Everyone loves blueberry muffins for breakfast and buttercream-topped cupcakes for dessert, but muffin pans can turn out some other exciting options as well, both savory and sweet.
1. Mini Deep-Dish Pizzas
Prep Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Yield Makes 6
Olive oil, for muffin pan
All-purpose flour, for rolling
1/2 pound homemade or store-bought pizza dough, in 6 pieces
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella (4 ounces)
1 large tomato, coarsely chopped
Desired toppings, such as cooked vegetables, pineapple and ham, or pepperoni
1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Lightly brush 6 standard muffin cups with oil. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out each dough piece to a 6-inch round. Fill each cup with 1 round, gently pressing dough into bottom and sides of cup. Season with salt and pepper.
2. Sprinkle each dough cup with 1 tablespoon each cheese and tomato. Add desired toppings and another tablespoon each cheese and tomato. Bake until dough is golden brown and crisp, 12 minutes. Let cool 2 minutes before removing from cups.
Standard muffin pans come in 6- or 12-cup size; if baking 6 items in a 12-cup pan, leave empty space in between. Nonstick pans are nice but not essential. Beware of very thin pans, which often lead to burning. Place pans on a baking sheet to make them easier to get in and out of the oven.
Plus: Easy One-Pot Meals
Bakers Dozen Eggs
2. Baker's Dozen Eggs
This recipe for baker's dozen eggs is from Lauren Bank Deen's "Kitchen Playdates" cookbook.
Yield Serves 6
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
12 slices extra-thin whole wheat bread
1/2 pound prosciutto or Serrano ham, thinly sliced
12 medium eggs
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup heavy cream
Chopped fresh chives, for garnish
1/2 cup grated Parmesan or Manchego cheese, for garnish
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Butter a 12-cup muffin tin. Butter one side of each slice of bread. Press each slice of bread, buttered side up, gently into the bottom of a muffin cup. Transfer to oven and bake for 3 minutes.
3. Gently press ham into each bread cup. Carefully, crack one egg on top of ham. Repeat process until all bread cups are filled. Season each with salt and pepper; top with 1/2 teaspoon cream.
4. Carefully transfer muffin tin to oven and bake eggs until whites are just set, 10 to 15 minutes. Using an offset spatula, remove bread cups from muffin tin and transfer to a serving plate. Garnish with chives and cheese; serve immediately.
3. Muffin-Pan Potato Gratins
Make these individual potato gratins for Thanksgiving dinner or serve them along with any weeknight supper. They go well with steak, roast beef, chicken, or sauteed fish.
Unsalted butter, room temperature, for muffin cups
2 medium russet potatoes (about 3/4 pound each)
Coarse salt and ground pepper
6 tablespoons heavy cream
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly brush 6 standard muffin cups with butter. Thinly slice potatoes. Place 2 slices in each cup and season with salt and pepper. Continue adding potatoes, seasoning every few slices, until cups are filled. Pour 1 tablespoon heavy cream over each. Bake until potatoes are golden brown and tender when pierced with a knife, 30 to 35 minutes. Run a thin knife around each gratin. Place a baking sheet or large plate over pan and invert to release gratins. Flip right side up and serve.
Cut these into quarters for pretty yet simple hors d'oeuvres, or serve them with a crunchy green salad for lunch or a light supper.
Prep Time 20 minutesTotal Time: 45 minutes
1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed and cut into six 3-inch rounds
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for muffin pan
1 large shallot, diced small
1 pound cremini mushrooms, sliced
Coarse salt and ground pepper
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, plus more for serving
¾ cup grated Gruyere cheese (2 ounces)
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place puff pastry rounds in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet and refrigerate while mushrooms cook. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high. Add shallot and cook, stirring, until soft, 3 minutes. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring, until soft and browned, 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in thyme and remove skillet from heat.
2. Lightly oil 6 jumbo muffin cups. Divide mushroom mixture and cheese among cups, then top each with a chilled pastry round. Bake until pastry is golden brown and puffed, about 25 minutes, rotating pan halfway through. 3. Run a small knife around cups to loosen tartlets. Place a rimmed baking sheet or large plate over pan and invert to release tartlets. Sprinkle with more thyme. Serve warm.
5. Mini Mocha Cheesecakes
These little cakes resemble molten chocolate cakes, but are actually cheesecakes. The dessert might seem rich, but it's made with nonfat cottage cheese instead of cream cheese. Bake them in a muffin tin and let them set in the fridge before turning out onto plates.
Yield Makes 9
2 cups nonfat cottage cheese
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
9 chocolate wafer cookies, such as Famous
Whipped cream (optional), for serving
1. Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Line 9 standard muffin cups with cupcake liners. In a food processor, combine cottage cheese, eggs, confectioners' sugar, cocoa powder, flour, espresso powder, and vanilla. Process until smooth, 4 minutes, scraping down sides as needed.
2. Divide mixture among cups and place 1 cookie on top of each. Bake until fillings are set and cookies soften, 25 to 30 minutes. 3. Let cool to room temperature in pan on a wire rack, then refrigerate at least 1 1/2 hours (or, covered, up to 3 days). To serve, invert cheesecakes onto plates and peel off liners. Top with a dollop of whipped cream if desired.
Peanut Butter Cups
6. Easy Peanut Butter Cups
To store, place in an airtight container and refrigerate up to 2 weeks.
Yield Makes 24
4 ounces white chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
12 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 tablespoons unsalted roasted peanuts, chopped
1. Line two 12-cup mini muffin pans with paper liners; set aside. In a microwave-safe bowl, combine white chocolate and peanut butter. Microwave, until almost melted, 1 to 1 1/2 minutes, stirring halfway through. Set aside to cool slightly.
2. Meanwhile, place semisweet chocolate in another microwave-safe bowl. Microwave, stirring once or twice, until almost melted, 2 to 3 minutes.
3. Dividing evenly, use a spoon to layer semisweet chocolate and peanut-butter mixture into liners, beginning and ending with chocolate; sprinkle with peanuts. Place muffin pans in freezer until peanut butter cups are firm, about 15 minutes. Bring to room temperature before serving.
7. Cooking Tip: Use a muffin tin to freeze stock in small amounts
Some recipes require just a little stock, and the leftovers from a whole can won't keep forever in the refrigerator. Freezing unused stock or a homemade batch in 1-cup muffin tins makes it easy to store in small amounts. Pop frozen portions out of tin; store them in resealable plastic bags labeled with the date (frozen stock keeps for about two months).
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