My Recipe Box

Desserts with a Secret

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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.


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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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