19 ingredients you were not expecting to find in your dessert

 

When it comes to dessert, vanilla is just so, well, vanilla. With ingredients like sauerkraut and 7-Up, these desserts are anything but.

1, 2. Pop Rocks and 7-Up

Recipe: Seven-Layer Soda Pop Rocks Cake 

pop rocks cake(Photo: Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times)

What happens when you combine 24 packets of Pop Rocks and 5 cups of 7-Up in this recipe adapted from Charles Phoenix? Not an explosion powerful enough to kill Life cereal's Little Mikey, but a decadent, colorful, seven-layer cake that calls for 10 pounds of frosting.

3. Cornflakes

Recipe: Cornflake Chocolate Chip Marshmallow Cookies 

cornflake cookies

These cookies from Christina Tosi started with a delicious accident: "In the Ko basement one day, Mar overtoasted the cornflake crunch for the cereal milk panna cotta. She was pissed. I was pissed. But we refused to let it go to waste. I was already well versed in making a cookie out of anything left in the pantry, and we needed a dessert for family meal anyway." Cornflake cookies, the dessert of champions.

4. Corn

Recipe: Sweet Corn Gelato 

corn gelato(Photo: iStockphoto)

It's OK, you can be a little corny and make this your new go-to gelato flavor. Just don't over-churn it. Mario Batali says, "Most people's problem in making ice cream or gelato is they tend to slightly over-churn it. It's not going to get as firm as you want it to be in the actual churn." Shucks.

5. Sauerkraut

Recipe: Engel Family German Chocolate Sauerkraut Fudge Cake

chocolate sauerkraut cake(Photo: Food Thinkers / Flickr)

Chocolate and sauerkraut don't usually belong in the same sentence, let alone the same cake. Carole Engel suggests keeping the sauerkraut under wraps: "We loved to watch our guests gape in surprise when the secret ingredient was revealed." If chocolate and sauerkraut aren't enough for your taste buds, brush the cake with coffee liqueur and top it off with Mocha Whipped Cream frosting.

6. Avocado

Recipe: Chocolate-Avocado Mousse Martinis with Fresh Raspberries 

chocolate avocado mousse martini(Photo: iStock)

This is not James Bond's martini -- but it is Sheryl Crow's. She says, "You would never have guessed that Chuck used avocado to thicken the mousse and that it would make it so delicious. Avocados are mild and sweet enough to blend seamlessly with the chocolate."

7. Dandelion petals

Recipe: Dandelion Petal Sorbet 

Dandelion petal sorbet(Photo: Flare / Flickr)

Put down the weed killer -- you could be looking at dessert. (You can also turn dandelions into cookies.)

8. Bacon

Recipe: Pecan-Brown Sugar and Bacon Ice Cream 

pecan-brown sugar bacon ice cream(Photo: joyosity / Flickr)

Bacon makes just about anything taste better -- breakfast, lunch, dinner, drinks, even ice cream. Joanna Pruess says, "Here's a delicious surprise: tiny bits of salty bacon are a wonderful addition to this creamy dessert." Overachievers: Extra points for curing your own bacon.

9. Chow mein noodles

Recipe: Spicy Peanut and Toasted Coconut Cookies 

Spicy peanut and toasted coconut cookies(Photo: Stacy Newgent)

You'll want to chow down on these chow mein cookies finished with cayenne pepper. "The sweet-and-spicy juxtaposition is addictive, sending you back for bite after bite," Faith Durand says.

10. Pizza crust

Recipe: Dessert Pizza 

Dessert pizza(Photo: eviemaedavid / Flickr)

Take some baked pizza crust, spread it with anything dairy ("Please, no Cool Whip!" begs Lynne Rossetto Kasper) and add in-season fruit as a topping. You won't even have to tip your delivery person.

11. Jalapeño

Recipe: Sweet Avocado-Green Chili Ice Cream 

Sweet avocado chili ice cream(Photo: iStockphoto)

You don't need an ice cream maker for this recipe. The unusual combination of avocado, jalapeño and vanilla ice cream makes it simultaneously savory, spicy and sweet. To cut some of the heat, pull back on the seeds.

12, 13. Chipotle pepper and serrano pepper

Recipe: Kahlo Cookies

Kahlo cookies(Photo: © Chia Chong)

Aka "Strangely hot Mexican cookies." The addition of chipotle pepper and hot pepper extract (serrano and jalapeño chiles) in these cookies packs an unexpected punch. If you like heat, try also: Chocolate Chile Cake (red chile) or Chile-Spiked Mexican Wedding Cakes (cayenne).

14. Pepsi

Recipe: Pepsi-Cola Cake with Broiled Peanut Butter Frosting 

Pepsi-Cola Cake(Photo: thebittenword.com / Flickr)

Pepsi and mini-marshmallows baked together, topped with peanut butter frosting and briefly broiled. What more can you want?

15. Parsnip

Recipe: Parsnip Ice Cream 

Parsnip ice cream(Photo: amesis / Flickr)

Barbara Kafka is rooting for this unusual ice cream: "I know, I'm pushing it; but sometimes when I do, there is a good outcome. Try it. It is wonderful, if unconventional."

16. Quinine

Recipe: Fluorescent Jello

Fluorescent Jello

This gin and tonic Jello glows in the dark -- and is not approved by Bill Cosby (as far as we know). "Quinine (the bitter flavoring in tonic water) glows under UV fluorescent light. If you want to serve this to kids or teetotallers, it works just as well without the gin," says Stefan Gates.

17, 18, 19. Batteries, LEDs and breadboard

Recipe: Birthday Cake with L.E.D. Lights 

Birthday Cake with LED Lights(Photo: nataliej / Flickr)

Some assembly required. "Enjoy your glowing masterpiece. But don't eat the LEDs; they still need to be pulled out of the cake, just like candles. The rest of your circuit is good enough to eat -- a tiny bit of and only once a year!" say Patrick Buckley and Lily Binns.

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