VPR Cafe: Parsnips Star In Award-Winning (And Gluten-Free!) Dessert

Apr 8, 2016

Parsnips are an often overlooked root vegetable though in the past they were a staple of New England gardens.

"Parsnips are great because they're so sweet," said Candace Page, a contributor to the Savovore Section of the Burlington Free Press. "That can draw in an audience that might not like them otherwise."

Spring is when parsnips are harvested because they actually get sweeter if they're left in the ground during the winter, said Page. When the parsnips are in frozen soil, the roots convert starches into sugars.

This year, during City Market's annual spring recipe contest they asked people the submit their best parsnip recipes. The staff whittled 62 entries down to three and they asked the public to sample and vote for the best recipe.

The winter was Jamie Holt's  Garlic Parsotto with parsnips crisps, a variation on risotto.

Find out more about the City Market contest and learn about Page's favorite recipe, the Parsnip Pecan Power Cake (recipe below), in her piece "Parsnip Cake Is Local Winner And It's Gluten-Free."

Nicandra Galper's Parsnip Pecan Power Cake

(Candace Page note: Almond flour is available at some stores and from King Arthur Flour in Norwich. The flour seemed a little clumpy, so I sifted it before adding to the bowl. I also toasted the pecans briefly to intensify their taste and crunchiness).

  • 1½ cups almond flour
  • ½  teaspoon sea salt
  • ½  teaspoon baking soda
  • ½  teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½  teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4  teaspoon ground cardamom divided
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
  • ½ cup maple syrup, divided
  • 1 ½ cups grated parsnip
  • ½ cup cooked and pureed parsnip
  • ½  cup pecans, chopped, plus 2 tablespoons for the top of the cake
  • ½ cup golden raisins
  • 2 tablespoons chopped crystallized ginger
  • 8 tablespoons softened butter
  • 8 ounces cream cheese

Grease an 8 x 8 baking pan and line with parchment paper.  Extend paper up two of the sides.

In a large bowl, combine almond flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and 1/8 teaspoon of cardamom. In a separate bowl whisk together eggs, oil, 1/4 cup maple syrup and pureed parsnip.

Stir grated parsnips, ½ cup of pecans, raisins and ginger into wet ingredients. Stir wet ingredients into dry.

Spread batter into prepared pan and bake at 325 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes. Cool to room temperature and then turn out of pan.

For the frosting, whip cream cheese and butter with hand mixer until smooth and blend in 1/4 cup maple syrup and 1/8 teaspoon cardamom. Top cake with cream cheese frosting and remaining chopped nuts.

The VPR Café is made possible by Otter Creek Kitchenware in downtown Middlebury, offering over 70 lines of kitchenware.