I bake with vegetables, and I know I'm not alone. I assume that pumpkin pie and carrot cake have graced every table in the United States at one time or another, but I'm here to tell you that there is more to vegetable desserts than just a couple of carrots. There is a whole array of veggie-aisle treats worth exploring.
When I wrote my book, The New Sugar and Spice, I set out to find a way to enjoy a broader spectrum of flavors in my sweets. I was tired of overly sweet, one-note desserts. I hoped that by increasing the spice while decreasing the sugar a bit, I could create a new balance and in turn something more delicious and special. My goal was to not necessarily make desserts healthier, but to make them more interesting and more worth the indulgence. I think of adding vegetables to my desserts in the same way.
Embracing Veggies at Every Meal
By adding a bit of sweet potato purée to a batch of cinnamon buns, for example, I hope to do a few things. First of all, the purée makes the dough ultra-tender and moist. Secondly, it adds a subtle, earthy sweetness, which beats plain white flour dough any day. And as an added bonus, when I bake with roasted vegetables, I find that it's easier to give them a place at the dinner table too. It's about making your desserts more interesting and adding even more vegetables to your weekly rotation. It's not about sneaking anything in; it's about embracing all the wonderful vegetables the market has to offer at every meal — including desserts!
So how can you bake with more vegetables? Start with the sweet ones! Parsnips, carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, zucchini, and squash make the easiest additions to baked goods. Or think about which veggies might marry well with traditional sweet flavors, like chocolate and beets, or black beans or parsnips baked along with apples or pears. Take inspiration from other parts of the world. Chinese sweet red bean paste, made with adzuki beans, is delicious stuff! And even if it isn't immediately obvious, the preparation can make all the difference. Candied fennel was a revelation for me. I hope it is for you too!
(Image credits: Samantha Seneviratne; Faith Durand)