Baking Desserts with Vegetables

Learn how to incorporate your daily dose of veggies into your favorite sweet treats.

| March 2018

  • Photo by Tim Hillier
  • “Sticky Fingers, Green Thumb” by Hayley McKee shows readers that baking and gardening can go hand in hand in the kitchen.
    Photo courtesy of Hardie Grant Publishing

Sticky Fingers, Green Thumb (Hardie Grant, 2018) by Hayley McKee shows readers that vegetables and desserts can indeed be a winning combination. In almost 60 recipes, McKee mixes veggies into her unique desserts to give you a healthy and delicious treat, while showing you how to harness the most flavor from every vegetable. In the following excerpt, she discusses the different flavors each veggie has to offer in baking.

Vegetables are particularly versatile in baking, yet are so often forgotten. They offer a broad scale of flavors, provide form, add moisture and create texture. Root vegetables crop up in cakes, with carrots, pumpkins and beetroots being the most loved and well known, but turning to your salad bowl for inspiration can provide even more flavor ideas.

My most-loved vegetables add earthiness and a hint of nature to cakes, cookies, slices and pies. There are other vegetables that I’m sure are compatible with baking but, for me, if they don’t hit the flavor mark then they’ve not been included (I’m looking at you, cauliflower). Just because you can find a clever way to incorporate a vegetable into a dessert, doesn’t mean you should.

So, when it comes time to pluck your veggies from your garden (or a local farmers’ market), instead of turning to the same savory classics, try exploring this alternative collection of recipes made especially for your sweet tooth. For instance, say goodbye to your annual flood of zucchini fritters and hello to coffee, banana and zucchini loaf.

Flavor Notes

Some of the vegetables in this section are technically fruits but, because their taste and use are generally more associated with the vegetable family, I’ve kept them in the gang.


With the texture of butter and the taste of fresh, grassy cream, avocados make an easy leap into baked sweets. Incorporate them into buttercreams or to give soft body to batters and doughs. Their delicate, fatty base notes work equally well with bright acidic flavors or oaky, dark chocolate. As an aside, their cool lusciousness makes them a good ally for mousses, ice creams and no-bake pie fillings.

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