Apologies, resolvers: this is my third dessert post in a row—or my fifth, if you consider spiked cider a dessert. But this dessert is different! It’s made with VEGETABLES. And therefore is nutritionally equivalent to a salad.
Okay, fine—its closest relative is a carrot cake, not a salad. Everyone who tasted this cake could tell that it wasn’t carrot and yet had no idea what it was actually made of. Somehow we’ve become accustomed to carrots in desserts, but other sweet rooty vegetables in desserts are unsettling. Suddenly you think about how odd it is to have a cake with carrots in it—and how much more odd it is that no one thinks it’s odd at all. Swapping parsnips for carrots makes the familiar strange, and even more delicious.
Or perhaps I’m just obsessed with parsnips these days. If you have extra after making the cake, I recommend pureeing them with olive oil and sage—they turn into a sweeter and more nutritious version of mashed potatoes—or perhaps roasting them with chicken and carrots. But make the cake first.
Parsnip spice cake with ginger cream cheese frosting
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon plus 1/8 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon ground allspice
3/4 teaspoon ground cloves
3 large eggs
1/2 cup canola oil or vegetable oil
1/2 cup whole milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract, divided
2 cups (packed) shredded peeled parsnips (about 3 large)
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted, chopped
4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
2 teaspoons grated peeled fresh ginger
3 cups (about 12 ounces) powdered sugar
Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour 13x9x2-inch baking pan.
Combine flour, sugar, ground ginger, baking powder, cinnamon, 3/4 teaspoon salt, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves in large bowl; whisk to combine. Whisk eggs, oil, milk, and 1 teaspoon vanilla in medium bowl to combine. Pour egg mixture over dry ingredients; stir until just combined. Stir in parsnips and walnuts.
Transfer batter to prepared pan. Bake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Cool cake completely in pan on rack.
Beat cream cheese and butter in large bowl until smooth. Beat in fresh ginger and remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla. Gradually add powdered sugar and beat until frosting is smooth. Spread over cake. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.)