I've got my eye on something that isn't a big white carrot...the Parsnip.
This is one root vegetable that I can't say that I'm too fond of in what is regarded as its "traditional" use but I'll delve into that later.
Parsnips are high in Vitamins C and K along with Calcium, Fibre, Folate, Iron, Manganese and Potassium. The high levels of potassium make them useful in reducing blood pressure.
An interesting historical aside is that Parsnip, up until about 200 years ago was eaten as a sweet, in fact the word "nip" referred to sweet items. This new found knowledge imparted at the "Desserts of the Future" dinner at Fenix - home to that magnificent basil ice-cream.
As much as I would love to recreate the parsnip dessert featured that night, you're going to have to be satisfied with this recipe by Liz Franklin in her book Quick Breads for a Chocolate and Parsnip Loaf!
Now, don't write it off - believe me this is a bread worth making. I think the whole key to its success lies in the molasses - one taste of the batter before adding the shredded parsnip and chocolate chips put the whole recipe in context. There are notes in the flavour of molasses that compliment the parsnip. The bread also cooks for a long time so all the sugars get to caramelise and what you end up with is this rich and dark loaf that will get your mind thinking as well as satisfying those cravings.
Chocolate and Parsnip Loaf
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda/baking soda
200ml melted butter, cooled
350 grams caster sugar
100 grams black treacle/molasses
3 eggs, lightly beaten
100 grams dark chocolate chips
200 grams grated parsnip
Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F and line a 1kg/2lb capacity loaf pan.
Sift the flour with the baking powder and baking soda and place into a large bowl.
In another bowl add the melted butter, sugar, treacle and eggs and beat until smooth and amalgamated. Pour this into the dry ingredients, stirring well to combine.
Stir through the chocolate chips followed by the grated parsnip.
Spoon this into the prepared pan, smoothing the surface - give the pan a couple of taps to ensure the mix has spread out evenly.
Bake for about 70 minutes or until well risen and golden.
Let it sit in the tin for 20 minutes before turning it out onto a wire rack to cool.
This is very moist bread and it isn't overly sweet, the molasses gives it a hint of bitterness as do the dark chocolate chips. The parsnip in my mind is a textural element, it's clearly visible as the light wiggles that run through the bread. This would be great toasted for breakfast, perhaps with some honey and matches well to coffee.