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Spice Cake with Caramel Icing

Photography: Randy Mayor; Styling: Lydia DeGaris-Pursell
Yield 18 servings (serving size: 1 slice)
One way to make certain you get your veggies is to put them in a cake. Just like carrots do for carrot cake, parsnips make this aromatic spice cake moist.


  • Cake:
  • 1 pound (1-inch-thick) slices peeled parsnip
  • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 5 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup apple juice
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup 1% low-fat milk
  • Cooking spray
  • Icing:
  • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup 1% low-fat milk
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups sifted powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted

Nutrition Information

  • calories 309
  • caloriesfromfat 17 %
  • fat 6 g
  • satfat 3 g
  • monofat 2 g
  • polyfat 0.6 g
  • protein 3.2 g
  • carbohydrate 61.8 g
  • fiber 2.1 g
  • cholesterol 12 mg
  • iron 1.7 mg
  • sodium 303 mg
  • calcium 59 mg

How to Make It

  1. To prepare cake, preheat oven to 350°.

  2. Place the parsnip in a saucepan; cover with water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer over medium heat 20 minutes or until tender. Drain.

  3. Place the parsnip, 1 cup brown sugar, granulated sugar, 5 tablespoons butter, and 1 teaspoon vanilla in a food processor, and process until smooth, scraping sides of bowl occasionally. With the processor on, slowly add apple juice through the food chute, processing until well combined. Place the parsnip mixture in a large bowl.

  4. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and 1/2 teaspoon salt, stirring well with a whisk. Add flour mixture and 3/4 cup milk alternately to parsnip mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Pour batter into 2 (9-inch) round cake pans lightly coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans 10 minutes on a wire rack; remove from pans. Cool completely on wire rack.

  5. To prepare icing, combine 1 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup milk, 2 tablespoons butter, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. Reduce heat, and simmer until slightly thick (about 5 minutes), stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Add powdered sugar and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla; beat with a mixer at medium speed until icing is smooth and only slightly warm. (Icing will continue to thicken as it cools.)

  6. Place 1 cake layer on a plate. Working quickly, spread the layer with half of the icing, and top with the remaining layer. Spread the remaining icing over the top layer, and sprinkle with toasted pecans. Cool to room temperature. Store cake loosely covered in the refrigerator.