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Parsnip Tres Leches Cake with Clove and Nutmeg Buttercream

Slofoodgroup Team August 10, 2022

Tres Leches Cake with Parsnip and Buttercream

Tres leches cake is a soft sponge cake that is infused with a mixture of 3 types of milk (“tres leches”), which is absorbed into the cake overnight. We’ve tempered this very sweet cake with the addition of shredded parsnips, which also serve as decoration, along with bits of edible gold.

The parsnips pair beautifully with the lightly spiced buttercream frosting and we love this elegant take on a classic dessert!

Buttercream Tres Leches Cake with Clove and Edible Gold


For the Cake:

  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup canola or vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 cups loosely packed shredded parsnips
  • 4 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 6 tablespoons evaporated milk
  • 6 tablespoons sweetened condensed milk

For the Buttercream:

  • 1 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 vanilla bean, halved lengthwise
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg (powdered or from grated whole nutmeg)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves (powdered or from whole cloves ground in a coffee grinder)
  • 1-2 tablespoons milk

For the Candied Parsnip Curls:

  • 2 parsnips
  • 1 cup granulated sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
  • 1 cup water 
  • Edible gold


For the Cake:

1. Pre-heat the oven to 350°F. Line an 8” x 8” pan with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on all sides.

2. Beat the eggs until just combined, then add the sugar, oil, and vanilla and beat again. Add the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt and beat till well combined. Scrape down the sides and fold in the shredded parsnips. Pour into your prepared baking pan and bake till a toothpick tests clean, 25 – 35 minutes.

3. Set pan on a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes, while you make the tres leches topping: In a small bowl whisk the heavy cream, evaporated milk and sweetened condensed milk until smooth. Use a toothpick to poke holes at one-inch intervals across the top of the cake. Then, slowly pour the topping over, allowing the cake to absorb it before adding more. Let the cake cool completely and refrigerate it overnight.

For the buttercream:

1. Beat the sugar and butter until well combined. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the bowl, along with the nutmeg and cloves and 1 tablespoon of the milk and beat until smooth. Add more milk, a teaspoon at a time if needed, until a spreadable consistency is achieved. Frost the cake and return to the fridge to set.

For the the candied parsnip curls:

1. Pre-heat the oven to 225°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spray the paper with non-stick cooking spray.

2. Peel the parsnips and discard the outer peels. Use your peeler to create 20 – 30 long strips (you’ll want more than you need in case a few break).

3. Bring the sugar and water to a boil in a medium saucepan, stirring constantly until the sugar is dissolved. Add the parsnip strips, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and cool in the syrup for 10 minutes. Drain and lay on your prepared baking sheet, being careful to not let the strips touch or overlap.

4. Bake for 20 minutes. Place a wire rack set over a baking sheet.

5. Remove the pan from the oven, and working quickly, wrap one strip at a time around the handle of a wooden spoon, to create a curl. Slip it off of the handle and place on the wire rack.

6. Sprinkle with additional sugar (if the strips harden before you’ve curled them all, simply return to the oven for a few minutes to soften). Let dry for one hour.

To serve:

1. Decorate the cake with bits of edible gold and the candied parsnip curls.