Diets mk2 & Parsnip Cupcakes


As January comes to pass I still find myself staring down the barrel of diet recipes.  What started out as a throw-away comment within my first Evening Post article regarding a cake based diet recently coming out of Australia has turned into a month of diet based madness!

The local TV network, Notts TV had me appear within 24 hours of the article being posted to ask me if this was indeed serious and if I thought such a thing could exist.  I attempted a recipe from the very same diet plan I had written about the day before only to find it was perhaps the strangest, least cake-like thing to ever come out of my oven.  I mean, it contained sweet potato, dates and NO fat of any kind! In a frantic rush before I was due to be on air I quickly knocked up another tea loaf as so not to arrive empty handed.

This got me thinking though.  Could I make a cake that contains the main textures & flavours that I would expect without using my normal truck load of sugar and butter?  When searching online I found most “diet” cake were based on the traditional fruit cake, much like my tea loaf.  Although tasty, this doesn’t hit that gooey & fudgy texture I love so much.

Using a carrot cake as a base, I swapped out the main ingredient with parsnips as they are so much sweeter and then added honey to compliment.  With the addition of grated apple to provide moisture and orange to give a lovely citrus zing this cake has a texture not to dissimilar to a blondie without tasting like a trip round the farmers market.  It’s amazing!

Although this still contains a good quantity of both sugar and butter (you could substitute for Low-fat spread if you must) I find baking them as small cupcakes reduces my total cake intake whilst also providing vital vegetables into my diet!  Win-win all round!

So, give this recipe a go.  It really will surprise you how much it works.  Honest!



175g butter

250g soft brown sugar

100ml clear honey

3 large eggs

250g self-raising flour

2 tsp baking powder

2 tsp mixed spice

250g parsnips, peeled and grated

1 medium eating apple, peeled, cored and grated

50g pecans, roughly chopped

zest and juice 1 large orange

For the filling

250g tub mascarpone

3-4 tbsp clear honey

150g crushed pecans, to decorate


Pre-heat the oven to 180c and grease a loose bottom cupcake tin or two 9” cake tins well with butter.  If using 9” tins then line the bases with non-stick paper.

Place the butter, sugar and honey into a pan over a low heat until melted together in a molasses like way.  Place to the side to cool slightly.

Once cooled, whisk in the eggs followed by the flour, baking powder and mixed spice.

Add the parsnips, apples, orange zest\juice and pecans to the mix and stir well to combine.

Use an ice cream scoop to spoon equal amounts of cake mixture into the cake tin then place in the oven for 20mins.  Remove from the oven a place on a cooling rack for 5 mins.

Remove from the tin and leave to cool completely whilst you make the topping.

For the topping:  combine the mascarpone & honey and stir to combine.  Add more honey as necessary until you reach a level of sweetness that you enjoy.

Spread each cupcake with a small amount of frosting then gently roll the edges in the crushed pecans.

The soft, squidgy nature of the cakes will allow them to be kept for a good few days as long as they are stored correctly.  Once the cheese topping goes on though, they must be kept in the fridge to keep from going mankey.

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