You’ll never guess the secret ingredient in this creamy, kid-approved frosting.

By Jenna Helwig
October 07, 2016
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Chocolate Sheet Cake
Credit: Romulo Yanes

A few months ago cookbook writer, recipe developer, and mom-of-three Genevieve Ko came to our offices to share a few treats from her new cookbook Better Baking, a gorgeous book featuring better-for-you baked goods. My colleagues and I happily sampled cookies, muffins, and tarts. Everything was truly delicious, but it was a modest-looking chocolate cake that, well, took the cake.

The cake itself was moist and chocolate-y, but the frosting! So smooth and rich. Genevieve asked us what we thought the secret ingredient was, and I have to confess that none of us guessed…

Sweet potato!

That’s right: With just chocolate and canned sweet potato you can whip up a luscious frosting free of the trans-fats and other suspicious-sounding ingredients in store-bought. Genevieve pairs the frosting with her School-Party Sheet Cake in Better Baking, but you can also use it to crown cupcakes or sandwich between chocolate chip cookies.

Now you may be wondering, should you tell your kids that the frosting is made of vegetables? Here’s my strategy – have them taste first, and when they’re asking for another spoon-ful, let them guess the mystery ingredient. Chances are they’ll be stumped, so feel free to tell them between licks. My bet is they’ll be surprised, but completely undeterred.

Sweet Potato Frosting

Sweet potato swirls into a frosting as creamy as that canned stuff, with far more flavor (and no added sugar).

1  (15-ounce; 425-g) can pure sweet potato puree

10 ounces (283 g) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped (1⅔ cups)

Bring the sweet potato puree to a simmer in a large saucepan over medium heat, stirring frequently. Remove from the heat and add the chocolate. Stir until smooth. Cool, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is at room temperature and the consistency of canned frosting. It should hold soft peaks when you lift the spatula from the pan but not be stiff.

Ingredient Tips: Use unsweetened pure canned sweet potato puree; it’s usually stocked near the canned pumpkin. Freshly cooked and pureed sweet potato is too granular and thick. Chocolate with a cacao content between 55 and 60 percent makes the frosting perfectly sweet and smooth.

Better Baking cover

Excerpted from BETTER BAKING, (c) 2016 by Genevieve Ko. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt/Rux Martin Books. All rights reserved.

Jenna Helwig is the food editor at Parents, an enthusiastic baker, and mother to an enthusiastic baked-goods eater. Follow her on Instagram.