Better Homes and Gardens, Cooking Light Magazine Offer Two Cracks on Coconut Cake

betterhomes.jpgWhen Better Homes and Gardens magazine made a fresh coconut cake the centerpiece of its April 2010 cover, it was in some ways to be expected. Not only because of the Easter season, but perhaps even more so due to its perception of being traditional and more conservative than its food publication peers.

When Cooking Light magazine prominently featured a fresh coconut cake on its April 2010 cover, some of its readers were likely surprised. With the cover headline “Yes! This is healthy” and an arrow pointing to the popular spring dessert, the health-conscious magazine seemed to expect the reaction.

This and other decadent dishes have made Cooking Light readers question the general editorial direction of their nutritional playbook, along with the articles that seem to justify why it’s OK to indulge.

That debate aside, how different are the two recipes? Is one significantly healthier or better for you than the other?

In comparison, the ingredients are evenly matched, though the
amounts used may vary slightly. But Cooking Light magazine’s version
makes a couple of noticeable substitutions. Butter instead of
shortening, Italian meringue instead of heavy cream, and coconut
shavings pressed into the frosting instead of icing filled with the
shredded fruit.

Featured in its “Recipe Makeover” section, Cooking Light compares
its “new” coconut cake to an “old” version described only in terms of
calories, total fat grams, saturated fat grams and the aforementioned
heavier ingredients that were substituted.

While Cooking Light magazine’s rendition of fresh coconut cake has
significantly reduced calories, total fat grams and saturated fat
grams, it would be worth an apples to apples comparison of the “old
way” recipe to Better Homes and Gardens’.

Despite the two coconut cake’s similarities, Better Homes and
Gardens doesn’t call for shortening or heavy cream–two ingredients
where Cooking Light magazine opted for lighter substitutions.

In the end, one slice of Cooking Light magazine’s coconut cake has
fewer calories (332 vs. 482) and carbohydrates (55.8 grams vs. 74
grams), and less fat (10.8 grams vs. 19 grams) and cholesterol (20
milligrams vs. 98 milligrams) than a serving of Better Homes and
Gardens’ version.

But the old version of the coconut cake that Cooking Light made over
had 622 calories per slice and 38.5 total fat grams. And though the
magazine’s new version is impressive for its reduction of calories and
fat, does it have more of a wow factor because it was put up against an
obviously very rich fresh coconut cake recipe? Would cutting the fat
grams in half seem as impressive as cutting them by three-fourths?

While that’s another debate, each magazine presented its recipe
differently while keeping with the magazine’s general tone. Cooking
Light gave very straightforward directions and a basic how-to on
cracking coconuts with minimal photos. In its very practical approach,
Better Homes and Gardens wove hints and tips in its directions, along
with step-by-step photos from start to finish.

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Michelle Ryan

About Michelle Ryan

Michelle Ryan is obsessed with good food, great shoes and Alabama football way down South in Savannah, Georgia. She hasn’t met a kitchen gadget she hasn’t at least thought about buying (trying them is another story) and devotes her time to Bikram Yoga, baking and trying to overcome long-held finicky eating habits.