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Parsnip Spice Cupcakes with Maple Frosting

Parsnip Spice Cupcakes with Maple Frosting
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I love carrot cake, so why not parsnip cake? But the idea never even occurred to me, until I received this gorgeous book by local food writer Tammy Donroe Inman.

WINTERSWEET: Seasonal Desserts to Warm the Home © 2013 by Tammy Donroe Inman, Running Press, a member of the Perseus Books Group.

WINTERSWEET: Seasonal Desserts to Warm the Home © 2013 by Tammy Donroe Inman, Running Press, a member of the Perseus Books Group.

Tammy’s book is full of beautiful recipes, from the chocolate-pomegranate pavlova on the cover to butterscotch bourbon bread pudding, chocolate chip cheesecake squares and pear cranberry clafouti. I love the focus on winter flavors—all the cozy things you crave when the temperature drops. The photos are gorgeous and the recipes are reliably great (Tammy is an alum of America’s Test Kitchen).

She was kind enough to share the following recipe with us.


Photo by Steve Legato

Parsnip Spice Cupcakes with Maple Frosting

Total time: 1 hour
Hands-on time: 40 minutes
Makes: About 15 cupcakes

Carrot cake is outrageously popular—so why not parsnip cake? Parsnips are just as sweet, if not sweeter, than their more popular orange cousins. Even better, the neutral white color of grated parsnips sneaks under the radar of vegetable-averse children (pro tip: don’t mention the parsnips until later). I’ve played around with the spicing, adding ground coriander and cardamom to more traditional spices like cinnamon and nutmeg to complement this vegetable’s unique flavor. Adding maple syrup to the frosting makes them completely irresistible.

Ingredients for the cake:

  • 4 to 6 (230 g) parsnips
  • 1 cup (250 ml) vegetable oil
  • 11/3 cups (260 g) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (115 g) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 cups (280 g) all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Ingredients for the frosting:

  • 4 tablespoons (60 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 4 ounces (110 g) cream cheese (not light), at room temperature
  • 5 tablespoons (38 g) confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) maple syrup (preferably Grade B)
  • 1/4 cup (30 g) chopped walnuts


Preheat the oven to 350ºF (175ºC). Line two cupcake pans with 15 paper liners.

Grate the parsnips with a box grater by holding each peeled parsnip upside-down and rubbing the sides against the large holes of the grater. The central core of some parsnips can be woody and tough. In that case, just grate one side until you hit the core (you will feel more resistance), then rotate and repeat on the remaining sides. Discard the cores. You should have about 2 cups of grated parsnips.

In a large bowl, whisk together the oil, sugar, melted butter, and vanilla. Whisk in the eggs, one at a time. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices, and salt. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until combined. Fold in the grated parsnips. Spoon the batter into the 15 muffin cups just shy of the rims. Bake the cupcakes for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the centers have set. Remove the pans from the oven and let the cupcakes cool completely.

For the frosting, in the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and cream cheese until smooth. Sift the confectioners’ sugar on top of the butter mixture and continue to beat until no lumps remain. Add the maple syrup and whip well. Frost the cupcakes and sprinkle them with chopped walnuts if desired. The cupcakes can be stored covered in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days.

Amy Traverso


Amy Traverso


Senior lifestyle editor Amy Traverso oversees Yankee's Food and Home & Garden departments and contributes articles to the magazine. Amy book, The Apple Lover's Cookbook (W.W. Norton), won an International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP) cookbook award for the category American. Follow !
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