In case you needed any justification for gorging on dessert, these five delicious treats are made with...vegetables. You'll never think of beets the same way again.
1. Ube Cheesecake, Café 86, Pasadena, CA
Cafe 86 in Pasadena, California, serves crazy-good coffee, tea and sandwiches, but one of its standout dishes is the ube cheesecake. The dessert celebrates the root vegetable by combining puréed purple yams with milk, butter and sugar to create a thick, jam-like texture, and ups the ante with a Saltine cracker-type crust. While you're there, keep an eye out for celeb diners like Taboo of the Black Eyed Peas.
2. Beet Panna Cotta, Underbelly, Houston
Don’t be surprised to see football players from the Houston Texans or Houston rapper Bun B at Underbelly, where chef Chris Shepherd’s menu changes daily and highlights the most flavorful local ingredients. The James Beard Award-winning chef also puts his magic touch on the dessert list, where you'll find the beet panna cotta, a stunning Italian custard made with the root vegetable and served with creme fraiche and mustard seed for a killer last course.
3. Carrot Meringue Pie, Dirt Candy, New York City
The roster of insanely inventive meatless dishes at chef Amanda Cohen's always-packed vegetarian restaurant Dirt Candy includes a playful carrot meringue pie, made with sour cream, ice cream and candied carrot chips. Sure, we've all had carrot cake, but no carrot dessert has ever tasted anything like this one. You'll want to eat your way around the rest of Cohen's menu too, and get your hands on dishes like the fabulous grilled-onion salad, the black radish spaghetti, and the whimsical (and awesome) Brussels sprouts tacos.
4. Dutch Caramel Apple, Vedge, Philadelphia
The alluring vegan menu at Vedge in Philadelphia has caught the attention of regulars like M. Night Shymalan and Philadelphia Eagles football player Connor Barwin, along with Philly's native son Questlove, plus Jon Voight, Kim Catrall, Katie Perry, Colin Farrell, Moby and The White Stripes. They all come for one-of-a-kind creations like the Dutch caramel apple, made with whipped sweet potato piped into apples that have been roasted with cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, olive oil, rosemary and brown sugar. The whole thing is served on a plate with horseradish cream sauce made pink thanks to fresh beet juice, and topped with a donut that’s been dusted with caraway sugar and drizzled with an agave-slash-mustard glaze. (Fans will want to keep an eye out for the second vegan concept, V Street, from the same James Beard Award-winning team, set to open this fall.)
5. Chocolate Cremeux, Fluff Bake Bar, Houston
At Houston's Fluff Bake Bar, traditional sweets like cookies, tarts, pies and cakes join more flamboyant inventions like the milk chocolate cremeux from pastry chef Rebecca Masson, a former contestant on Bravo Network’s Top Chef Just Desserts. She combines shiro kikurage (Japanese mushrooms) with creamy milk chocolate, passion fruit curd and hazelnuts for a hauntingly delicious dessert you'll be thinking about for days.
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