Parsnip-Buttermilk Tart

This creamy dessert is made with a surprising ingredient—parsnips. The recipe, by Kaley Laird, the executive pastry chef at Asheville, North Carolina's James Beard Award-nominated restaurant Benne on Eagle, will surprise everyone around the table when you ask them to name the secret ingredient. The often-overlooked root vegetable has a subtle sweetness that tastes great in the tart filling (which flavored with brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg), and pairs well with Pan-Roasted Apples and a Spiced Apple Butter topping. The crust, made with pecans, graham crackers, and cacao nibs for a hint of chocolate, is something special too. Laird makes the Spiced Apple Butter from scratch and while it is heavenly (she adds bourbon!), you can also save some time in the kitchen and use a good-quality jarred apple butter for the topping instead. If you do follow her recipe, you will have about 3 ½ cups of leftover Spiced Apple Butter, which you can spread on toast, swirl into oatmeal, or enjoy however you like.

Parsnip-Buttermilk Tart with Spice Apple Butter
Photo: Peter Frank Edwards; Prop Styling: Kendra Surface; Food Styling: Anna Hampton
Active Time:
45 mins
Bake Time:
35 mins
Cool Time:
1 hrs
Total Time:
2 hrs 20 mins



  • ¾ cup graham cracker crumbs (from 1 [13 ½-oz.] pkg.)

  • ½ cup finely chopped pecans

  • ¼ cup cacao nibs

  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar

  • teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1 large egg white, beaten

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted


  • 8 ounces fresh parsnips, chopped (1 ½ cups)

  • 1 cup whole milk

  • 1 large egg

  • ¾ cup whole buttermilk

  • ¼ cup plus 2 Tbsp. packed light brown sugar

  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt

  • teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • teaspoon ground nutmeg

Pan-Roasted Apples

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter

  • 2 medium-size Honeycrisp apples, unpeeled, cored, and sliced (about 3 cups)

  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar

  • 1 rosemary sprig

  • 1 (3- x 1-inch) lemon peel strip (from 1 lemon)

Additional Ingredient


  1. Prepare the Crust: Preheat oven to 325°F. Coat a 10-inch tart pan with a removable bottom with cooking spray. Stir together cracker crumbs, pecans, cacao nibs, brown sugar, and salt in a medium bowl. Stir in egg white and melted butter until combined. Spread mixture evenly in prepared tart pan, pushing into bottom and up sides of pan. Bake until set, about 15 minutes. Remove from oven; cool at least 15 minutes or up to 2 hours.

  2. Meanwhile, prepare the Filling: Bring parsnips and milk to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium. Boil, stirring occasionally, until tender, 10 to 12 minutes. Pour mixture through a fine mesh strainer into a heatproof bowl; reserve strained milk. Place parsnips in a blender. Secure lid on blender, and remove center piece to allow steam to escape. Place a clean towel over opening. Process until smooth, about 1 minute, adding ½ cup to 1 cup strained milk until mixture is smooth. Measure parsnip puree to 1 cup. Discard remaining puree and strained milk, or reserve for another use. Whisk together parsnip puree, egg, buttermilk, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a large bowl until smooth.

  3. Pour Filling into cooled Crust. Place tart on a large rimmed baking sheet, and bake at 325°F until set, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack; let cool completely, about 1 hour. Remove tart from pan.

  4. While the tart cools, prepare the Pan-Roasted Apples: Melt butter in a 10-inch cast-iron skillet over medium-high. Continue cooking, undisturbed, until light brown, about 2 minutes. Add apples, brown sugar, rosemary sprig, and lemon peel strip. Stir together, and spread mixture in an even layer. Transfer to oven, and bake at 325°F until tender, about 20 minutes. Remove and discard rosemary and lemon peel.

  5. Dollop Spiced Apple Butter onto tart, and top with Pan-Roasted Apples.

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