Carrot-Parsnip Easter Cakes with Orange Cream Cheese Frosting

Last week, I had a pleasant surprise.  When teaching my young garden recruits, I had them taste parsnips at the end of the lesson.  We try to taste a seasonal vegetable each time we meet.  Since spring is so very late this year, and if we were truly eating locally, we’d be eating parsnips and wild nettles and very little else, I thought this would be a great new vegetable for my kids to try.  I didn’t expect the results.  Because I’m not a great fan of parsnips in their natural form, I figured my little munchkins wouldn’t be either.  Boy was I wrong!  I fried up some thinly sliced parsnip crisps and sprinkled them with a nice bit of salt and then brought along some raw parsnips to compare.  In two different groups, there was an astounding preference for the raw ones!  I was not only amazed but quite proud, since I really don’t want to encourage fried food amongst my young group!

While we’ve been eating quite a bit of parsnips these last few weeks, turning them into carrot-parsnip mini-cakes has got to be the best arrangement yet!  These are perfect for your Easter festivities, assuming you’ve forgotten to plan ahead today! If not, it’s still spring, and our greens are a bit behind, so go–try some parsnips.  I bet you’ve been missing out.

Carrot-Parsnip Mini-Cakes with Orange Cream Cheese Frosting, adapted from Dishing Up Oregon
Makes 5 jumbo size mini-cakes or about 10 regular mini-cakes.
1/2 cup raisins
1 1/2 Tbs. white or dark rum
1 cup whole-grain gluten free flour mix (or 1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour)
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. xanthan gum (omit if not making gluten-free)
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 plus 2 Tbs. grapeseed or canola oil
2 eggs or 2 flax eggs
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup finely grated peeled carrots (about 2 medium)
3/4 cup finely grated peeled parsnips (about 2 medium)
Orange Cream Cheese Frosting
4 ounces cream cheese
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. orange zest
1-2 tablespoons orange juice
  • Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.  Line five jumbo muffin tins.
  • Combine the raisins and the rum in a microwave-safe bowl.  Cover the bowl and microwave the raisins for about 30 seconds.  Uncover and set aside to cool.
  • Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, xanthan gum, cinnamon, and nutmeg together in a medium bowl.
  • Beat the brown sugar and grapeseed oil together on medium speed in the bowl of an electric mixer.  Add the eggs, one at a time.  Mix in the applesauce and vanilla.  Mix in the flour mixture, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed.
  • Fold in the carrots, parsnips, and 2/3 of the raisins until combined.  Fill the prepared muffin tins 3/4 full.  Bake until they are golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean, about 30 minutes.
  • Remove the cakes from the oven and cool slightly before removing from tin.  Set aside on a cooling rack to cool completely.
  • For the frosting:  Blend the cream cheese and butter in a medium bowl on medium speed. Mix in the vanilla, orange zest and one tablespoon orange juice.  Sift in the powdered sugar, beginning with 1 1/2 cups.  Add more as needed to reach desired consistency.  Add remaining tablespoon orange juice as needed.
  • Ice using a decorating tip or knife.  Top each cake with remaining raisins if desired, just prior to serving.
My Whole-Grain Gluten Free Flour Mix
2oo grams brown rice flour
200 grams millet flour
200 grams sorghum flour
100 grams buckwheat flour
150 grams tapioca starch
150 grams arrowroot starch
  • Sift all the flours together.  Use 1 cup for this recipe and save the remaining for other uses.