Starting from scratch in a brand new kitchen has made me really cherish and understand the few tools I’ve been lucky to work with.
A few weeks after arriving in Mexico, I graciously borrowed a mini-muffin pan from The Little Mexican Cooking School and, for lack of any other baking equipment, went on to use it for just about every one of my oven-borne projects, discovering that these little buggers have many more uses than just making mini-muffins.
Using a mini-muffin pan is a great way to break rich, carb-heavy sweets into bite-sized pieces, especially useful for serving kids, sharing with a group, and entertaining. Aside from muffins and cupcakes, they’re also great for baking tartlets, quiches, cinnamon rolls, pastries, brownies—even meatballs. I’ve baked a few batches of cookies with my loaner, which, although slowing them down a bit, gives them a cute little shape and keeps them nice and soft in the middle.
You’ll typically need to reduce your temperature and baking time if working from a recipe that calls for using a standard size muffin pan (325˚F for 18 minutes is a good rule of thumb for minis). If you’re converting a recipe that would typically use a loaf pan, sheet pan, or other larger area, reduce the temperature by 25˚F and the bake time by 25 percent. Since the cookies I made used the same amount of dough in a denser area, I usually had to add about five minutes on to the bake time.
Mini-muffin pans can be a bit more tedious to grease and clean, unless of course you’re using those nifty little mini-muffin cups or cupcake liners. They’re also available with a non-stick finish, although I’ve found that those aren’t reliably 100% stick-less. And blind baking for tarts, etc. can be quite a production, as you’ll need to trim bits of foil or parchment to cover each individual crust.
That said, they produce a really nice little dainty presentation and make a great alternative when baking as a gift. Try wrapping a few mini-treats up with cellophane and a ribbon for holiday gift swaps or stocking stuffers!