Summer produce, especially fruit, seems to get all the love.
Super fresh melons, peaches and berries only need a drizzle of cream to go from "after-school snack" to "dessert," but winter produce needs a little more love to transform into decadent treats.
Boston author Tammy Donroe Inman’s new book, "Wintersweet: Seasonal Desserts to Warm the Home" by Tammy Donroe Inman (Running Press, $30), focuses exclusively on comforting cold weather desserts that are perfect for this time of year. Yes, you’ll find plenty of flavors of fall (pear cranberry clafouti, cinnamon date ice cream), but also some surprising creations for this sleepy time of year when spring is still just beyond our grasp, such as grapefruit bars, spicy Mexican chocolate cake and vanilla bread pudding made with dried cherries and brandy.
Inman uses root vegetables in a number of recipes, including chocolate beet whoopie pies, but I really liked this spin on carrot cake.
Parsnip Spice Cupcakes with Maple Frosting
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.
— Tammy Donroe Inman
4 to 6 parsnips
1 cup vegetable oil
1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3 large eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 Tbsp. ground coriander
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp. salt
For the frosting:
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 oz. cream cheese (not light), at room temperature
5 Tbsp. confectioners’ sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. 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. Makes about 15 cupcakes.
— From "Wintersweet: Seasonal Desserts to Warm the Home" by Tammy Donroe Inman (Running Press, $30)