sweet surrender

Make a luscious, low-fat treat with spring'’s first berries.


Sometimes a rich, creamy, soul-satisfying dessert is all you want. And now that you’re pregnant, it’s time to allow yourself a few food indulgences. To satisfy your urge for something sweet without loading up on fat, try this combination of chocolate and strawberries, which serves up the pleasures of homemade pudding and cheesecake without all the fuss. By using low-fat milk and reduced-fat (Neufchâtel) cream cheese, the fat content in this dessert is significantly less than in traditional sweets. With the arrival of spring’s first strawberries, you’ll be tempted to dip them in the pudding while still warm, like a modern-day chocolate-strawberry fondue. Go ahead!

Chocolate-Strawberry Cheesecake Pudding

Serves 4

1/3 cup plus 2 teaspoons sugar

2 tablespoons cornstarch

2 cups low-fat milk

4 ounces (1/2 package) Neufchâtel cheese, cut into chunks (do not use fat-free cream cheese)

2/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

8 strawberries, sliced

Cookies, vanilla wafers, or graham crackers, (optional)

Whisk 1/3 cup sugar and cornstarch in a microwaveable glass mixing bowl. Whisk in the milk until smooth and microwave on high for 5 minutes; whisk again. Microwave an additional 3 or 4 times for 30-second intervals, whisking after each interval, until mixture thickens to the consistency of a thin gravy or sauce.

Place the Neufchâtel cheese and chocolate chips in a separate bowl. Microwave for 45 seconds; then whisk. Microwave an additional 20 to 45 seconds, if necessary, to melt the chocolate completely. Add the chocolate mixture to the milk mixture; add vanilla and whisk until smooth.

Immediately spoon into 4 individual serving cups. If using cookies, slide them halfway into pudding around edges of the serving cup. To prevent a pudding “skin” from forming, press a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the pudding to the edges of the cup. Do not cover cookies.

Refrigerate at least 11/2 hours. About 20 minutes before serving, toss strawberries with remaining 2 teaspoons sugar. Garnish with berries and serve.

Nutritional information per serving (2/3 cup): 312 calories, 35 percent fat (12 grams), 56 percent carbohydrate, 9 percent protein, 201 milligrams calcium, 1.1 milligrams iron, 17 micrograms folate, .8 gram fiber.