This is the recipe that got me started on savory cupcakes. It was inspired by the name “fish cake” which always made me laugh when I thought of a cake made with fish. My original salmon cupcakes were bite-size and I served them as appetizers, but they quickly grew up into an adult-size entrée.
3 medium russet potatoes, peeled and quartered
1 cup stemmed fresh dill, diced finely
¼ cup heavy cream, at room temperature
4 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
Salt and pepper
1 pound skinless salmon, roughly cut into ½-inch cubes
3 green onions, finely sliced
¼ cup red bell pepper, finely chopped
¼ cup bread crumbs or panko
2 tablespoons sour cream
zest of 1 lemon + 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
¼ cup finely chopped Italian parsley leaves
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 jalapeño pepper, seeds discarded, minced
Vegetable oil spray
8 cupcake liners
Steam potatoes over boiling water until tender to the poke of a fork.
Use a ricer, food mill, or a standard-issue fork to mash potatoes. In a medium glass or metal bowl, blend the potatoes with cream and butter, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Reserve.
To a food processor, add egg, salmon, green onion, bell pepper, breadcrumbs, sour cream, lemon zest and juice, parsley, garlic, jalapeño, ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper. Pulse 4 or 5 times, or until coarsely chopped and well blended. If you don’t have a food processor, chop ingredients finer than indicated and blend in a bowl. Reserve. At this point salmon can be refrigerated for up to a day.
Finish and serve
Preheat oven to 400°F.
Line a muffin tin with 8 paper liners. Generously spray interior of liners with spray oil. Spoon salmon mixture into liners. Gently press salmon down and flatten level with the top of the tin.
Just before putting salmon cupcakes in the oven, reheat potatoes by covering the bowl with aluminum foil and placing it over a pot of boiling water for 5 – 10 minutes. When potatoes are steaming hot, add dill. Blend thoroughly with a fork.
Bake cupcakes for 8 minutes, or until cakes are fully set, yet still moist. Remove cakes from tin immediately so that they do not continue to cook.
Use a piping bag with a star tip, or a table knife to ice the cupcakes.
Yield: 8 servings
Uncommon goods: Vegetable oil spray; cupcake liners; muffin tin (not uncommon, but crucial); piping bag with a star tip (ideal, but not necessary)
Level of difficulty: About the same as making cupcakes from scratch.
Active prep time: 1 hour
Cooking time: 15 minutes
Advance work: The fish mixture can be prepared earlier in the day, to the point that the cakes are ready to be baked. Bake and ice just before serving; Mashed potatoes can be made earlier in the day then reheated over a double boiler just before serving (add dill after reheating)
Liquid assets: A Cru Beaujolais, sometimes considered the poor man’s Burgundy, is a lively match for the bright flavors of this savory cupcake.