Parsnip and Pistachio Biscuits

My Twitter friend Sandra Heinze used her Baking With Vegetables cookbook to make these sweet (NOT savoury!) biscuits. I’ve altered the recipe to be gluten-free, scaled it up, and changed the spicing.

The dough needs overnight chilling in the fridge before baking.

Makes: 6 dozen cookies (but it’s easily halved)



  • 4 parsnips, peeled (about 300g, weighed after peeling)
  • 1 tablespoon + of milk
  • 360g gluten-free flour, plus extra for rolling and slicing
  • 100g icing sugar
  • 1 orange, 1/2 of finely grated zest only
  • 1 unwaxed lemon, 1/2 of finely grated zest only
  • 1/8 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground cardamom (about 5-6 whole green cardamom pods, seeds removed and heartily crushed)
  • 1/4 tsp ground mace (or ground nutmeg / about 5 seconds’ grating of fresh nutmeg)
  • 225g unsalted butter, cubed and softened
  • 75g skinned, unsalted pistachio nuts, finely chopped (see footnote)
  • 150g dark baking chocolate (at least 70% cocoa solids), broken into squares – optional (see footnote)


  • Mortar & pestle (if crushing cardamom seeds)
  • Steamer
  • A large mixing bowl
  • An electric mixer (hand-held or stand)
  • A food processor with a mixing (not chopping) blade
  • Clingfilm
  • Two baking trays
  • Baking/parchment paper
  • Cooling rack
  • Small saucepan with a small bowl that fits over – optional


  1. Chop the peeled parsnips into medium chunks and steam for 10-12 minutes over simmering water, until well softened. Drain thoroughly, put into a large mixing bowl, and whisk on medium speed; add 1 Tbsp milk (or a touch more) until you have a fine, silky purée.
  2. Put the flour, sugar, zest, spices, butter, and pistachios (see footnote) into a food processor and whizz JUST until it starts to come together as dough. Add the parsnip purée and continue whizzing/pulsing at a low speed until the mixture is fully combined.
  3. Very lightly flour a worksurface and your hands, and massage the dough into two 20cm (8″) logs. Roll each log tightly in clingfilm (the dough will be very soft right now) and place in the fridge to chill overnight.
  4. When ready to bake, preheat your oven to 190 C (170 C fan-assisted). Line both trays with baking paper.
  5. Unwrap one cold dough log and slice into 1/4″ (1 cm) rounds – you’ll find lightly dusting your knife with flour can help make neater slices. Place 5x4 on the prepared baking trays.
  6. Bake for 15-18 minutes, turning trays halfway through, until the edges are browned and a light finger tap shows them to be firm. Remove the trays from the oven and leave the cookies to cool before removing them to a cooling rack. Slice the 2nd log and bake on the cooled trays.
  7. If you want to dip them in chocolate, melt the broken chocolate in a bowl over a pot of simmering water on the hob (ensure the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the water). Spread some baking paper over a worksurface, dip half of one surface of a cooled cookie in the chocolate, and let excess drip back into the bowl before placing on the prepared worksurface. Continue for all cookies.

Finely Chopped Pistachios
I find it’s far easier to whizz up nuts in a food processor with a chopping blade, than trying to finely chop them manually with a knife. If doing this, take care not to whizz too long, as they’ll turn into nut butter: stop when it’s just finely-ground. Change the blade from chopping to mixing, and continue with Step 2.

Alternate Decoration
You don’t need to dip the biscuits in chocolate – they’re beautiful just plain, too. But if you like, you could use white chocolate instead of dark, which will make the cookies even sweeter. (I find it helps to add very hot water, just drops at a time with lots of stirring, to white chocolate while it’s melting, to make it smoother.) I melted 75g each of dark and white chocolate to make the pictured batch.

You could also sprinkle some finely chopped pistachios, or even macadamia nuts, over the chocolate-coated tops for a stylish garnish.


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