Parsnip is the new carrot….didn’t ya know? My sister-in-law introduced me to this very versatile and sweet root vegetable and I have been in love ever since. They can be roasted, plain and simple with olive oil and salt and pepper or boiled and then pureed as a delicious and healthier substitute for mashed potatoes.
Or…they can shine in all their glory in this soft maple spice cake.
I made this as an alternative to the carrot cupcakes I was planning for our Easter party for no reason at all except I was in the mood for them. If you must know the truth, sometimes I wake up thinking about this particular spice cake. This recipe is THAT good and it does not even contain CHOCOLATE! That says a lot coming from the world’s biggest chocolate addict.
Faith, of Edible Mosaic made this as a cake, and I have her to blame for my little addiction. But really, if you are going to be addicted to any baked good, this may as well be it. It has no refined sugars (without the frosting). Instead it uses maple syrup as the sweetener and most of the flour used is from almonds and finally two whole cups of packed parsnips makes it into this recipe.
I hope you can tell from my up close and personal shot that the crumb is as soft as any cake I have ever made. It’s not as dense as a carrot cake, a little lighter and fluffier. I ended up whipping up a cream cheese frosting with some maple syrup and almond extract added. It was the perfect creamy note to pair with this spicy cake.
Parsnip Spice Cake
Adapted from An Edible Mosaic and from the cookbook, Sweet Magic from Michel Richard
Makes either one, one layer cake or 15 cupcakes
1 c. pure maple syrup
1/2 c. canola oil
2 large eggs
1/2 t. almond extract
1 T freshly grated ginger (or one teaspoon of ground ginger)
2 c. (8 oz) almond meal/flour
3/4 c. all-purpose flour
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. fine salt
1 lb (about 4-6 medium) parsnips, peeled and shredded, preferably in a food processor using the shredding attachment (about 2 c lightly packed)
Sliced almonds, toasted (optional, for decoration)
**OPTIONAL but really yummy…soak 3/4 cup of raisins in two tablespoons of rum for about 30 minutes prior to making the cake. Strain the raisins and stir them into the batter after the parsnips. Do not add the excess rum. It will be too much liquid for the batter).
Maple Cream Cheese Frosting – All Mine
1/2 c. unsalted butter, room temperature
8 oz cream cheese, low-fat is fine (one whole brick of cream cheese)
3-4 c. confectioners sugar, depending on how thick you want your frosting (sifted if you want super smooth frosting)
2 T. Pure, all natural maple syrup
1/4 t. almond extract
dash of salt
To make the cake: Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Either line a 9 inch cake pan with parchment paper and grease and flour or line a muffin pan with cupcake liners. In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat together the syrup through the freshly grated ginger (if you are using ground ginger, then add it with the list of dry ingredients below).
In a separate bowl, whisk together the almond flour through the salt. Add half of the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and then mix on low. Then add the other half and mix again until combined. Stir in the cup of shredded parsnips, lightly packed. Pour into cupcake liners or the cake pan. For cupcakes bake for about 20-25 minutes and for the cake bake for about 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Cool the cake for about 20 minutes and then loosen the sides and remove from the pan and cool completely before frosting.
To make the frosting: Beat the cream cheese and butter at medium speed in a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Then beat on high speed until creamy. Add the sifted powdered sugar, one cup at a time, and beat on low speed eat time. Add the almond extract, the syrup and salt and beat on medium or medium-high until very creamy. Frost and then sprinkle with toasted sliced almonds.
April 9, 2012 at 10:29 am
Can I visit you for five o’clock tea, today 🙂
So beautiful and so delicious, dear Geni Thank you with my love, nia
April 9, 2012 at 10:35 am
Absolutely, Nia. You are always welcome for tea. That would be so nice!
April 9, 2012 at 10:40 am
Oh dear Geni you are so nice. I wished to fly nowwwwwwwww 🙂 Love, nia
April 9, 2012 at 10:35 am
What a creative and clever cupcake! Like that alliteration? 😉 But seriously, these sound great, Geni. And you know that I love the fact that there’s no chocolate in these. Still can’t figure out why I don’t like it. We may never know. Anyways, hope you had a great Easter with the family. 🙂
April 10, 2012 at 9:57 am
Love the alliteration Caroline. 😉 I think you are lucky you don’t like chocolate. I swear it adds five pounds to me every year. I just can’t stay away from it. I hope you can still make it this Sunday with the time change for lunch. Can’t wait to meet you! We need to take a pic for our blogs!
April 9, 2012 at 12:34 pm
I love parsnips! Though admittedly in pies, roasted etc 😀
Never thought to have them in a dessert but the new carrot should be invited to the dark, I mean, sugary side too right? 😉
Choc Chip Uru
April 10, 2012 at 1:28 am
You must try ’em in cake. You will not be disappointed!
April 9, 2012 at 1:58 pm
It is very interesting that you are using parsnips. My mom was just talking about their health benefits and making them in soup the other day. You may be at the forefront of the next big thing!
April 9, 2012 at 2:04 pm
That made me smile. I can’t imagine being at the forefront of anything! I always feel two steps behind.
April 9, 2012 at 1:59 pm
What an innovative idea! I’ve only ever used parsnips in savoury dishes.
April 10, 2012 at 1:31 am
It really works nicely in this cake…I don’t think you’d be sorry you tried it.
April 9, 2012 at 2:01 pm
Oh yum, that recipe has my name all over it! And I have some cream cheese frosting in the freezer leftover from the last time I made carrot cake – too easy! Lovely post as usual Geni 🙂 If only maple syrup wasn’t so darn expensive in Australia, I usually have to use the imitation stuff if I don’t want to get out a personal loan.
April 10, 2012 at 1:33 am
I’m frustrated for you. Natural maple syrup is so yum…we should occupy something over this. At least stage a sit-in.
April 10, 2012 at 2:46 am
Haha – yes, I agree, a sit in at the very least!
April 9, 2012 at 3:56 pm
Oooohhh . . .I love the idea of using parsnips. I rarely ever buy they, but theyre so good. And considering the awesomeness of carrot cake, I feel like this would be equally delicious.
April 10, 2012 at 9:35 am
I think you would definitely be in heaven with this cake and I think you should just replace all the flour with the almond meal or a GF substitute flour and let me know how it comes out. I think it should be fine.
April 9, 2012 at 4:46 pm
I heard turnips were the new parsnip. Said it before, I’ll say it again.. no not the turnip thing that was a first… you make GF look good.
April 9, 2012 at 7:27 pm
Unfortunately, these are not GF…I just don’t want to mislead anyone who has real health concerns. This recipe just happened to call for mostly almond flour. My son, the GF sensitive one, would never have gotten within 10 ft. of these cupcakes since they had a vegetable in them so there was no need to go GF. Turnips are the new parsnip?! I am always two steps behind, Greg.
April 9, 2012 at 4:57 pm
I really enjoy parsnips but never would have thought to use them in cupcakes. And that frosting of yours sounds delicious! What a great pair of recipes, Geni! Thanks!
April 10, 2012 at 1:37 am
You are most welcome John. Thank you for the kind words.
April 9, 2012 at 6:19 pm
I have never seen parsnips in a cake form before, so I am very, very intigued. They do look awfully moist and delicious.
April 10, 2012 at 1:36 am
Your kiddos would NEVER know there was a vegetable in there! I promise. 🙂
April 9, 2012 at 8:33 pm
At first I thought..parsnip cupcakes? Not. But now that I read this and really think about it…they sound delicious. One of the problems I often have with carrot cake is that is seem so super sweet to me (icing not withstanding) and that earthy and less sweet parsnip makes total sense.
April 10, 2012 at 1:23 am
And the maple syrup instead of sugar helps a lot with that overly sugary taste you get from carrot cake sometimes.
April 9, 2012 at 9:02 pm
Well you know i’ll be making these. A dessert that Geni endorses that does not contain chocolate. I’m in! And what a better way to introduce myself to parsnips than in a dessert. 😉 Love it!
April 10, 2012 at 1:40 am
April 9, 2012 at 9:38 pm
I’ve never had parsnip before but I think I might lose my parsnip-virginity with these awesome cupcakes 🙂
April 10, 2012 at 1:42 am
A parsnip virgin? we must change that at once!
April 9, 2012 at 10:18 pm
Sadly we don’t get parsnips here 😦 I keep seeing these tempting recipes using them but I can’t find them anywhere
April 10, 2012 at 1:44 am
That’s a bummer! So sorry!
April 10, 2012 at 5:20 am
Oh wow, what a great idea – your cupcakes look delicious! I love that they are so different.
April 10, 2012 at 9:29 am
Thank you so much Mandy!
April 10, 2012 at 6:10 am
Parsnips have been discovery for me too in recent years, wonderful little veggie to use in place of carrots or right along side. Evidently, great in cupcakes too!
April 10, 2012 at 9:28 am
I really am smitten with them!
April 10, 2012 at 9:41 am
Wow ! I am not really fond of this veggie. I had to look up the Hindi name to figure out what you were discussing n I’m impressed. The max we do with it is cut a salad or make a paratha. I have to give these a try. This is the perfect season for, ‘muli’ that is parsnip.
April 10, 2012 at 10:19 am
I should have taken a pic of the parsnips first for those who aren’t familiar with them or our name for them, but I was running aruond like crazy on Saturday trying to get everything made for our big Easter party. The only reason I have pics of the cupcakes at all is because we had a few left over from Sunday. Have a wonderful week!
April 10, 2012 at 12:52 pm
I never cooked with parsnips…let alone baking with it. I like the description of new carrot…I like the idea of almond meal and the spices in this cupcakes…something that I’d love to try. Thanks for this interesting recipe.
Have a great week Geni 🙂
April 11, 2012 at 11:00 am
Thank you, I do hope you get a chance to try cooking with parsnips. The bisque recipe in the link on my photo caption looks a a pretty delicious way to start.
April 10, 2012 at 6:30 pm
Parsnip cupcakes! Who would have ever guessed!
April 10, 2012 at 8:43 pm
Geni, I love parsnips! Can you tell the difference in the cake? I would love to try this one.. I’m a big fan of cupcakes and the maple and ginger in this one sounds fantastic!
April 11, 2012 at 5:11 am
It does not have the same flavor as carrot cake. To me it tastes a lot more like an old fashioned spice cake. I don’t taste the parsnips in there, but I am sure they are lending a unique flavor to the cake. The crumb of this cake very light and moist and does have just a hint of an almond note from the almond meal. Kids and adults both enjoyed the cupcakes on Easter over here.
April 10, 2012 at 11:48 pm
Wow I should try this or even yet you gave me an idea, how about a parsnip cake 🙂
April 11, 2012 at 11:01 am
Ok, Raymund, I am now holding by breath until you post a parsnip cake. Challenge!
April 11, 2012 at 4:14 am
I’ve never tried parsnip!
April 11, 2012 at 11:01 am
You must! You will not be sorry.
April 11, 2012 at 5:00 am
This is a wonderful recipe, alternative to carrot cake. I have used beets and sweet potatoes in my baked sweet goods but never thought to try parsnips. The maple frosting looks great too. I’m so hungry and it’s only 7:30am, need to eat breakfast before I eat my computer screen! lol
April 11, 2012 at 11:02 am
Honestly, frosting aside Lisa, this cupcake would be the perfect breakfast with a nice hot cup of coffee. Wish I could have sent it to you.
April 11, 2012 at 7:45 am
You know I love anything with maple! And “hidden” vegetables in cake are always a great idea. I’ll have to jump on the parsnip bandwagon too. These look fantastic!
April 11, 2012 at 11:04 am
Frankly my dear, I am quite shocked that you are not already on the parsnip bandwagon. You are always two steps ahead of me. Glad to know that I “scooped” you this once.
April 11, 2012 at 8:22 am
Parsnips are the new carrots? I didn’t know! 🙂 But it just so happens that I have a few parsnips in the fridge and free schedule this afternoon. Perhaps I need to get baking and find out for myself.
April 11, 2012 at 11:05 am
If you really do try this recipe, please let me know. I would love to know how it worked for you. I have made it several times and find it to be reliably delish.
April 11, 2012 at 11:27 am
I most certainly will!
April 11, 2012 at 10:42 am
Ah, parsnips. A great alternative to using carrots.
April 11, 2012 at 11:05 am
Glad we agree!
April 11, 2012 at 10:48 am
I never thought Parsnips and cupcakes would be thrown in the same sentence.. but now I see theres nothing wrong with that sentence at all. I wish I had these cupcakes right now 🙂
April 11, 2012 at 11:06 am
Yes, the wonderful spices and freshly grated ginger really give this veggie quite the make over.
April 11, 2012 at 12:22 pm
This cupcakes seems very good, I ‘ll try this recipe as soon as possible.
Chantal a french cooker
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April 12, 2012 at 9:29 am
I will definitely stop by your blog. Thank you for stopping by mine.
April 11, 2012 at 1:56 pm
I love that these are sweetened with maple syrup. I can’t wait to try this recipe.
April 12, 2012 at 9:31 am
I think you will be very happy you did Janna. Thanks for stopping by.
April 11, 2012 at 2:52 pm
and here I was thinking my hummingbird cupcakes were different and fun. These are amazing! So creative and just beautiful!
April 12, 2012 at 9:59 am
Your hummingbird cakes are fabulous! I don’t know what you’re talking about Jessica.
April 11, 2012 at 2:56 pm
Oh boy! Maple cream cheese frosting sounds divine!! Love the way your little cupcakes turned out! Texture seems perfect 🙂
April 12, 2012 at 10:01 am
Thanks so much…I am still drooling over your red velvet cake/cheesecake. YUM!
April 11, 2012 at 7:09 pm
Whoa! How unique is that. I love the maple syrup, yum.
April 12, 2012 at 10:01 am
Thank you Ashley!
April 12, 2012 at 6:49 am
Ok, everything about this is intriguing. I’ve never tried parsnips. I know, I know. I’ve tried a dozen stranger things this year and somehow parsnips haven’t made the list. I need to change that! These sound delicious!
April 12, 2012 at 10:02 am
Yes, parsnips do need to make the list. You won’t be sorry.
April 13, 2012 at 12:07 pm
I love parsnips roasted, would never think to use it in a cake, fantastic idea. Your cupcakes look amazng! Great combination with maple. Love this.