Putting things in muffin tins to make bite-sized versions of a dish is a popular kitchen hack, but some recipes work better than others. Lucky Peach tried three: a spaghetti and meatball muffin, a spinach dip bowl and an apple pie, all to see which took well to the idea. Here's what they discovered. Mini apple pie image from Lucky Peach
Marian Bull explains why people are drawn to muffin tins so much:
On Pinterest, if you have a muffin tin, anything is possible. Baked oatmeal or frittatas? Portion them into muffin tins and eat miniature breakfasts throughout the week! Hard tacos? Make 'em tiny! Like brownies? Why not stuff them with marshmallow fluff and bake them in muffin tins! I could go on, but I won't because that's literally what Pinterest is for.
The muffin tin-ization of food is both an aesthetic and a pragmatic movement: we love tiny cute things, sure, but we also love reasonable portion sizes and golden crusts (thanks, Maillard reaction!)
Bottom line: the spaghetti and meatball pie did not work well. The other two, however, worked pretty well -- well enough that it's worth adapting your recipe to a muffin tin if you're planning on feeding a crowd, want some tasty party bites for friends, or just like the idea of portion control. Pie makes the most sense, since each of the recipes uses pre-made pie crust for its fillings, but the spinach dip muffins look especially good, and worth trying for your next get together or game day snack spread. Marian dresses it down:
I opened the oven to these bubbly little bites of Super Bowl frippery and gasped, eyes cartoon-character huge, eyeing each bit of golden edge and molten dairy fat. I was angry that I hadn't just ordered a large amount of marijuana and invited over my three closest friends.
...These bites are the sort of thing that will remind you of the almighty power of cream cheese: how it can make things fluffy and creamy at the same time, how God most definitely made it to be put into dips (sorry, bagels!). The "bite" idea works here, particularly if you're the sort of person with friends who care about double-dipping -- everyone gets their own serving, or four. And it gives a nice illusion of portion control, one of the main reasons to even pull out a muffin tin in the first place.
Hit the link below to read the full story, and all the testing.
Viral Recipes: Muffin Tins [Lucky Peach]