Earning It

January 26, 2008 at 6:22 pm 22 comments

parsnip up close


I’d like to think I’m a fairly dedicated soul when it comes to leading a healthy lifestyle.  I eat lots of vegetables, snack mostly on nuts and pretzels instead of junk, and ride my bike a lot.  I also try to go to the gym over my lunch break every day. I’m not a fan of the corporate culture, but I do have to say I love having a company gym that makes winter workouts convenient.  But even with the treadmill a mere 15 steps from my cozy cube space, the “convenience” just wasn’t making an impression on me yesterday.  Fridays are always a tough day for discipline, aren’t they?  Instead of hitting the gym, I found myself daydreaming about dessert.  Woops. 

 Fresh organic eggs 


I couldn’t dispel the daydream all afternoon and found my feet shuffling towards the grocery store (instead of the gym) after work in search of ingredients for a recipe I’ve been concocting in my head all week.  Little did I know I wouldn’t need the gym to get my workout in the end… 



Ever since my parsnip soup post’s discussion about this underrated vegetable’s sweetness, I’ve been thinking about how to use them in a dessert.  I was thinking maybe scones or a quick bread.  But then I was struck by the idea of carrot-turned-parsnip cake.  I mean, it seemed so obvious that these two root vegetables could be used interchangeably.  So that was my plan.  Until Friday night’s cold walk to the grocery store, during which I decided I wasn’t in the mood for a carrot cake knock-off, at least not entirely. 

Cupcakes baking
Make your own cupcake/muffin liners using squares of wax paper


Wandering the aisles, narrowly missing first a baby stroller and then another shopper’s cart, I mulled over my options.  I definitely liked the idea of cake.  But gym-shirker that I was, I didn’t want anything too guilt-inducing.  I saw some ginger and the idea ball started rolling from there.  I decided to put together a relatively airy and warmly spiced batter to transport my parsnip into cupcakes (portion control, my friends, is what it’s all about) that I’d then top with a lighter version of cream cheese frosting accented by fresh ginger.  I think I had just uttered “eureka” in my head when literally I tripped over the shelf holding the raw sugar, which turned out to be the perfect decoration for these homespun treats. 

Cupcake gets outfitted


Wondering yet how it is that I got my workout?  It wasn’t terribly long, but it was demanding.  I’d never grated a parsnip before and if these cupcakes hadn’t turned out so darn delicious, I never would again.  Those things are tough!!  But the cupcakes are amazing, so it was worth the grueling upper body workout to get the couple cups of grated parsnip that I needed.  If you have that glorious luxury called a food processor, I’d advise using it.    

So that’s the story about how I got my workout and felt justified in satisfying my Friday night sweet tooth with a cupcake. 

Star cookie cutter helps make decorating easy


But there’s a bit of a story left yet behind the cupcake itself.  You see, I’ve created several original recipes, both on and off the blog.  However, this one is the first where I feel like I really stepped it up, gathering flavor profiles together in my mind and transposing them into an almost sublime sweet.  Since starting a food blog, I’ve been pushed to become more confident in the kitchen and have had lots of practice time with all the recipes that have found their way onto these pages.  Don’t get me wrong; I’m not patting myself on the back here for all the cyber world to see.  I’m actually kind of pleasantly surprised that I could conjur up with this cupcake creation.  But it does nonetheless feel like some sort of milestone. 

 Cupcakes All Dressed Up


I think I’ll celebrate with another cupcake!  After all, I’ve earned it. While I do that, tell me about your greatest success story in the kitchen…

I think I'll have this one...

Parsnip Spiced Cupcakes with Ginger Cream Cheese Frosting
A Straight from the Farm Original

2 c. grated parsnip (about 1 medium parsnip)
1 ¼ c. fat free milk
2 T. brown rice syrup
2 t. vanilla extract
¾ c. (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 ½ c. sugar
1 egg, room temperature
3 egg yolks, room temperature
2 c. flour
1 T. baking powder
1 ¼ t. freshly grated nutmeg
1 ½ t. ground cinnamon
½ t. ground cloves
¼ t. ground ginger
¼ t. ground allspice

8 oz. fat free cream cheese, room temperature
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
2-3 t. freshly grated ginger
2 c. sifted confectioners’ sugar
Raw sugar for decorating

In a bowl, combine the milk, rice syrup and vanilla.  Set aside.  Place egg and yolks in another small bowl and beat lightly.  Set aside.  Sift together the flour, baking powder and spices onto a sheet of parchment or wax paper.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs until well incorporated.  Add the milk mixture and stir well.  Fold in a half cup of the flour mixture at a time just until all the dry ingredients are moist.  Do not over mix. 

Place cupcake liners in muffin tins (you’ll need about 20-24) and preheat oven to 350 F.  Fill cupcake liners about ¾ full.  Bake for 18-20 minutes or until golden brown and springy to the touch.  Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack. 

To make frosting, whip together the cream cheese and butter.  Add the ginger and mix well.  Slowly add the sugar and then beat until light and fluffy.  Let chill for at least 15 minutes while cupcakes cool. 

To decorate, spread frosting over cupcakes and use a piping bag to create different designs if desired.  Use the raw sugar to decorate by sprinkling over entire top of a cupcake or create shapes using small cookie cutters (see picture). Store in an airtight container. 

(makes about 2 dozen)

Parsnip Cupcakes with Ginger Cream Cheese Frosting

Entry filed under: Recipes, Sweet Treats. Tags: , , , , , .

A Ruta What? Week of Bread: The Basics

22 Comments Add your own

  • 1. davidrochester  |  January 27, 2008 at 2:22 am

    Wow. I’ve never seen parsnips used so creatively in a recipe. I’m impressed.

  • 2. gintoino  |  January 27, 2008 at 4:52 am

    Ok, now you have convinced me! I’m definitely going to order some parsnip seeds for my vegetable garden. Meanwhile I think I will try the recipe with a large carrot, what do you think? I know the flavor wont be the same but I think carrot goes very well with nutmeg and spices too. The only thing from the list I don’t recognize is the “allspice thing” Is it a mixture of spices? What spices? Can I replace it for something else?
    Remembered some other sweet things you can try . Pão de Ló de Aveiro, you may be able to find it up north (its a type of very wet sponge cake, you almost need a spoon to eat it). And if you go to Sintra (I strongly advice it) be sure to go to “Piriquita”, a pastry shop that sells some of the best “travesseiros” and “queijadas”. Oh, and go visit the “Palacio da Pena” (one of two palaces in Sintra “http://www.aerodromo-cascais.pt/foto_x.jpg”). You can also visit “A Quinta da Regaleira” (beautifull gardens and architecture http://farm1.static.flickr.com/52/134305823_32f6d32ef4.jpg)

  • 3. Joel  |  January 27, 2008 at 8:03 am

    Oh dear! Brilliant!

    My greatest success story? Two eggs over easy, a side of toast, and some frozen hash. It won me my Monkey 🙂

  • 4. Jennie  |  January 27, 2008 at 12:10 pm

    David – Thanks! 🙂

    Joel – I was curious about your Monkey comment so I stopped by your blog…what a cute comment/story! 🙂

  • 5. Jennie  |  January 27, 2008 at 12:11 pm

    Gintoino – I’m thrilled that you’ll be planting parsnips next season! I can’t wait to see pictures of them growing on your blog. 🙂 About the “allspice” – it actually is an individual spice (not a blend) that is ground from hard berries similar to juniper, if you know what those look like. Allspice tastes a lot like a combination of cloves and cinnamon so if you can’t find it, just increase both of those in the recipe… I’d say 1/2 teaspoon of cloves and a scant 2 teaspoons of cinnamon.

    Gosh, my list of “must eat these things in Portugal” is getting awfully long, thanks to you! I love the idea of a very wet sponge cake that needs to be eaten with a spoon! I’m definitely spending a day in Sintra so will stop by that pastry shop. I was already determined to see Sintra but those photos you included were breath-taking so now I can hardly wait to see the place for myself. Did you take those? Bravo, if you did! 🙂

  • 6. gintoino  |  January 27, 2008 at 4:56 pm

    I was eating a wild asparagus risoto with queijo da ilha (a type of portuguese cheese) when I remembered I haven’t suggested any cheeses. I know the list is getting toooooo long but hey, this way you’ll have lots to chose from (I can’t help it if I like to eat and like to suggest food to others 😉 ). So here goes the cheese list: Queijo da serra (queijo means cheese) which is the most famous of all Portuguese cheeses, its a soft buttery cheese made of sheep’s milk, queijo da ilha (made in Azores) is a hard cheese made of cow’s milk and queijo de serpa wich is made in Alentejo (south Portugal) also soft and made of sheep’s milk.
    Well, that’s it for now, I’ll be back with more suggestions if I remember something else, (be back even if I don’t have any more suggestions 😉 )

  • 7. Nif  |  January 28, 2008 at 11:57 am

    My Fanny Farmer cookbook has a recipe for parsnip pie. It’s similar to pumpkin pie, but has lots of honey in it. Thanksgiving guests make puzzled faces but they eat it!

  • 8. erik_flannestad  |  January 28, 2008 at 12:35 pm

    Jennie, that’s genius! I’m going to have to make a carrot/parsnip cake this weekend.

    By the way, I hear they have these cool new devices called Cuisinarts and Robot Coupes that have disk attachments. I bet they would make grating parsnips (or carrots) a lot easier than struggling with a box grater…


    I just hope a Rutabaga cake isn’t next!

  • 9. Jennie  |  January 28, 2008 at 1:11 pm

    Gintoino – Oh dear, I’m going to come back from Portugal needing a whole new set of clothes to accomodate my growing belly! Cheese is my weakness!! Queijo da serra sounds wonderful!

  • 10. Jennie  |  January 28, 2008 at 1:12 pm

    Nif – Really, a whole pie made of parsnip?? Wow, that’s even more inventive than my cupcakes considering the cupcakes mask the secret ingredient fairly well, whereas the pie would be one very bold parsnip statement! How does it taste? Like pumpkin pie, or does it just look like it? Inquiring minds what to know! 🙂

  • 11. Jennie  |  January 28, 2008 at 1:15 pm

    Erik – I sense some sarcasim… 😉 Yes, one of these days I’ll buy into the trendy Cuisinart. But there’s something gratifying (for the first two minutes, not the last eight or nine) about using some old-fashion elbow grease in the kitchen. Let me know how your parsnip cake comes out.

    Funny you should mention rutabaga…. I’m toying with baking with them too! No joke! 🙂

  • 12. erik_flannestad  |  January 28, 2008 at 4:18 pm

    Not really “sarcasm,” more of “good natured ribbing.”

    I have to admit I haven’t bought into the need for one of those trendy food processor type things yet either.

    Elbow grease is always more satisfying!


  • 13. Jennie  |  January 28, 2008 at 4:31 pm

    So true, Erik, so true! 🙂 And I most certainly did not mind the good natured ribbing. 🙂

  • 14. erik_flannestad  |  January 31, 2008 at 7:36 pm

    By the way, Jennie, if you didn’t feel like cupcakes, what size cake pan would this recipe fit in?

  • 15. Jennie  |  January 31, 2008 at 9:09 pm

    Erik – I think I’d use two 8-inch round pans personally, but it would also work in an 11 x 7 sheet pan. You’ll tell me how yours turns out, right?? 🙂

  • 16. Underhill-Lounge » BOTW–Hairy Eyeball  |  February 3, 2008 at 6:42 pm

    […] related turn, Jennifer over at Straight From the Farm had recently had the brainstorm to make a Parsnip Cake. When I mentioned this to Mrs. Underhill, she got pretty excited about it. We both really like […]

  • 17. erik_flannestad  |  February 4, 2008 at 11:51 am

    Jennie… The parsnip cake turned out quite delicious. The only things I did different was to use Lyle’s Golden Syrup instead of Brown Rice Syrup and 1% Milk instead of fat free. As for grating the parsnip, that’s a lot easier than creaming the butter and sugar by hand. Now that’s a workout!

  • 18. Jennie  |  February 4, 2008 at 12:00 pm

    Erik – Thanks for the report! 🙂 Those substitutions sound spot-on. In fact, I was going to make mine with King’s Syrup originally but then thought I’d try to make it a tad more healthy with the rice syrup. Did you make the frosting too? Creaming the butter and sugar can be challenging but I guess that motion is easier for me than the up and down of the grating. I am pretty used to going in circles after all… 😉

  • 19. cupcakeproject  |  February 7, 2008 at 1:49 pm

    Those are great! Congrats on your success. Love the idea!

  • 20. Sweet Tenderness « Straight from the Farm  |  February 4, 2009 at 8:35 am

    […] thinking up this recipe, I was most definitely inspired by the batch of parsnip cupcakes I made last winter.  I wanted these cakes to be similarly warm in their spices and lusciously moist, but coy about […]

  • […] Ricotta Pizza and the Roasted Sweet Potato and Cauliflower Mash and the Fresh Fig Compote and the Parsnip Spiced Cupcakes with Ginger Cream Cheese Frosting and the….   well, you get the idea.  I kind of have this all planned out, ya […]

  • 22. Winter Harvest Bundt Cake « Straight from the Farm  |  February 15, 2010 at 4:35 pm

    […] little brain child of mine was inspired by a recipe two winters ago that I conjured up for Parsnip Spiced Cupcakes.   I had more parsnips in my crisper drawer this winter, and I remembered how big a hit those […]


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