A Healthful Dessert?

 Chocolate-Raspberry  Roulade

Photo by Lorelle Del Matto

 What is the ideal dessert?  For the consumer, it looks appetizing, tastes even better and won’t conflict with your healthy-diet goals.  For the cook, the ideal dessert is easy to prep and can be made ahead so there’s no last minute fussing. 

 Raspberry Chocolate Roulade, a chocolate-almond meringue rolled up jelly-roll style with a filling of raspberry sorbet, fits the bill.  It is light and refreshing, perfect for warm weather celebrations, and can be prepared in advance and frozen. While you have to whip egg whites, you don’t have to worry about a soufflé falling as the meringue cake bakes flat in a jelly roll pan (rimmed baking sheet). 

 It is good for you? It’s a luscious dessert without solid fats but some would argue that  no dessert is a good dessert as they all contain sugar which most of us eat too much of.   True.  The Dietary Guidelines 2010 imparts a strong message that we need to reduce our intake of “empty calorie” sugary foods and those rich in “solid fats” in favor of more nutrient-rich sources of calories.    

 Plus, there is the idea that sugar, especially fructose, may have noxious effect beyond making us chubby.  Sugar may play a role in the development of insulin resistance, type II diabetes, heart disease and even cancer.   Gary Taube covers the issue in Is Sugar Toxic? New York Times Magazine, April 18, 2011.

 While we wait for more definitive research in this area, it’s still wise cut back on sugars.  Highly publicized is the notion of eliminating sugared drinks (sodas, energy fruit drinks and sports drinks) which contribute over 45% of added empty-calorie sugar to our diets, per the Dietary Guidelines, 2010.  Desserts (grain-based, dairy and candy) together contribute about 25% of calories so making these special-occasion treats rather than daily indulgences would help. 

 To help each of us cut back  on a daily basis, food labeling laws should require that manufacturers list natural and added sugars, not just total sugar.  For example, the tasty Wallaby vanilla nonfat yogurt in my fridge has a whopping 29 grams of sugar, per cup.  How much is added?  I compared it to a carton of Wallaby plain nonfat yogurt which has only 10 grams of sugar, all of which is naturally occurring.  So that vanilla yogurt has 19 grams of added sugar, equivalent to almost 5 teaspoons of sugar per cup of yogurt.  It also has 60 more calories than the plain version.   

I’d also like to see food manufacturers reduce or eliminate sugar from foods like cereal, salad dressings, pasta sauces and other foods where less or none is needed.  Little changes can add up. 

Getting back to the Raspberry Chocolate Roulade, my goal is to promote reduction in our daily intake of sugars and preserve the tradition of enjoying a homemade dessert shared with friends and family on a special occasion. 


Chocolate-Raspberry Roulade

4 large egg whites, at room temperature

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

1 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup unsweetened natural cocoa powder

3/4 cup whole almonds, toasted and chopped

1 pint fat-free raspberry sorbet


2 cups fresh raspberries

10 tablespoons dark chocolate syrup (such as Hershey’s Special Dark)

10 sprigs fresh mint

Adjust oven rack to center of oven.  Preheat oven to 400ºF.  Line 15-x-10-x-1-inch baking pan with wax paper extending 2 inches over short ends of pan.  Coat paper with nonstick spray. Put egg whites and cream of tartar in grease-free medium mixing bowl.  Beat with electric mixer on medium speed until soft peaks form.  Gradually beat in sugar; increase speed to high and beat until stiff peaks form.  Beat in vanilla.  Stir together cocoa powder and nuts.  With spatula, gently fold in half of cocoa mixture; then fold in remaining cocoa mixture. Spread meringue evenly in prepared pan. Bake 8 minutes.  Reduce oven temperature to 325˚ and continue baking until firm on top but soft inside, about 6 to 8 minutes. Invert meringue onto large cutting board covered with a 15-x-10-inch piece of wax paper.  Peel off top piece of waxed paper.  Cool.  Spread sorbet on meringue.  (See tip below.) Starting at 1 long side, carefully roll up meringue, jelly-roll style.  Wrap in plastic wrap and freeze 2 hours or until serving time.   To serve, place roulade on platter. To serve, drizzle syrup on 10 small plates. Cut roulade crosswise into 10 slices.  Place one slice on each plate and sprinkle with raspberries.  Makes 10 servings. 

Tip for Spreading Sorbet: Remove frozen sorbet from carton and place on cutting board; cut crosswise into 1/3-inch slices. Place slices on meringue and spread with knife or back of spoon to even layer.

Copyright © Lorelle S Del Matto 2011

lorelle About lorelle

Crazy about cooking, eating and sharing good food – my work and leisure revolve around the kitchen. As a culinary dietitian my professional life encompasses nutrition counseling and education, recipe development, product development, food and nutrition writing, marketing communications, corporate test kitchen and consumer affairs management, food styling and work as a product spokesperson.

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