of these sweets might leave you feeling a little bleh. To lighten things up, quite literally, try pairing your favorite, classic Shavuot dessert with one of these healthier desserts. Better yet, make all three of them!

    The first two recipes are healthier takes on traditional desserts, using better-for-you ingredients like spelt flour, avocado oil, and silan. Don’t have spelt flour? Use whole wheat, regular flour, or a mixture of both. No avocado oil? Try another neutral-tasting oil like grapeseed or light olive oil (not extra virgin olive oil). Running low on silan? Substitute it with molasses or maple syrup. By making these slightly healthier adjustments, you can feel good having your cake and eating it, too!

    1. Chocolate chip cheesecake-filled muffins

    chocolate cheesecake muffins
    Photo: Jenny Lieberman

    Chocolate cake and cheesecake, two desserts that are great on their own. Combining the two will lead to a delicious dessert that you can’t resist! The cheesecake filling in the center of these muffins is the perfect amount to satisfy that cheesecake craving without feeling too heavy. Both the cheesecake and chocolate part of these muffins are slightly lighter than your traditional chocolate cheesecake muffins, allowing you to eat two of these muffins if you so desire. Yields: 12 muffins.

    Ingredients:

    • 2 tbsp melted dark chocolate chips
    • ⅓ cup plus 1 tbsp cream cheese 
    • ¾ cup plus 2 tbsp avocado oil (or any neutral-tasting oil)
    • 2 eggs
    • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
    • 2/3 cup spelt flour* 
    • 1/2 cup coconut sugar
    • ⅓ cup plus 1 tbsp cocoa powder
    • 1 tsp baking soda
    • 1 tsp baking powder
    • 1/2 tsp ground coffee (optional)
    • 1/4 tsp salt 
    • ¼ cup dark chocolate chips 

    Cream cheese filling: 

    • 1 egg yolk
    • ⅓ cup cream cheese
    • 2 tbsp coconut sugar

    *Whole wheat or regular flour can also be used in place of spelt flour

    Directions:

    1. Preheat your oven to 350F and grease a muffin pan. 
    2. In a microwave-safe bowl, melt 2 tbsp dark chocolate chips. Start with 30-second intervals in the microwave and mix after the first 30 seconds. Return to the microwave for another 30 seconds and stir. At this point the chocolate should be fully melted, if not, return to the microwave for another 15 seconds and stir until completely melted. 
    3. In a large bowl, mix together the cream cheese, avocado oil, eggs, and vanilla extract until smooth. (If you have any remaining lumps from the cream cheese continue mixing until the batter is smooth.) Add in the melted chocolate and mix until the batter is smooth. 
    4. In a separate bowl, whisk together the spelt flour, coconut sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, ground coffee (this ingredient is optional, but I love adding it to chocolate baked goods, as I find it heightens the chocolate flavor), and salt. Slowly add in the dry ingredients to the wet mixture and stir until the flour is just combined and no more flour bits remain. Make sure not to overmix your batter, as an overmixed batter tends to lead to a firmer outcome. The consistency should be similar to a thick brownie batter consistency. Add in the dark chocolate chips and gently fold into the batter.
    5. For the cheesecake filling, simply add the egg yolk, cream cheese, and coconut sugar to a separate bowl. Whisk the ingredients together and get rid of any lumps from the cream cheese. You should end up with a consistency somewhere between a cake batter and a heavy cream consistency; not too thick and not too thin. 
    6. Now it’s time for the assembly. Using a normal-sized spoon to measure your batter, add one spoonful of the chocolate batter to each muffin cup, reserving the other half for the top layer. Next, take a small spoonful of the cheesecake filling and add it to the center of each muffin cup. Using a normal-sized spoon, add a spoonful of batter to each muffin cup by placing it around the cheesecake filling. The key here is to try to avoid covering the cheesecake filling with the chocolate batter. Bake at 350F for 13 to 16 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Store in the fridge for 3 to 5 days.

    2. Lemon cake

    lemon cake
    Photo: Jenny Lieberman

    Lemon cakes are a newfound love of mine. The lemon flavor makes the entire cake feel super fresh and bright. Both the lemon cake and glaze impart their own lemon flavor, leaving you with a fresh and slightly tangy dessert. Note: the lemon glaze is thin and more of a lemon sauce, so if it seems pretty liquidy, you’re doing it right!

    Modified from shelovesbiscotti.com

    Ingredients:

    • 1 1/2 cups spelt flour*
    • 3/4 cup coconut sugar
    • 2 eggs
    • 1/4 cup avocado oil (or any neutral-tasting oil)
    • 1/2-3/4 cup unflavored, low-fat yogurt 
    • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (from 2 large lemons)
    • 1 tbsp lemon zest 
    • 1/4 tsp salt 
    • 1 tsp baking powder 
    • 1/2 tsp baking soda 

    Lemon glaze:

    • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (from 1 lemon)
    • ½ tbsp lemon zest
    • 3 tbsp coconut sugar 

    *Whole wheat or regular flour can also be used in place of spelt flour

    Directions:

    1. Preheat your oven to 350℉ and grease a 9 x 5 inch pan. 
    2. In a large bowl, whisk together the yogurt, lemon juice, zest, and coconut sugar until everything is combined. Add in the avocado oil and eggs and mix again until everything is well combined.
    3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the spelt flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. 
    4. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet. Start with adding half of the dry ingredients to the wet and mix until almost combined. Add in the remaining half of the dry ingredients and mix until just combined and no more flour bits remain. As noted in the previous recipe, make sure not to overmix your batter, as an overmixed batter tends to lead to a firmer cake. Add the batter to the greased pan. 
    5. Bake for 45-55 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. 
    6. While the cake is baking, let’s make our lemon glaze. Simply whisk together the lemon juice, lemon zest, and coconut sugar. The consistency will be very thin and similar to a sauce, not a glaze. That’s how it should be!
    7. Once the cake is done baking, allow it to cool completely (about 1-2 hours). Once cooled completely, pour the lemon glaze all over the cake. Eat within 2-5 days of baking the lemon cake. 

    3. Banana nice cream

    banana ice cream
    Photo: Jenny Lieberman

    Banana ice cream, or nice cream as some call it, has been all the rage in the health world for the past few years, and for good reason. It’s a lighter version of a traditional dairy-filled ice cream, allowing you to enjoy this beloved sweet treat without the guilt trip. 

    With Shavuot coinciding with warmer weather, you can beat the heat with this creamy and delicious snack. 

    Ingredients: 

    • 3 bananas, sliced into ¼ inch coin shapes  
    • 1 additional frozen banana
    • 2 tbsp water (add more if needed)
    • 2 tbsp silan (molasses, maple syrup or any liquid sweetener of choice works too)
    • ½ tbsp coconut oil 
    • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
    • ½ tsp cinnamon
    • Sprinkle of nutmeg
    • 1/3 cup plus 1 tbsp coconut cream (from a can) 
    • 3 tbsp melted dark chocolate 

    Directions:

    1. Add the coconut oil to a stovetop pan on medium heat. Once the pan is hot, add in your banana coins, water, 1 tbsp silan, ½ tbsp vanilla extract, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Mix to coat all of the banana slices. Try to arrange the banana slices into as much of a single layer as you can, trying to avoid the slices from being on top of each other. Cook for around 3 minutes on each side, allowing the bananas and the liquid they are cooking in to develop some color. Remove the banana mixture from the pan and let it cool for around 30 minutes. Place in the freezer for at least one hour.
    2. To a blender, add the cooked and frozen banana mixture, 1 additional frozen banana, 1 tbsp silan, ½ tbsp vanilla extract, and coconut cream. Blend until thick and smooth. Add the banana ice cream to an ice cream container or a loaf pan. Using a spoon, add in small circles of the melted chocolate to the ice cream mixture. Mix to combine. The chocolate should start to harden soon after hitting the ice cream mixture, so try to work quickly! Freeze for at least four hours to harden.

    Adding these fresh dessert recipes to your repertoire is a surefire way to elevate your Shavuot menu. At the end of your meal, you’ll be happy to have these better-for-you desserts on hand!

    Jenny Lieberman
    Jenny Lieberman is a recipe developer, certified group fitness instructor, and recent high school graduate from Boca Raton, FL. She loves all things health and wellness, so you will probably find her looking up the newest food and fitness trends. She is currently on a gap year program at Midreshet Torah v’Avodah (MTVA) in Jerusalem, Israel. Jenny will be attending the University of Maryland, College Park, starting Fall 2021. You can follow Jenny on her Instagram healthy food account (@toomuchonmyplate_) to see more of her recipes!