Friday, March 16, 2012

St Paddies Cupcakes (with secret ingredient)

This is going to be my second St Paddies in Ireland and the first that I actually celebrate properly because last year I was terribly sick (my own fault, for overeating on Pi day, but I didn't know that I had gallstones at that point so it was really just terrible bad luck). However, St Paddies is on a Saturday this year, so in order to supply all my colleagues with green treats I have baked for St Paddies even (as in, today). I saw a recipe on another blog awhile ago and absolutely had to try it because I love secret ingredients. In a couple of hours I will begin handing them out and see what sort of response I get. If you want to know the secret ingredient, however, you will have to keep on reading, because I don't want to spill the beans too quickly.

Bright Green Cupcakes
from A Little Nosh

2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups sugar (if you have vanilla sugar, use this, because I reckon these cupcakes definitely need more flavour)
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 cup milk
1 cup apple puree or unsweetened apple sauce
100 grams baby spinach (yep, spinach! Surprise!)
Buttercream frosting or cream cheese frosting

First, switch the oven on to 180 degrees celsius and fill 18 muffin holes with paper liners. If you don't have pre-made apple puree, quickly peel and chop a large cooking apple or two, place in a pot with a bit of water and simmer until they are mushy. If there is too much, that's ok, you can just eat the rest, because stewed apples are delicious.

Combine the dry ingredients in large bowl, sifting all except for the sugar. Mix them together well.

In another large(ish) bowl (or the bowl of your food processor, if you have one), place the vanilla essence, milk, apple puree and spinach. Blend them until the mixture is very smooth (this is not so easy with a stick blender, so hopefully you have a food processor - I wish I had one).

Pour the spinach mixture into the flour mixture and beat for 2 minutes. This is the point where I changed the recipe from the original and began adding more milk, sugar and vanilla, because the mixture just didn't seem right. I think I may have used more spinach than I was supposed to - the recipe said 4 cups, but how much is that? Was I supposed to pack the leaves in tight or measure them loosely? So maybe my cupcakes are extra-spinachy, but hopefully the extra sugar, milk and vanilla will make up for that. We'll see what response my friends give me!

Spoon the mixture into the 18 prepared holes, so that each liner is just over half full. Maybe you will end up with more than 18 cupcakes, but I'm sure nobody will complain about that.

Bake the cupcakes for 18 minutes (make sure they are done by sticking a skewer into a couple of them). Let them cool completely, then frost them with something yummy - I used buttercream but I think maybe cream cheese frosting would have been better. But that could just be because I don't much like butter. And I ran out of vanilla essence. I made my frosting green because the buttercream wasn't really white, it was sort of yellowish, but I think white frosting on green cupcakes would be cute. Especially if you had some bright coloured sprinkles.

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