April 1, 2009

Spinach and Sardine Cupcakes

I'm been wanting to make a savory cupcake for a while but needed some inspiration to get me started. When my son Alex showed some interest in a can of sardines at the store recently I knew I had to make something special with them. The spinach pasta for the recent Daring Baker lasagna made me think of the perfect combination, spinach and sardines!

For the cake, I chose a simple onion and thyme flavored sponge cake that wouldn't overpower the toppings. The trick was to have just enough sugar to keep the cake tender and yet remain savory. If I made it again I might use caramelized onions in place of the onion puree to give a richer flavor but using sweet onions was good enough for this first try. For the frosting, I would have loved to use whipped cream with spinach puree but with Alex's dairy allergies that wasn't an option. Instead I made up fresh mayonnaise lightened with extra lemon juice to cut through the fattiness of the sardine.

Yes, these will be intimidating for your kids to take the first bite. Encourage them to go for the head first and the brave ones will step up to the challenge. Just think of how packed with minerals, omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D these little fish are!

Links:
-Nutritional facts for sardines
-Pacific sardines get a best choice rating from Seafood Watch
-If eating the whole fish isn't for you, try this Sardine Pate recipe on TriniGourmet

Update: Of course, don't really make this recipe. Any cupcake flavor with green frosting will do. The fish on top are fondant with luster dust and black food color and here's how to make them. They did look disgustingly realistic once you bit the head off though. Special thanks to Rachel from one of my favorite sites, Cupcakes Take The Cake for this post. You can't fool all of the people all of the time but fooling even just one on April Fool's Day is the best!

Spinach and Sardine Cupcakes
For Oscar
Makes 12 cupcakes

Cake ingredients:
1 3/4 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
1/2 large sweet yellow onion, peeled
1/4 cup melted margarine (or butter)
2 eggs
1/4 cup sugar

Topping ingredients:
1 cup neutral oil (if you prefer you can use a flavorful oil like extra virgin olive oil)
1 egg (to be safest use a pasteurized egg)
2-3 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons smooth pureed spinach
1/4 teaspoon fine salt
canned whole sardines for garnish

-Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F and line a cupcake tin with papers.
-Sift together the flour, baking powder, thyme, onion powder and salt and set aside.
-Take the onion and the melted margarine and process together in a food processor until it forms a smooth pulp. Set this aside as well.
-Separate the eggs for the cake and place the yolks in a stand mixer with a whisk attachment. Add 2 tablespoons of the sugar and beat until very light in color and fluffy. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until they foam. Gradually add the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar while whisking until the whites form stiff peaks.
-Add the margarine and onion pulp to the yolks and beat to incorporate. Fold the flour mixture into the yolk mixture just until combined. You don't have to be very careful with your folding at this point.
-Take one third of the whipped whites and mix into the yolk and flour combination. Add another third of the whites and carefully fold until only a streak of white is left. Add the final third and fold until no whites are visible.
-Spoon into the cupcake papers filling only half way. These will rise quite a lot.
-Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick entered in comes out clean.
-Cool completely.
-Make the spinach mayonnaise to frost the cupcakes by beating the egg with the salt and half of the lemon juice and then drizzling in the oil gradually until a thick and creamy base is created. Once the mayo is nice and thick add the spinach puree and more lemon juice and salt as desired.
-Frost each cupcake with the spinach mayo and then top with a plump whole sardine. Be sure to pat the sardines off with a paper towel to remove any excess oil before adding.
-Serve immediately or store in the refrigerator for later.


My son Alex is fearless and went right for the head.
There was no way to keep Abbie away from these during the picture taking.

48 comments:

gaga said...

Is this for real? Wow, I'm impressed and you are brave!!!

That pic of your cat is hilarious, mine would be doing the same thing.

Sapuche said...

Savory cupcakes sound intriguing, but it’s your photos that have utterly convinced me. You have two star-helpers in this post, and the human one is much braver with food than I was at his age. The adjustments you made with the frosting were brilliant!

DJ Karma said...

Wow! That looks like the perfect birthday treat for any cat! LOL

Laura said...

HA! Good one!

chriesi said...

Wow I am speechless!

jesse said...

Whoaaaa, how brilliantly creative ARE you? AMazing!

VeggieGirl said...

NICE!!

doggybloggy said...

cool - I have always wanted to make the 'worms and dirt' cupcakes....these look like total kid fun.

Nowheymama said...

Hee!

Ricki said...

Wow. Just, wow.

5 Star Foodie said...

These are such fun cupcakes!

Dawn said...

LOLOL!!!

lisaiscooking said...

Hmm, something's fishy here. But, these are too cute!

jumbleberryjam said...

I do believe you have earned the title of QUEEN Daring Baker! :-)

Kris said...

I think those are the only 'sardines' I would actually eat!!! LOL

stephchows said...

ok all I can say is WOW! lol :D

Gera @ SweetsFoods said...

Very creative idea, surely kids always like this funny eating… great done :)

Cheers!

Gera

Nanc Twop said...

Those sardines are perfect!

Shayne said...

sooooo are the sardines on top made from sardine paste because I have never seen a sardine come out of a can looking like that, it is too pretty. I am impressed A ate it. well Z would too she will try anything once, she is my little girl and I love her for this...and many other things

Smakkie said...

That sounds wonderful on a day like this!
Have you tried my new mildew and fungus muffins?

Christine said...

Well done, though I cringe to read people's comments. Please, no one make these.

Esi said...

Thanks for the good laugh. Needed that :)

Anonymous said...

I was fooled at first but that sardine is just too cute. Happy April Fool's Day. :D

Muneeba said...

You got me .... riiiiiiiight upto the part when you said you used real sardines as a garnish! Those sardines look too cartoonish for you to get away with that! Lady, you are chock full of creativity though :)

Anonymous said...

Are you going to post the real recipe because these look like a lot of fun?

foodhoe said...

ok so are those canned gummies or what? very cute!

The Food Librarian said...

You rock! Happy April Fool's day to you. The best ever!!!!!

Heather said...

hahahahaha. i totally hope this is an april fools post! they look horrifying! i wouldn't be brave enough for a spinach and sardine cupcake ;)

Amanda said...

somefin's fishy about this post Maggie! he he he..love it...

Lauren said...

The sardines are a giveaway! Good one. :)

Cookiemouse said...

A most fishy tale, ha, ha!

Cookiemouse said...

Oh, by the way, do you know where I can get some vegan sardines?

Jo said...

At first glance I really thought it was a cupcake with a toy sardine. However absolutely clever and it's so, so cute too!

Kirby! said...

Thank God this is a joke!! I'm as adventurous as the next gal, but when I saw this, I was like, "OH MY GOD, barf." Too funny! I wonder what they would taste like if you actually made them....

Angie's Recipes said...

I have to say one more time: Maggie is an artist!
a curious cat....was she disappointed?

Alisa - Frugal Foodie said...

Joke or not, those look so yummy! Love the cat photo, a classic.

from my motorhome to yours said...

the cupcakes look great, mind if I follow along

Jude said...

But it looks so good. I want it :)

Elle said...

Oh my gosh, those are awesome!

Tangled Noodle said...

I was totally taken it at first glance and the picture of the cat barely containing herself was very convincing! 8-D

Bread and Jam said...

This is absolutely the most creative post I've seen on a food blog yet. :) I love the kitty's curiosity. It looks like she was very close to taking a nibble! Savory is a nice change from the overwhelming number of sweet cupcakes we're used to. Great job!

shellyfish said...

This is the best April Fool's Day Post I've seen! I love it!!!! You're so talented, Maggie, and those sardines look so real, too! And Alex is too cute!

BC said...

I love it! the fishing folk in my family would have a blast with this.

Elra said...

No kidding Maggie, you made this yourself? good grace that really look so real. WOW! I am so impress. Oh how cute the photos of the boy, and the cat so cute too.
Cheers,
elra

glamah16 said...

Cute. That cat is sure curious but your son is enjoying it!

Maggie said...

Thanks for all the comments everyone! Here's the post on how to make the sardines. Of course fondant isn't vegetarian or vegan but they could be easily made with gum paste instead. The gum paste dries hard while fondant stays chewy but otherwise they work the same for a decoration like this.

breadchick said...

Abbie is just too adorable along with Alex!

Jeanne said...

Love it! We featured these on our Fun Food Saturday "cupfakes" edition today. http://bit.ly/95D37a