33 Unusual Desserts That Rely on a Shocking Ingredient

Updated: May 19, 2024

Desserts with vegetables? Tofu? Baby food? Surprise your family and friends with these unusual desserts that have crazy secret ingredients!

1 / 33

Summer Squash Pound Cake

Ingredient: Yellow Squash

This golden brown, tender pound cake is the perfect treat to make when you have an abundance of summer squash in your garden. It’s not overly sweet, so it appeals to everyone. —Lisa Brockwell, Necedah, Wisconsin
2 / 33

Fried Ice Cream Dessert Bars

Ingredient: Cornflakes

Fried ice cream is such a delicious treat, but it can be a hassle to make individual servings. This recipe gives you the same fabulous flavor in an easy and convenient bar form. —Andrea Price, Grafton, Wisconsin

3 / 33

Peaches and Cream Whiskey Loaf

Ingredient: Whiskey

I love when fresh peaches are in season! This recipe is sweet from the ripe peaches with a slight tang from the whiskey. This is a perfect after-dinner treat, but it’s just as good with your morning coffee. It also makes a welcome gift for neighbors and friends. —Anne Ormond, Dover, New Hampshire

4 / 33

Vegan Chocolate Mousse

Ingredient: Avocados

My son is allergic to dairy and eggs, so I created this silky vegan chocolate mousse recipe that he could enjoy. It’s also gluten free and grain free. If you’re having company over, it can be prepared the night before and stored in the refrigerator. —Sarah Meuser, New Milford, Connecticut
5 / 33

Pink Peppercorn and Sake Ice Cream

Ingredient: Peppercorns

There’s plenty of sake flavor in this rich ice cream studded with peppercorns. You’ll get an interesting pop of heat with every bite. —Taste of Home Test Kitchen, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
6 / 33

Black Bean Brownies

Ingredient: Black Beans

You’d never guess these rich, velvety chocolate treats contain a can of black beans. Who would have thought black bean brownies would be so amazing? —Kathy Hewitt, Cranston, Rhode Island
7 / 33

Pineapple Carrot Cake

Ingredient: Baby Food

This moist cake with cream cheese frosting is the best I’ve ever eaten. It’s so simple, too, because it uses two jars of baby food instead of fresh carrots that need to be grated. —Jeanette McKenna, Vero Beach, Florida

8 / 33

Potato Chip Clusters

Ingredient: Potato Chips

Just three offbeat ingredients add up to one unique, delectable, no-bake treat. These super-easy, sweet-and-salty candy clusters make for merry munching during holiday trips or parties. They travel well in containers without melting or getting soft. —Donna Brockett, Kingfisher, Oklahoma
9 / 33

Tropical Compote Dessert

Ingredient: Jalapeno

To make a more adult version of this recipe, use brandy instead of the extra tropical fruit juice. —Taste of Home Test Kitchen
10 / 33

Contest-Winning Chocolate Potato Cake

Ingredient: Potatoes

I won grand champion honors in a potato festival baking contest with this moist chocolate cake. The icing recipe can be doubled for real sweet tooths. A great-grandma, I’ve spent over 85 years on the farm.
11 / 33

Rosemary Citrus Sorbet

Ingredient: Rosemary

This pretty pastel dessert bursts with the fresh flavors of grapefruit, lime and rosemary. —Rebecca Baird, Salt Lake City, Utah
12 / 33

Raspberry Moscow Mule Cake

Ingredient: Ginger Beer

This Moscow mule cake is my favorite cake I’ve ever made from scratch. It’s so moist and flavorful, and it reminds me of my favorite cocktail. —Becky Hardin, St. Peters, Missouri
13 / 33

Butternut Harvest Pies

Ingredient: Tofu

This egg- and dairy-free pie is a great alternative to standard pumpkin pie! We love to make the pies with squash from our garden. Feel free to adding more of your favorite spices! You’ll be glad the recipe makes two. —Juliana Thetford, Ellwood City, Pennsylvania
14 / 33

Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake

Ingredient: Mayonnaise

Mom always made this special chocolate mayonnaise cake for my birthday meal. It is very moist and has a nice light chocolate taste, and the flavorful frosting is the perfect topping. —Deborah Amrine, Grand Haven, Michigan
15 / 33

Lavender Honey Cheesecake

Ingredient: Lavender

I love the scent of lavender, and the edible flowers make this cheesecake one of the most spectacular I’ve tasted. You can use lavender honey in this recipe for extra flavor, but even without it, the lavender is very distinct. —Julie Palmer, Lafayette Hill, Pennsylvania
16 / 33

Dark Chocolate Ice Cream with Paprika & Agave

Ingredient: Paprika

Pair this rich and creamy ice cream with a cup of hot or iced coffee. It’s mildly sweet with a hint of paprika. —Taste of Home Test Kitchen
17 / 33

Chocolate Guinness Cake

Ingredient: Stout

One bite and everyone will propose a toast to this silky-smooth chocolate Guinness cake. The cream cheese frosting reminds us of the foamy head on a perfectly poured pint. —Marjorie Hennig, Seymour, Indiana
18 / 33

Quinoa, Fresh Fig and Honey-Balsamic Parfait

Ingredient: Balsamic Vinegar

This quinoa yogurt parfait is special to me because of its wholesome ingredients. Quinoa is gluten-free, which is good for those who have food allergies, like my daughter. And I love fresh ripe figs when they are in season. Enjoy this for breakfast or dessert. —Dawn Hutchins, St. Johns, Florida
19 / 33

Olive Oil Cake

Ingredient: Olive Oil

A good olive oil cake isn’t overly sweet, so it can just as easily be a breakfast treat or an afternoon snack as a dessert. —Lisa Kaminski, Wauwatosa, Wisconsin
20 / 33

Bacon Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Blondies

Ingredient: Bacon

If you’re a sweet and savory fan like me, you’ll go wild over this bacon cookie bar recipe. You just can’t beat a cookie, brownie and cheesecake all mixed up and sprinkled with bacon. —Katie O’Keeffe, Derry, New Hampshire
21 / 33

Sauerkraut Chocolate Cake

Ingredient: Sauerkraut

For an adventurous cake, try this recipe. People might need a little coaxing to try it but once they do, they will love it.—The Fremont Company
22 / 33

Red Curry-Pandan Ice Cream

Ingredient: Curry Powder

The curry and coconut flavors are subtle, allowing the flavor of pandan leaves to shine. Pandan is a tropical plant that grows in Southeast Asia with a naturally sweet, bright flavor. —Taste of Home Test Kitchen, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
23 / 33
24 / 33

Spiced Toffee Cookies

Ingredient: Toasted Wheat Germ

I bake these cookies for family gatherings because my crowd likes cookies thin and chewy with a crispy exterior. The toffee bits make a happy surprise.—Gloria Bradley, Naperville, Illinois
25 / 33

Green Tomato Pie

Ingredient: Green Tomatoes

When frost nips our garden, I quickly gather all the green tomatoes still on the vine and make this old family favorite. It’s been handed down from my grandmother, and now my granddaughters are asking for the recipe.—Violet Thompson, Port Ludlow, Washington
26 / 33

Creamy Corn Custard

Ingredient: Corn

I make this custard all summer long! When I serve it to guests, I try to make them guess the secret ingredient. Not many guess corn, so it’s a fun surprise. —Margee Berry, White Salmon, Washington
27 / 33

Blueberry Zucchini Squares

Ingredient: Zucchini

I saw a bar recipe on a box of muffin mix using apple and lemon zest. I tried it from scratch with shredded zucchini and fresh blueberries instead. It’s a tasty combo. —Shelly Bevington, Hermiston, Oregon
28 / 33

Sour Cream Sugar Cookie Cake

Ingredient: Sour Cream

My husband requested a giant sugar cookie for his birthday. I wanted to do something a bit more exciting than birthday cookies, so I came up with this sugar cookie cake. The secret to a dense, yet cakelike texture is to make sure that you don’t overbake the cake. —Carmell Childs, Orangeville, Utah
29 / 33

Watermelon Cupcakes

Ingredient: Lemon-Lime Soda

My granddaughter and I bake together each week. She was inspired by her mommy’s flavored syrups, so we came up with these watermelon cupcakes. If you are not going to pipe the frosting, you can reduce the amount of frosting by half. —Elizabeth Bramkamp, Gig Harbor, Washington
30 / 33

Haystack Cookies with Peanut Butter

Ingredient: Chow Mein Noodles

Peanut butter haystacks are one of my favorite desserts. I love to serve them to guests because they marvel at how something so simple tastes so good! —Starrlette Howard, Ogden, Utah
31 / 33

Molly's Sweet and Spicy Tzimmes Cake

Ingredient: White Wine

My husband and I are always on the lookout for new ways to incorporate Jewish traditions into our interfaith home. Rich with apples, carrots and sweet potato, this sweet and spicy cake is perfect for Rosh Hashana or any fall holiday. —Molly Haendler, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
32 / 33

Popcorn Cookies

Ingredient: Popcorn

It’s so much fun to surprise people with the crushed popcorn in these yummy cookies. They’re definitely a distinctive cookie on the holiday tray.—Leigh Anne Preston, Palmyra, Indiana
33 / 33

Cola Cake with Strawberries & Cream

Ingredient: Cola Soda

We Southerners have been eating cola cake for decades. This easy version has strawberries, too. Chill it in the fridge for a dreamy summer dessert. —Peggy Walpert, Fort Worth, Texas