Give Your Next Batch Of Gnocchi The Dessert Treatment

The next time you're looking for a little treat at the end of a long day, look no further than the gnocchi you have in your fridge or freezer. Although it may not immediately seem like a dessert, gnocchi can actually be transformed into sweet, bite-sized morsels quite easily.

To turn your gnocchi from a dinner staple to a dessert delight, simply fry traditional potato gnocchi in oil, much like you would with donuts or fried dough. Once the pieces are golden and crispy on the outside, remove from the pan and top with some kind of sugary sauce. Another simple option is to dust the gnocchi with powdered sugar and drizzle on melted Nutella. 

Frying the gnocchi will produce a morsel that's crispy on the outside and soft in the middle, but if you're wanting the more traditional gnocchi experience, you can boil instead (most store-bought gnocchi packages have instructions for boiling). Once the morsels float to the top of the pot — typically after two to four minutes — they will have a texture more like a dumpling and can be given the same sweet treatment. While best enjoyed fresh, dessert gnocchi will stay for up to three days if kept in the fridge. 

Want to level up your dessert gnocchi even more?

Once you've mastered the art of deep-frying gnocchi and want to experiment even more, there are a number of ways to make them into more complex desserts. Because gnocchi comes naturally bite-sized, they can be perfectly covered in any number of sweet toppings. For fans of Auntie Anne's cinnamon pretzel bites, churro gnocchi could be the dessert you're looking for. These cinnamon-centric bites can be cooked according to the instructions on the package. While they're cooking, prepare the buttery, creamy, and sugary sauce they'll get tossed in. Giada De Laurentiis even has a recipe for cinnamon gnocchi, utilizing cinnamon butter sauce.

Instead of going the store-bought route, you could make your gnocchi from scratch to have a little bit more control over the flavors. Potato gnocchi is typically only made with flour, potato, and egg, but some dessert recipes add ingredients like mascarpone cheese and lemon zest for a sweeter twist in the base. Like classic gnocchi, these can be topped with anything that sounds tempting. A good rule of thumb is to treat these morsels like fried dough, and garnish with a range of delicious items including whipped cream, powdered sugar, or a fruit-based sauce. 

Veggie-based gnocchi can work well, too

There are various gnocchi varieties you could transform into dessert, even veggie-based options. In addition to sweet potato gnocchi, there are also versions made from cauliflower and carrots.

Sweet potatoes, often used in sweet potato pie, pair wonderfully with a mixture of cinnamon, maple, and brown sugar-based drizzles or sauces. At Thanksgiving, sweet potatoes can be turned into casseroles topped with marshmallows, so in theory the same could be done with gnocchi. 

While cauliflower isn't typically associated with desserts, some Instagram creators have crafted nutritious versions of cinnamon gnocchi using the veggie version as a base. Cauliflower gnocchi is a really versatile option because the vegetable is fairly neutral in flavor. This is why it's often used to make things like gluten-free pizza dough or rice alternatives, and makes it great for using in sweet dishes as well. 

Carrot gnocchi might be more challenging to convert into a dessert, but given the popularity of maple roasted carrots, it could potentially be treated similarly to sweet potato gnocchi. Carrot cake is another beloved sweet treat, so you could even take its flavors as inspiration and make a similar crumble topping for carrot gnocchi.