whaddya think ya doing? – winter ‘carrot’ cake

whaddya think ya doing? – 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


Parsnip Cake
  • 1 cup (5 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup (about 2-1/2 ounces) whole almonds with skin, grounded or almond flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/2 cup (3-12 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 cup (4 ounces) packed light brown sugar
  • 3 large egg, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon pure vani!la extract
  • 12 tablespoons (6 ounces/1-1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 cups grated parsnip
Citrus Cream Cheese Frosting
  • 3/4 pound cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 12 tablespoons (6 ounces/1-1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 cups (8 ounces) 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


Parsnip Cake

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.

Citrus Cream Cheese Frosting

1. 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.

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