These days, a variety of restaurants are eschewing sugary in favour of subtle, with often surprising vegetables supplying natural sweetness and complex flavours. Beyond pumpkin pie and carrot cake, here are four spots with dessert menus worth skipping the sticky toffee pudding for.

Richmond Station, Toronto 

“A good dessert needs balance both in flavour and texture,” says pastry chef Farzam Fallah. Since the restaurant’s mandate is to use seasonal ingredients from local farmers, Fallah cooks with a lot of root and storage vegetables in winter, and he likes to incorporate them in desserts such as a parsnip cake with burnt chestnut ice cream and golden carrot purée, or butternut squash cake with whipped mascarpone.

Dirt Candy, New York City 

“Anyone can cook a hamburger—leave the vegetables to the professionals,” proclaims the manifesto of this seven-year-old vegetarian restaurant, a perennial fixture on New York City’s best-of lists. Book a table at its newer, bigger location to sample sweets from Canadian-raised chef and owner Amanda Cohen, including carrot meringue pie, rosemary eggplant tiramisu or the ice cream Nanaimo bar, with a sweet pea and mint filling.

Gelateria Uli, Los Angeles 

This popular shop in downtown L.A.’s newly revitalized Spring Arcade building makes gelato and sorbet daily. Stop in for a coffee and a scoop or three of their regular and rotating selections with seasonal inspiration; alongside standard flavours like chocolate, pistachio and salted caramel, you might find basil, beet tarragon, poblano pepper or coconut lemongrass. Suggest a flavour on their website and, if they make it, you win a free pint. 

Fogo Island Inn, Joe Batt’s Arm, Newfoundland 

Cooking at this Atlantic outpost means making use of “hyperseasonal” local ingredients as much as possible; work-of-art dessert creations by pastry chef Kara Lackie have included a turnip pie with turnip sorbet and molasses, a carrot beignet, and the Baumkuchen, or “tree cake,” an almond layer cake served with tart apple-kale sorbet, pickled crowberries, spruce and moss. “We’re in the middle of nowhere and we use what we can get,” says chef Murray McDonald. “Come January it gets interesting.”