Frozen grasshopper pie
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Frozen grasshopper pie

Decadent desserts get even better

Family Features

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Each decade has its own distinct foods, including desserts. Yet some of these decadent treats – such as Southern lemon chess pie from the 1820s, strawberry shortcake from the 1850s or New York’s black and white cookies from the Roaring 1920s – have stood the test of time.

To celebrate these nostalgic sweets, CanolaInfo, an industry group representing canola oil producers, offers its “Decades of Decadence” recipe collection. Prepared by Ellie Krieger, a registered dietitian and host of the Cooking Channel’s “Healthy Appetite,” the collection offers a memory lane trip with modern influences.

“History shaped these desserts and they have stuck around because they are inherently delicious,” Krieger said. “They were driven by the availability of ingredients in their day, advertising by food companies in women’s magazines and advancements in food technology or appliances.”

To boost nutrition and keep saturated fat in check, the recipes are updated with heart healthy ingredients, such as low-fat yogurt, whole-grain flour and canola oil.

One example is a healthy update of the 1930s pineapple upside down cake, originally invented to take advantage of canned pineapple, which is kept moist and gooey with canola oil. Also available is the 1940s chocolate war cake, a chocolaty indulgence, and the ’50s-style frozen grass­hopper pie, a favorite once home freezers became common.

To see the “Decades of Decadence” collection and more recipes from Krieger, go to



Pineapple Upside Down Cake

Canola oil cooking spray

1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar

4 to 5 pineapple rings

2 tablespoon chopped crystallized ginger

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup whole-wheat all-purpose flour

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup low-fat buttermilk

1/2 cup canola oil

2 large eggs

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Generously spray bottom of 9-inch, nonstick layer cake pan with canola oil cooking spray. Sprinkle evenly with brown sugar, then arrange pineapple rings on top in one layer. Sprinkle chopped ginger pieces in spaces around pine­apple rings and in their centers.

In medium bowl, whisk together flours, sugar, baking powder and baking soda. In another medium bowl, whisk together butter­milk, canola oil, eggs and vanilla.

Mix wet and dry ingre­dients until combined. Pour batter over pineapple-brown sugar mixture and bake until top is lightly browned and wooden skewer inserted into center of cake comes out clean, 40 to 50 minutes. Let cool for 5 min­utes, then run knife around cake edges and, using oven mitts, invert cake onto large serving plate.

Yields 8 servings.



Frozen Grasshopper Pie

Canola oil cooking spray

1 1/4 cups finely crushed chocolate wafer cookies or chocolate graham cracker crumbs

3 tablespoons canola oil

4 cups mint chip reduced-fat ice cream or frozen yogurt, softened (see cook’s notes)

1/3 cup chocolate shavings (see cook’s notes)

Cook’s notes: An ice cream or frozen yogurt without green food coloring is best. To make chocolate shavings, use a vegetable peeler to peel strips from a thick block of chocolate.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 9-inch pie dish with canola oil cooking spray.

In medium bowl, mix cookie crumbs and canola oil until combined, then press mixture into pre­pared pie dish. Bake until fragrant, 6 to 8 minutes. Allow to cool completely.

In large bowl, place softened ice cream and mix well until uniform tex­ture forms, similar to soft-serve ice cream. Fill cooled pie crust with ice cream, smoothing out top. Garnish with chocolate shavings, cover with plastic wrap and put back in freezer until solidly frozen, at least 4 hours.

When ready to serve, heat knife under hot water and use it to cut pie into slices.

Yields 8 servings.



Chocolate War Cake

3/4 cup whole-wheat pastry flour (see cook’s note)

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup granulated sugar

1/3 cup natural cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup cold water

1 tablespoon cider vinegar

1/3 cup canola oil

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon confectioners’ sugar

Cook’s note: Whole-wheat, all-purpose flour can be used for whole-wheat pastry flour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In 9-inch round baking pan, whisk together whole-wheat pastry flour, all-purpose flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt.

In small bowl or measuring cup, com­bine water and vinegar.

Make well in center of flour mixture in pan and pour canola oil and vanilla extract into well. Pour water-vinegar mixture over top of flour and then stir well to blend all ingredients.

Bake until set and toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, about 30 to 35 minutes. Place cake on rack to cool in pan. Once cool, sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar.

Yields 12 servings.