8 Smart Uses for a Muffin Tin
Yes, cupcakes and muffins are great. But allow us to introduce you to round granola bars, the most beautiful ice you've ever seen and more unexpected things you can make in these ubiquitous pans.
Gorgeous and Tasty Refreshers
The muffin tin's large cups are perfect for making supersize ice cubes filled with all kinds of flavor-enhancing ingredients. Pour some water in, and then add thinly sliced cucumber or citrus, berries, edible flowers or herbs, such as basil or mint. Freeze, then plunk the ice cubes into a clear pitcher with water for a good-looking, low-effort refreshment. (Use a silicone muffin mold for the easiest removal; or, just use a metal pan and rinse quickly under warm water to loosen.)
Meatballs Without a Mess
You can get a surprisingly crunchy exterior on meatballs by baking them (and save yourself a lot of cleanup). The secret is to form the meat into balls, then coat each one in bread crumbs. Place them in the cups, bake at around 400° F for 18 to 20 minutes and that's it. The trick also works for falafel; there's no need to roll the balls in bread crumbs, but brush a tiny bit of olive oil on top of each one and bake at a higher temperature (about 475°) for about 20 minutes, until crisp.
A New Way to Do Portable Eggs
Move over egg sandwich, breakfast burrito and plain hard-boiled egg: We've found another go-to protein-packed breakfast to enjoy on-the-go. Whether you want to keep it simple, by just pouring whisked eggs tossed with some spinach and cheese into each cup, or more complex, by lining each cup with ham first, baked eggs in muffin cups are a perfect hack for preparing a few days' worth of morning meals ahead of time.
Soup for One
Pop out a couple of frozen blocks of soup on a night when you need a quick dinner for yourself (using the same technique we described using for the ice cubes), and either microwave or warm in a nonstick skillet over low heat. Since the blocks aren't large, they'll defrost quickly. Freezing stock works well, too.
The Potato Dish You Haven't Tried Before
Who knew you could achieve potato nirvana—that is, crunchy on the outside, soft and fluffy on the inside—with a muffin tin? Here's how: Peel and thinly slice russets and toss them in a bowl with some melted butter and olive oil. Mix in whatever seasonings you like, from chopped herbs to salt and pepper. Pile the potato mixture into muffin cups that you've coated in nonstick spray and bake at 375 for about 45 minutes, until the outsides are golden brown and the insides are tender when pierced with a sharp knife.
Granola Bars in the Round
Here's another ultra-convenient breakfast that's endlessly riffable. It works with any granola recipe; just mix together the wet and the dry ingredients, spoon the granola into a greased muffin tin and bake at 350° for about 10 minutes. Pop each circle out with a sharp knife, and then eat it like a cookie, or use it as a base for fruit and yogurt.
Everyone's favorite communal dessert is doable without a special pot. All you need to do is to melt some chocolate and pour it into one of the muffin cups; then fill the rest of the cups with fruit, cubed pound cake, cut-up pieces of croissant, mini marshmallows, pretzels or thick-cut potato chips. Serve to your guests and start dipping, with or without skewers.
Serving Bowls You Can Eat
Flip the pan over, give it a light spray with oil then form and press the cookie dough around the outside base of each cup. Bake (at 350 for about 11 minutes, or until firm), let cool then invert and you've got ready-to-fill bowls for ice cream, pudding or yogurt—which you can eat when you're done. The bowls turn out best if you use a dough that doesn't have chunky mix-ins, so sugar cookie dough is perfect, as is dough with mini chocolate chips.