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Desserts with a Secret

Don’t tell—it’s the vegetables that make these desserts insanely good
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OK, so maybe the ingredients here aren’t so much secrets as they are surprises. Squash stands in for pumpkin in a classic Thanksgiving pie, chocolate and zucchini pair up in a nutty quick bread, and a truly unexpected ingredient puts one chocolate cake in the running for the best you’ve ever had.

  • Recipe

    Sweet Potato Spice Cake

    This cake, topped with a tasty pecan streusel, is incredibly moist, thanks to the sweet potato, and the fresh ginger adds a vibrancy that other spice cakes can only dream of.
  • Recipe

    Chocolate-Nut Zucchini Bread

    Chocolate and zucchini, together? You bet. When you’ve got more zucchini than you know what to do with, turn it into this sweet, tender quick bread.
  • Recipe

    Carrot Layer Cake with Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting

    There’s no hiding the vegetables in this classic cake; it’s chock full of finely grated carrots, and since the cake’s flavor only improves with time, it’s the perfect make-ahead dessert.
  • Recipe

    Baked Plantains with Brown Sugar & Rum

    More similar to a vegetable than a fruit, plantains are often fried into chips or cubed and added to stews. In this Cuban dessert, fully ripe plantains at their sweetest are baked until golden brown and tender.
  • Recipe

    Sweet Potato Pie

    Because of its similar texture, sweet potato is a natural stand-in for pumpkin in this spin on the traditional Thanksgiving pie.
  • Recipe

    Brown Butter Pumpkin Layer Cake

    Sure, we’ve all had pumpkin pie, but the fresh pumpkin incorporated in this stunning layer cake make it moist, flavorful, and a 5-star must-make holiday favorite among FC readers.
  • Recipe

    Buttermilk Cake with Spiced Vanilla Icing

    The "secret ingredient" in this moist, tender cake is grated butternut squash, which is folded into the batter just before baking.
  • Recipe

    Chocolate-Beet Layer Cake

    You can’t taste the roasted beets in this recipe—there’s no earthy, beety flavor—but they make the cake moist, dense, and rich. Without them, this dessert would be nowhere near as delicious.
  • Recipe

    Parsnip Buttermilk Pie

    This may look like pumpkin pie, but it tastes nothing like it—it’s sweet and tangy, with a delicate mousse-like texture.
  • Recipe

    Red Grape, Polenta & Olive Oil Cake

    You’ve probably had polenta served as a side, paired with saucy main courses like beef stew, short ribs, or chicken fricassée. Here, it adds flavor and texture to a fragrant grape-studded cake.
  • Recipe

    Brown Sugar Squash Pie

    Squash purée combines with brown sugar, cream, and warm spices in a rich custard that’ll win over even die-hard pumpkin pie fans.
  • Recipe

    Spiced Carrot Cakes with Candied Carrots & Pistachios

    You won’t find any carrots in this innovative twist on a classic; a sweet carrot juice reduction flavors these tempting little cakes.
  • Recipe

    Sweet Potato Cupcakes with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

    Sweet potatoes lend moisture and complexity to these tender, lightly spiced cupcakes. A tangy maple-syrup-infused frosting serves as both the topping and filling.
  • Recipe

    Sweet Corn Cake with Blueberry-Lavender Compote

    Here's another use for all that fresh summer corn. A lavender-scented topping lends an elegant touch to this rustic cake. To cook the corn, boil it in lightly salted water until tender—3 to 5 minutes, depending on how fresh the corn is. You can skip sifting the cornmeal if you’d like a coarser texture in the cake.

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