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Poisson D’Avril!

April 1, 2010

April’s here, and with it comes crazy cultural traditions, like taping paper fish to a person’s back.

In honor of this silly holiday, I thought I would put together a fish-related dessert, something that was both culturally funny AND tasty! And thusly I give you:

April Fishes!

These adorable little fish cookies have a hidden surprise. You’re not going to like it. In fact, you’re going to find it revolting. What can I say? It’s a French recipe, and we all know those Frenchies can be…well…French.

It’s a secret ingredient which is typically used in savory dishes, but hey. If an ingredient can be repurposed, why not?

What is this mystery ingredient, you ask?

Sardine Essence.

WHAT?! Sardine essence?! You’re joking, right? Well, essentially (ha, no pun intended) you take a can of sardines, like these ones I found at Harris Teeter, remove the fillets (you can save them for a salad or pizza topping) and use the oil, or “essence” remaining in the can. I know, it sounds gross, but think about it – would you rather dump it down the drain? NO. I wouldn’t either. I paid good money for these!

The cookies are basically a shortbread dough, which has been slightly modified to handle the extra oil. It’s important to look for sardines which have been packed in extra virgin olive oil, because the saltwater-packed ones don’t have enough lipids to make the cookies flaky like shortbread should be.

The icing is just a mixture of food coloring, powdered sugar, and lemon juice (similar to what I made for these), and is there to provide a sweet contrast to the salty tang of the sardines.

The Recipe:


1 1/2 c. flour

1/2 c. butter, room temperature

1 c. brown sugar

1/4 tsp. salt

1 T sardine (or anchovy, both work equally well) “essence”, or oil


2 c. powdered sugar

1 T lemon juice

Food coloring

Preheat the oven to 375° and drain the anchovies into a colander over a bowl. Reserve fish fillets for salad or other use. Put the butter in your mixing bowl and beat the sugar in. Once the butter/sugar is fluffy, dump the flour and salt in together, all at once. stir until just mixed in, then add the anchovy essence and stir.

Chill the dough for an hour (as you normally would for sugar cookies), then roll it out. I used these fish cookie cutters to cut the cookies, then rechilled them on the baking sheet.

Bake for 15 minutes, or until golden on the edges. Remove from oven and allow to cool on a wire rack; when cool, frost with colored frosting.

Serve as an appetizer, snack, or dessert, but only to the adventurous. And if you’re still reading by now…yes. You’re now a Poisson D’Avril. Or to put it another way, April Fool’s! Picture credits go to these sites, as I did no actual baking or photography in the making of this post. 🙂 The blog’s birthday’s today, but I’m waiting til later for a serious post. 🙂

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Tom permalink
    April 1, 2010 2:41 pm

    I wanted the recipe to be real…

    … so maybe it WILL be. Prepare to eat your joke.

  2. April 1, 2010 3:21 pm

    Wow, you’re good, Lisa! I was horrified…and then very, very RELIEVED!!!


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