Avocado is a fruit, after all. When you blend it with cacao, dates, hazelnuts, or other natural sweet flavors, you can whip up some healthy, satisfying desserts.
We’re not going to claim we discovered avocado-based desserts. Because the folks in Indonesia, Vietnam, and Brazil beat us to it by, like, a lot. We are, however, going to tell you that it’s high time we join the rest of the world. Avocados are rich, creamy, and full of the good kind of fat. They’re ever so slightly sweet, so they meld right into puddings and smoothies, and they can add moisture to brownies and cakes, too.
Throw half an avocado into your next smoothie for an instant upgrade, or go all out by making one of our favorite avocado-based desserts. Some are healthy(ish), some, well, not. But, you know, they’re desserts. That’s the point.
Charm School’s Avocado Ice Cream
There are a lot of recipes that try to use avocados as a health swap, putting heavy cream or butter on the bench. I love that this recipe considers avocados a vehicle for adding creaminess to an already luscious ice cream base—not as a second-rate substitute. The result is a dessert that celebrates the avocado as the squishy green star it is. This recipe comes to us courtesy of Charm School, a Richmond, Virginia, scoop shop. The two founders of the shop—who are both graduates of Penn State's Ice Cream Short Course (yup, that’s a thing)—love a scoop topped with a drizzle of fruity olive oil and fresh, sweetened whipped cream. I chose an aromatic Spanish olive oil, and it was pure delight. This recipe makes about one quart of ice cream.
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 1/2 cups ripe avocado flesh (from 2 to 3 avocados)
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, warm one cup of heavy cream with the sugar and salt. Stir until sugar is completely dissolved. Remove from the heat, add the remaining cream and milk, and pour into an airtight container. Cover and chill in the refrigerator until completely cool, ideally overnight. Before churning, use an immersion blender to add avocado to the chilled base. (If you don’t have an immersion blender, just whir the base and the avocados in your blender. It works fine.) Churn according to your ice cream machine’s settings, but when it’s about the consistency of soft serve, it should be safe to pull. Pack the ice cream into an airtight container, and allow it to harden in your freezer for at least five hours.
Deliciously Ella’s Cacao and Avocado Mousse
My editor told me that if I didn’t like this pudding, something was seriously wrong with my taste buds. She was not wrong—and there’s nothing wrong with my taste buds! While it’s the healthiest recipe on this list—it’s totally plant based, with all its sugar coming from dates—it still satisfies. It comes to us courtesy of Deliciously Ella, a plant-based food company and recipe site.
Ingredients for the Mousse
- 6 Medjool dates
- 1 banana
- Flesh of 1 large or 2 small avocados
- 1/2 cup cacao powder
- 1/3 cup almond or hazelnut milk
- 2 tablespoons of date syrup
- Pinch of salt
Ingredients for the Chocolate Sauce
- 1/2 cup cacao powder
- 6 tablespoons date syrup
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil
- 3 tablespoons coconut milk
- Coconut yogurt
- Toasted almond
Pit the dates. If they feel hard, soak them in boiling water for five to ten minutes. Put all the ingredients into a food processor and blend into a smooth mixture. Keep chilled in the fridge until you’re ready to serve. To make the chocolate sauce, melt the cacao powder, date syrup, and coconut oil together, then whisk in the coconut milk. Set aside to cool. When ready to serve, take your mousse out of the fridge and spoon it into bowls. Top with a dollop of coconut yogurt, a sprinkle of toasted almonds, and a drizzle of chocolate sauce.
Avocado and Pistachio No-Bake Cheesecake
This is what happens when you try to make traditional Sicilian cheesecake in the Southwest: it turns into an avocado cheesecake. We’re not complaining. Chef Matt Carter, who runs Fat Ox, in Scottsdale, Arizona, has crafted an easy(ish), no-bake recipe that’s bright with lemon but just a touch earthy, thanks to the avocados and pistachios. Don’t skip the amaro glaze—it’s extra work, but it’s so, so good.
- 1 1/2 pounds softened mascarpone or cream cheese
- 1 cup sugar
- Pinch of salt
- 1/3 cup crème fraîche
- 4 sheets gelatin (this equals 4 teaspoons of gelatin powder if you can’t find sheets)
- 1 cup pistachio paste (you can find it here if your grocery store doesn’t sell it), melted (just heat it slightly)
- 2/3 cup heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
- 2 to 3 avocados, depending on size—if they’re small, use three
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1 prebaked pie crust to pour the cheesecake into
Using electric beaters or a stand mixer, cream the softened mascarpone or cream cheese, stopping often to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the sugar and salt. Mix and scrape down the sides again. Add the crème fraîche, mix, and scrape down the sides. In a separate bowl, add the gelatin to the melted pistachio paste, letting the gelatin dissolve. Then add that mixture and the heavy cream and the vanilla to your other ingredients and mix. Add the diced avocado, and mix until smooth. Finally, add the lemon juice, and give it one last mix. Pour this mixture into the prebaked crust. (A store-bought graham-cracker crust works really well, though Carter also says this mixture is excellent for filling cannoli or, uh, eating with a spoon.) Allow the cheesecake to cool and set up in the fridge before topping it with the following glaze and serving.
- 3 oranges
- 1 clove
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 cups Sicilian amaro (Carter likes Amaro Nonino Quintessentia)
Peel one orange, then cut out the orange’s segments. Juice the two remaining oranges. In a large pot, add the orange juice, clove, cinnamon stick, honey, and sugar, and reduce until it reaches a syrupy consistency. Strain, then pour the warm syrup over the orange segments. Allow to cool, then spoon the mixture over your cool cheesecake.
Gluten-Free, Oil-Free Avocado Brownies
OK, so these are not as good as a tray of fat-and-flour-filled brownies. However, if you’re serving someone with a food allergy, or just trying to make your brownies a little healthier, these do the job well. This recipe comes to us from Luisa Ruocco, who runs @thehungrytraveler on Instagram. I made a few tweaks to her recipe, including adding a pinch of salt to balance out the sweet and half a teaspoon of vanilla. I also found I needed to double the recipe to make enough to fill even my smallest brownie pan (and to have enough matter actually in my blender to blend it). I’ve doubled it here, just for simplicity.
- 2 ripe avocados
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2/3 cup packed brown sugar
- 2/3 cup cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 1/2 cups chocolate chunks
- Optional: a pinch of salt and 1 teaspoon vanilla
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and line a nine-inch pan with parchment paper. (I actually just greased my pan, and it was fine). Place all ingredients except for the chocolate chunks in a blender, and blitz until smooth. Stir in the chocolate chunks, pour the batter into your pan, and bake for 20 to 25 minutes.