Skip to content

Spiced Parsnip Pecan Cupcakes

March 1, 2009


I was having coffee with a friend the other day, and she was raving about a parsnip cake she recently had at a local restaurant. “Parsnip, you say? How delicious! How timely!” I said (or something to that effect.) Because, you see, even though our winter CSA share ended this past week, we have parsnips coming out our ears. And I’m looking for any – any – new way to cook with them. There’s only so many roasted parsnips, glazed parsnips, and parsnip soup you can eat without going a little parsnip bonkers.

shred the parsnips


But parsnips in a cake? Fantastic idea. I decided to make cupcakes, and mixed some chopped toasted pecans into the batter (because I just love the alliteration in “parsnip pecan.”)

lovely spice colors



And if you, like me, enjoy spice cakes, you’ll love these cupcakes. They’re moist with a tender crumb, and similar to carrot cake in that the shredded parsnip moistens the cake.

round and chubby


smooth and tangy


And, just like carrot cake and spice cakes, these cupcakes are perfect topped with a swirl of cream cheese frosting. Lately I’ve been drawn to piping a thick swirl of frosting on the tops of cupcakes (using an Ateco 808 pastry tip) — there’s just something kind of whimsical about the plump curlicue, no?

I’m all about the swirl


cupcakes on parade


A little dusting of cinnamon and a toasted pecan crowned the little cuties, and into my  mouth they marched! Talk about a parsnip salvation.

hello, cutie



Spiced Parsnip Pecan Cupcakes

view printable recipe


For the cupcakes (Adapted from Bon Appetit, March 2006)

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour [or, you can do as I did and substitute half whole wheat pastry flour]
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3/4 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 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups (packed) shredded peeled parsnips
1/2 cup pecans, toasted, chopped, plus 12 whole toasted pecans for topping the cupcakes
cinnamon, for dusting

For the cream cheese frosting (From Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan.)
8 oz cream cheese (full fat), at room temperature
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 3/4 cups confectioner’s sugar (powdered sugar)
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice


Make the cupcakes:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, and line a standard muffin pan with muffin cups.

Whisk together the dry ingredients (flour through cloves) in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, oil and vanilla, then pour the liquid mixture over the dry ingredients and stir just until combined. Stir in the shredded parsnips and chopped pecans.

Fill each muffin cup with the batter and bake for 23-25 minutes, until the tops spring back when gently pressed (or a tester inserted into the middle of one comes out clean.) Cool the cupcakes 5 minutes in the pan, then remove them to a cooling rack and let cool completely.

Make the frosting:
In the electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and butter together until smooth and creamy. Gradually add the sugar and continue beating until the frosting is velvety smooth. Beat in the lemon juice.

Frost the cupcakes however you like. Dust the tops with cinnamon, and top with a toasted pecan.

Makes 12.

31 Comments leave one →
  1. March 1, 2009 7:53 pm

    wow, i don’t utilize parsnips enough. these look amazing. in fact, i’ll take one for dessert 🙂

  2. March 1, 2009 11:41 pm

    Such cute cupcakes! You really did a great job with the frosting.

  3. March 2, 2009 3:13 am

    What a creative and delicious idea! Your cupcakes turned out beautifully–and I can never say no to cream cheese frosting! Looks like you’ve found a great way to use up some of those parsnips.

  4. March 2, 2009 6:40 am

    Hi Amy – I’ve got a load of parsnips in my bin as well and this is a great idea, I love it when we can make vegetables a sweet treat – I might try a parsnip/carrot combo!

  5. March 2, 2009 6:52 am

    These are gorgeous, Amy! Not to mention creative and a brand new vehicle for cream cheese frosting (one can never have enough).

    About the remaining parsnips coming out of your ears — we just had pickled parsnips the other night. Perhaps you could take your parsnip bonkers-ness in that direction?

  6. March 2, 2009 7:58 am

    Okay these are the cutest little cupcakes I have ever seen. Love the idea of using parsnip and they could not be decorated any more beautifully.

  7. Betsy permalink
    March 2, 2009 2:59 pm

    Those cupcakes are adorable!

  8. oneordinaryday permalink
    March 2, 2009 3:57 pm

    Wow. I’ve really underrated the parsnip! I guess it works like zucchini in zucchini bread, right? Very good to know! Thank you!

  9. March 2, 2009 7:12 pm

    Simply adorable and alliterative to boot. Great work. Wish I hadn’t sworn off desserts for Lent now.

  10. Allison permalink
    March 2, 2009 8:00 pm

    I think I have to get that 808 pastry tip… love that swirl!

  11. March 2, 2009 8:38 pm

    I was a little apprehensive about the parsnip in a cupcake at first, but you have convinced me. This looks and sounds great. I love all the spices you used, and the frosting swirls are very impressive.

  12. March 2, 2009 11:31 pm

    gorgeous! wonderful! and, oh, the icing!!!thanks, I don’t need the recipe – I’ll just eat the pictures.

  13. March 3, 2009 12:31 am

    These cupcakes look delicious! As does everything else on your site! Yummo!

  14. March 3, 2009 4:00 am

    What a great use of parsnip.

  15. March 3, 2009 8:30 am

    how creative! the icing looks lovely, as does the toasted pecan on top! i’m so intrigued by the parsnip flavor!!

  16. March 3, 2009 12:31 pm

    LOL! Hello, indeed! I’ll take one please! I’ve never had parsnips let alone in a cupcake. 🙂

    Really terrific photos. Yes, I’m lovin’ the swirl, too.

  17. March 4, 2009 8:37 pm

    I never in a million years would have thought to put parsnips in cupcakes! Great idea!

  18. March 5, 2009 11:11 am

    I love carrot cake so I see no reason why I shouldn’t love this too! Looks great!

  19. March 5, 2009 6:03 pm

    WOW. that is a ridiculously awesome and inspirational cupcake. I love recipe sites like yours that have original and fabulous looking foods that challenge others like us to be more fun with our food!!! 🙂 Thank you!!!

  20. Dee permalink
    March 6, 2009 10:24 am

    I’m off to bake this wonderful recipe right now!

  21. March 6, 2009 6:28 pm

    These are so beautiful! They turned out wonderfully – bet they taste just like they look.

  22. March 8, 2009 9:26 am

    Great idea, and they look so cute too!

  23. March 8, 2009 11:10 am

    I love parsnips, but I’ve never used them in a sweet application. These cupcakes are beautiful!

  24. Arwen permalink
    March 9, 2009 8:31 pm

    What a great way to eat up your parsnips. The spices sound great. Lovely presentation too 🙂

  25. Rachel permalink
    March 10, 2009 12:42 pm

    Mmmmm, yummy! I bet this would be fantastic in a sweet bread, too.

    I keep wanting to try out this recipe that uses pureed parsnips to make something similar to a humus or a baba ghanouj. You just puree the parsnips with some garlic, raw pine nuts, and olive oil, and then you stream in some water to tweak the consistency. Hope this helps with your parsnip madness!

  26. March 10, 2009 8:57 pm

    These are beautiful! I adore parsnips and think they’re underused for sure. What a great idea to put them in a cupcake. Will have to try this–thanks.

  27. March 11, 2009 12:04 pm

    They look great – especially that thick cream cheese icing. I love you cupcake cases!

  28. March 13, 2009 7:00 am

    Thanks, everyone!

    Kristin – pickled parsnips are a great idea…yum!

    Rachel – ooh, that sounds intriguing.

    Lucy – thanks; they’re just silicone muffin cups, but they’re definitely useful and cheery in color, to boot. 🙂

  29. December 4, 2009 6:20 pm

    This is one amazing looking recipe. These ingredients look so good and I love the delicious, complex taste of parsnips. I can’t wait to try it.

  30. Jennifer permalink
    August 26, 2010 4:14 pm

    Your cream cheese looks like it holds up well and isn’t runny. I am going to try it, all of the cream cheese frosting that I have attempted to make are too runny and run right off of the cupcakes or cake!

  31. May 21, 2011 8:54 pm

    made a small batch with mascarpone frosting, delish!!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: