10 Luscious Desserts With Hidden Vegetables

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1. Chocolate beet cake

credit: balise42

Vitamin-packed eggplant, beans, beets, and zucchini covertly tucked into delicious desserts? Here come the stealth vegetables. In place of empty calories these 10 desserts deliver vitamins, antioxidants and fiber in a tasty package that can provide more vegetables for your diet.

This is one of the best recipes ever. Really. (Although that's coming from a varsity beet cheerleader, so it may be relative.) Beets add a deep rich color and ever-so-slightly earthy flavor to desserts, and when combined with sweet dark chocolate and baked, the synergy is surprising and very happy-making. Read more about beets and find the recipe for Chocolate Beet Cake.

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2. White Bean Blondies

credit: Telephone Melts

Red bean paste is a staple in Japanese sweets. Pureed beans add moisture and structure to cookies and bars, they replace much of the butter and flour, and when accompanied by sweet components (rather than onions and jalapeños) their mild flavor fades away and lets the other ingredients sing. This recipe for White Bean Blondies uses a cup and a half of beans and 3/4 cup of oat bran resulting in a treat that is as nutritious as it is delicious.

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3. Black Bean Brownies

credit: Jaymi Heimbuch

Jerry's gluten-free recipe for souffle-like black bean brownies relies on similar principals as the white bean blondies, but this one is bumped up a notch with the addition of raspberry sauce. Make them like this: Cocoa and Black Bean Brownies with Raspberry Sauce.

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4. Chocolate Avocado Mousse

credit: llsimon53

Many healthier versions of chocolate mousse call for tofu, but this one depends on avocados and is a member of the 10 Deliciously Radical Avocado Recipes club. Although technically avocado is a fruit not a vegetable, its use in primarily savory dishes often imparts vegetable status. Be warned, this dish is not lacking in fat, but avocado fat is so supremely healthier for the body than dairy fat, so, there's that.

  • 4 ripe avocados
  • 1 cup agave nectar
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Remove flesh from avocados and and cut into pieces, place all ingredients in a stand mixer (or food processor) and blend until light and smooth. Chill, top with Greek yogurt or vegan topping, and enjoy.

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5. Sweet Potato Cheesecake

credit: tomatoes and friends

Sweet potato cheesecake is like the sultry southern cousin of pumpkin cheesecake. Both are a creamy orange in color and take well to warm spices like cinnamon and nutmeg. Pumpkin and sweet potatoes are in fact often interchangeable, but as much as I am utterly nuts about pumpkin, sweet potatoes have denser flesh and ultimately more concentrated flavor. Which makes them the perfect candidate for cheesecake! For crust:

  • 1 1/2 cups all-natural gingersnap or graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped pecans
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh minced ginger
  • 3 tablespoons melted butter

For filling:

  • 9 ounces organic cream cheese, softened
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup date sugar (Sucanat or brown sugar may be used)
  • 1 3/4 cups sweet potatoes, mashed
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup organic low fat buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

For topping:

  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon butter or coconut oil
  • 1 cup pecans, roughly chopped

1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. 2. In a medium bowl mix gingersnap crumbs, pecans, ginger and butter until combined. Press mixture with your fingers into the bottom and 1 inch up the side of a 9-inch springform pan. Bake for 6 minutes or until set—do not let it brown. Remove and let cool. 3. In a mixing bowl use a fork to mash together butter and sugar for topping until crumbled, then stir in the pecans until lightly incorporated. Set aside until ready to use. 4. Beat cream cheese until smooth and add maple syrup and date sugar. Add remaining filling ingredients and beat well until combined. Pour into crust and bake for 30 minutes, then add topping and bake for another 25 minutes, or until set. 5. Cool on a rack. Remove springform ring and chill at least several hours, or overnight.

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6. Eggplant Tarte Tatin with Black Pepper Caramel

credit: Margaret Badore

This recipe from Gourmet takes the classic French upside-down tart and turns it on its head by using eggplant rather than traditional apples. Eggplant is slightly bitter, but when combined with sugar and then caramelized, its the texture and subtle sweetness that shine. And if you have a hard time getting your mind around the idea, think of it this way: Eggplant is classified botanically as a fruit. So really, this is just another fruit tart. Find the recipe for Eggplant Tarte Tatin with Black Pepper Caramel.

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7. Butternut Squash Pudding

credit: melloveschallah

Pumpkin pie is a no-brainer, but I sometimes find butternut squash to be a happier stand-in for pumpkin. Although there are varieties of pumpkin that are fabulous for baking and cooking (sugar and cheese pumpkins, for example) they are not as easy to come by as butternut squash. And the ubiquitous regular carving pumpkins are not nearly as sweet or buttery-textured as butternut squash is. This is a baked pudding, but you can scoop it out of the pan and serve it in a cup as well.

  • 4 cups pureed butternut squash
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar (or Sucanat)
  • 12 ounces evaporated milk
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 fresh nutmeg, grated
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 tablespoon minced candied ginger (optional)
  • 1/4 cup candied pepitas (optional)

1. Mix squash, brown sugar, evaporated milk, eggs, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and salt. 2. Pour into a lightly oiled 8-by-8 glass baking dish. 3. Bake at 325 degrees for 60 minutes. Remove, cool and serve with whipped cream, greek yogurt, or a mix of candied ginger and pepitas.

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8. Mocha Almond Fudge Avocado Cake

credit: Vegan Feast Catering

Beloved Flickr photographer and vegan chef-baker extraordinaire, Vegan Feast Catering, is the force behind this vegan cake that involves a tangle of avocado, agave, cocoa, and almonds which is then layered with a sweet avocado buttercream. Find heaven here: Mocha Almond Fudge Avocado Cake.

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9. Zucchini Chocolate Chip Cookies

credit: HeatherHeatherHeather

When life gives you excessive zucchinis, make cookies. Or something like that. It's inevitable that if you've planted zucchini in your garden, the exuberant blimp-sized squash will begin to take over and it's probable that you will run out of ways to eat it. Or if you just want to take advantage of the bounty befalling the farmers markets, here is a recipe inspired by the awesome book Animal, Vegetable, Mineral by Barbara Kingsolver. Stir together well in a bowl:

  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup Sucanat (or brown sugar)
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • Combine in large bowl:
    1 cup white flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • Combine in a separate, small bowl and add to egg mixture:
    1 cup finely shredded zucchini
  • 12 oz chocolate chips

Mix all ingredients together well. Drop by spoonful onto lightly oiled baking sheet, and flatten with the back of a spoon. Bake at 350F degrees for 10 to 15 minutes or until golden.

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10. Chocolate Carrot Cake

credit: kathryn in stereo

A vegetable dessert collection wouldn't be complete without carrot cake, but you can get a carrot cake recipe anywhere, so here's one that's made a bit more decadent with chocolate and a healthier ersatz cream cheese frosting.

  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups vegetable oil
  • 1 cup sugar (or Sucanat)
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 3 cups grated carrots
  • 1/2 chocolate chips
  • li>cup chopped pecans
  • 12 ounces cream cheese
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and lightly oil and flour a 9-by-13 inch pan. 2. With a mixer beat together eggs, oil, sugar and vanilla. Fold in flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon, then fold in carrots, chocolate chips and pecans. Pour into pan. 3. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then remove cake and let cook completely on a wire rack. Whip cream cheese and maple syrup together and frost cake. Serve.