Sometimes what you DON’T add to a recipe makes it special

There is almost certain to be a special someone or several in your circle of family and friends who is on the diet-du-jour. Or on a diet for health. With Valentine’s Day and Easter around the corner, you can show you care with an extra effort to offer homemade treats designed just for them.

Here are recipes to please the sugar-watching, or gluten-refusing, or keto-diet-trying people who might love a dessert prepared just for them. And following those recipes, there’s a READER RECIPE for the traditional high-sugar, high fat, highly irresistible confection we all wish we could have all the time.


Fast and easy and no baking needed

1 (9 inch) prepared graham cracker crust

1 (1 oz.) package sugar-free instant vanilla pudding mix

1 C cold milk

1 (8 oz.) can crushed pineapple, drained

1 (8 oz.) container frozen whipped topping, thawed

1 C chopped pecans plus 1/4 C more for garnish

In a medium bowl, whisk together pudding mix and milk. Fold in all but 3 or 4 tablespoons of the pineapple, the whipped topping, and the C of pecans. Pour mixture into the prepared crust. Chill at least 2 hours before serving. Garnish with reserved pineapple and extra pecans. Makes six to eight desserts.


Diabetic-safe, gluten-free, keto-friendly – what’s not to love?

1 C sugar free peanut butter

3/4 C Splenda granular or other granular sweetener

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 C sugar free chocolate chips

1 egg

3 tsp kosher or sea salt 

Preheat oven to 325 and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. In a medium to large bowl, blend together the peanut butter with the sugar alternative. Stir in the baking soda, vanilla extract and the egg. Then fold in the chocolate chips.

Use a scoop or tablespoon to drop the cookie dough onto the prepped baking sheets. Leave room between cookies for them to spread. Dust with the salt. 

Bake for 12-14 minutes or until done. Bake a couple of more minutes for crispier (less chewy) cookies. Makes up to 24 treats.

Note: You can find sugar free peanut butter online. Also, you can use alternatives to peanut butter in this recipe. Almond butter will also work, as will most any other nut butter 


Ready to treat your sweetie in less than 10 minutes

7 oz sugar-free chocolate chips

1/2 C dried cranberries (preferably low-sugar kind)

1/2 C almonds (raw, unsalted)

Preheat oven to 325. Spread the chocolate chips on a parchment-lined baking sheet, placing them as close together as possible in the form of a rectangle. Bake for 1-3 minutes until shiny. Remove from oven.

Using a toothpick or the tip of a butter knife, spread the chips together until smooth. Scatter the cranberries and almonds evenly over the chocolate. Refrigerate or freeze until hardened. To serve, break into pieces and arrange in a box or on a plate. Store in refrigerator. Makes about 12 servings.

Now that you can make your loved-ones low-to-no-sugar, gluten-free, and keto-friendly special desserts, how about splurging on an old-fashioned, sugar-full, delicious and decidedly easy to make plate of fudge? Our READER RECIPE is from Karen Sparks who lives south of Mullica Hill and who promises the candy is so quick and easy to make, you will be surprised at how good it tastes.

“It’s so easy and it’s one of the best fudges I’ve ever tasted,” Sparks said. “But it’s so easy,” she said again.

 Besides the taste, this treat is a breeze to clean up after. Just one pan, one bowl, and 5 ingredients.


From Karen Sparks of Monroeville

3 C chocolate chips, your choice milk or dark chocolate

1 can sweetened condensed milk

3-4 Tbls butter

1tsp vanilla

Pinch salt

Mix first three ingredients together in a glass or microwave-safe bowl and microwave for two minutes on med-high. Check and stir if necessary after a minute or so. Don’t let burn. Line a 9 inch x 9 inch pan with aluminum foil.

Remove blended fudge mix from microwave and add vanilla and salt. Stir well and pour hot fudge into the lined pan. Refrigerate at least two hours then remove and let sit until it attains room temperature, Cut into squares and serve.

Tip: If you like, you can swirl peanut butter or butterscotch chips or other extras, like raisins or jam, into the hot fudge before pouring into the pan and refrigerating.

By Jean Redstone

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