whaddya think ya doing? – winter ‘carrot’ cake

by hungryrabbit on February 4, 2011

Winter 'Carrot' Cake

With the Year of the Rabbit upon us, my friend Jackie, the diva, and I are planning a Chinese New Year potluck for our fellow food bloggers and friends. The response has been amazing and we look forward to feast on the collective effort of all guests.

While I committed to make Sesame Coins for this occasion, I also thought of making a Carrot Cake to welcome the Rabbit. Though you can get carrots year round, it’s not the season for these bright orange beauties to shine. Other vegetables such as sweet potatoes have been used in desserts, but when I came across an article raving about the parsnip, that got me hooked.

I have used parsnips in soups or roasted them as side dishes-but never in a dessert. I was hesitant to experiment due to the unique scent and taste of parsnips, but when I saw the beautiful parsnips at the Farmer’s Market, I couldn’t resist and bought them for a kitchen experiment on a snowy Saturday afternoon.

After searching, I came upon a Parsnip Cake recipe and adapted it: a little grating of parsnips; a mixing of sugar, eggs and oil; a quick whisk of flour, spice and leveler–and off it went into the oven. About 30 minutes later, out came these gorgeous little cakes that surprisingly didn’t smell like a vegetable at all.

I patiently waited for it to cool completely and apply cream cheese frosting for our first taste test. I purposely did not tell M what it was to let him guess. After a few careful bites much pondering, and some wrong answers, he unofficially surrendered so he could finish the rest.

Even though there are sugars in the cake, the earthy sweetness of the parsnips gives the cake a certain brightness. The vegetable’s scent mellows from baking, and its moisture distributes evenly throughout the final product.

I highly recommend you to this surprising cake to get your through the long winter days.

Winter ‘Carrot’ Cake

recipe adapted from Danielle Pruett
makes 7 mini- cakes

For the cake:
1 cup a!l-purpose flour
1⁄2 cup whole almonds with skin, grounded or almond flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1⁄2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1⁄2 cup granulated sugar
1⁄2 cup confectioners’ sugar
1⁄2 cup packed light brown sugar
3 large egg
1 tablespoon pure vani!la extract
12 tablespoons (1-1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 cups grated parsnip

For the frosting:
3/4 pound cream cheese, at room temperature
12 tablespoons (1-1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon lemon zest, freshly grated
1-1⁄2 teaspoons lemon or orange juice
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1-1⁄2 teaspoons rum, brandy or milk

1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Coat 7 min-quiche pans w cooking spray, set aside.

2. In a large bowl, combine flours, ground almonds, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Whisk briefly to combine.

3. In a separate medium bowl, combine sugars, eggs, vanilla and melted butter, whisk until well blend. Add the egg mixture to the dry mixture and whisk until evenly combined.

4. Fold parsnips into batter with rubber spatula until evenly distributed.

5. Pour batter into prepared pans and bake for 25-30 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. Place cakes on a wire rack and let cool.

6. Make frosting while cake is cooling. In a standing mixer with paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and butter on medium speed until blended, 2-3 minutes. Add confections’ sugar and mix until blended, stopping the mixer and scraping down the bowl as needed. Add lemon zest, lemon/orange juice, vanilla, rum and beat just until blended.

7. Remove cake from individual pans. Spread or pipe frosting on top of cake.

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{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

Sara February 4, 2011 at 8:30 am

Ken, what a clever idea to use parsnips for the carrot cake! Awesome! Your pics are cake pics are gorgeous!
Happy Chinese New Year! Potluck sounds like fun! :)

JenniferA February 4, 2011 at 8:33 am

Love your piping techniques and your creativity! Never would have thought of parsnips!

catty February 4, 2011 at 9:00 am

Firstly, since we had an overwhelmingly successful pot luck for CNY, I think yours will be unbelievable too – so have fun and I wanna see pics!

Secondly, I LOVE parsnips! Love parsnip chips and roasted parsnip so I can only imagine how delicious it would be in a cake.


Lisa February 4, 2011 at 9:03 am

What a great way to use parsnips! And this is your year Ken, Happy New Year! You are an amazing blogger and I can’t wait to see whatnyou have in store for us this year, say warm!

justcooknyc February 4, 2011 at 10:01 am

wow, carrot (sorry parsnip) cake has never looked this good before. i hope you all have fun at your Chinese new year potluck. thanks again for the invite.

MarmandeintheKitchen February 4, 2011 at 10:11 am

I’ve been thinking about making parsnip cake and this convinced me – looks great!

Brian @ A Thought For Food February 4, 2011 at 10:22 am

What a fantastic idea, Ken! I have no doubts that this is wonderful.

Diane {createdbydiane.blogspot.com} February 4, 2011 at 12:51 pm

They look fabulous and cream cheese frosting with lemon and rum, oh that sounds wonderful!

Prerna@IndianSimmer February 4, 2011 at 12:55 pm

Oh that’s a great idea ken!Parsnip in a cake??! Loving it!

Mrs. Mix It February 4, 2011 at 9:38 pm

OMG that looks so fabulous and carrotlicious!

Liren February 4, 2011 at 10:33 pm

Ken, this is just amazing! I love the idea of baking with parsnips – you’ve given me such inspiration!

rebecca February 4, 2011 at 11:40 pm

this looks amazing and what a fab idea to make something with carrots for the year of the rabbit happy new year

Adryon February 5, 2011 at 3:14 pm

This looks wonderful! I love parsnips and would never think to use them in cake. yUM.

Jackie February 5, 2011 at 4:29 pm

Kung hey fat choi, Ken! What a beautiful way to bring in the Year of the Bunny (my year too!) – I love the frosting on the top. I recently learned how to do that myself, so this’ll be something I attempt when I get home!

Hope you’re having a wonderful weekend, mon choufleur!

Jax x

bunkycooks February 5, 2011 at 6:52 pm

Happy New Year and blogger event! Parsnips…oh, my! I bet this cake is much tastier than the parsnip fries I tried. I would love to see if the “bite” or bitterness mellows when baking. Either way, frosting makes everything better! :)

Sylvie @ Gourmande in the Kitchen February 6, 2011 at 8:35 am

What a nice idea to swap carrots for parsnips. I bet the parsnips give the cake a little bit of spiciness too that using carrots wouldn’t have.

Nina | Salt February 7, 2011 at 11:20 pm

Happy New Year and wonderful idea on the parsnips! Your piping is beautifully done. Cheers!

fooddreamer February 8, 2011 at 7:42 am

These are so gorgeous and I love that they are made in tart pans for that fluted exterior. A great way to ring in the Rabbit and very apropos for your blog.

My Man's Belly February 9, 2011 at 8:38 am

Wish I was back in NY to go to this party…I can only imagine the food. Love your idea of using parsnips in the cake. I’ve just starting cooking with them and experimenting with their flavors. Good to know I might be able to slip them into a dessert or two.

Jamie February 10, 2011 at 4:23 am

Parsnips? Who woulda thought except someone as creative as you, Ken! These look lusciously fabulous and ever so pretty (as usual!). Wish I could join you and La Diva for a meal or two…one day I will!

chris February 10, 2011 at 4:34 pm

You are a bold man, putting parsnips into your dessert. I’m glad that your boldness and bravery paid off in the end. Glad to hear that you had an awesome dessert. If you’re in the mood to mix and mingle with some other food bloggers and foodies, there’s this event I want to invite you to at Albert Hall. I’m shooing you a message in a few. Thanks for sharing your recipe and success =)

Jean February 10, 2011 at 11:55 pm

Ken, these cupcakes are lovely. I haven’t expanded my parsnip repertoire beyond using them in soups and roasting them so this is recipe is inspiring me. I love it!

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