Dessert is evolving from the traditional to the unexpected: Now it’s often a good way to get your vegetables.

Today’s pastry chefs are going beyond carrot cake, zucchini bread, and sweet potato pie when it comes to making desserts with vegetables.

Corn, tomatoes, cucumber, squash, eggplant, celery, beets, carrots, and mushrooms are all showing up in desserts such as tomato sorbet, corn crème brulée, and chocolate-beet baked goods. Some vegetables cook in similar ways to fruits. For example, eggplant can be a substitute in many recipes for apple or pear.

Chef Michael Laiskonis says, "Incorporating vegetables in dessert recipes is more about creating a flavorful dish and realizing that vegetables have various functionalities rather than using a particular one for ‘shock value’ alone."

Vegetables can also be substitutes for high fat ingredients; the creamy texture and fat content of avocados make them a great substitute for fat in ice creams, gelato, and mousse. In addition, vegetables can be a colorful natural alternative to artificial colorings due to their pigments.

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