I'm going to make a confession: when it comes to muffins, I'm one of those really strange people who almost prefers the bottoms. Almost. That may explain my reaction when I received a pan that specializes in making just the crusty, puffy tops: "Mini quiches! Dainty gratins! Individual fruit tarts!" The possibilities offered by the large bake-able wells seemed infinitely more diverse than just muffin tops, and I eagerly started compiling recipes that would fit the mold.
In an attempt to eat dinner before dessert, I started with individual quiches loaded with baby spinach, Swiss cheese, and turkey bacon. By the time I'd layered my ingredients and was ready to pour in the egg mixture, a pang of skepticism hit--were they too full? Would they spill over? Imagine my relief 45 minutes later when I pulled out perfectly golden mini-quiches, each in a crisped shell that just contained all its fillings.
It was such a success that I vowed to make individually sized everythings for my next dinner party--gingersnap crusts to fill with figs and mascarpone! Potato gratin with even more cheese than my overloaded quiches! (Maybe not in that order.) Before I got too worked up about it, I switched gears and whipped up a strawberry-flecked batter for my muffins.
As I played with my pan, I learned an important lesson about making muffin tops: Leavening is key, and though you can find substitutions online, it's best to stick with the exact recipe if you want to guarantee fluffy, crackly results. Though eventually the pan yielded just what we wanted, I realized that I was much more excited about its non-conventional uses (though I suppose my love for muffin bottoms may have made that an obvious predisposition).
If I could rename the gadget, I'd call it the Make-Really-Cute-Individual-Portions-of-Everything-You-Love pan, but I'm not sure how well that would go over. Let's face it--I may not need muffin tops on a regular occasion, but the boundless other possibilities definitely make this an entertainer's new secret weapon.
The Original Muffin Top Tin is available for $19.95 at The Spoon Sisters
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