Extended tools – Muffin cups

I bought my first set of muffin cups when I was still a student back in 1995. It used it once to cook blueberry muffins in a toaster oven. I was the best muffin I ever had.

Muffin cups

Muffin cups

Then, the cups went into storage and stayed there till 2011. Just taking up space and adding to clutter. That’s how much use I made of my muffin cups. Well, this year, I vowed to make the most of my kitchen tools. Use them lovingly and as insanely often as I can. So when I move, I can trash them with a clear conscience that they had served their purpose in life and deserved their space in the landfill.

You see, when I bought muffin cups, it was for the sole purpose of making muffins. Then, I didn’t know what to do with them. Now that I had several more years of experience (oh, okay, decade and a half), I see them in new perspectives. They are like little bowls. They stack up, so they don’t take as much space as a muffin tin/tray. And they are super durable. You can boil them, toss them in oven, over a barbeque grill, steam them … the only thing you shouldn’t do with them is to stick them in a microwave. But I’m trying to avoid microwave, so it’s good for me.

Fresh homemade from scratch muffin

Fresh homemade from scratch muffin

So, I thought I’d like to list down all the things I can do to get more mileage out of my muffin cups (to justify their space on my shelf):

  1. Bake muffins – doh! Done that a few days ago and I made blueberry muffins from scratch and fresh and they were awesome.
  2. Sauce bowl – I’m Malaysian Chinese. I like condiments with my meals. These make a nice sauce bowl. Not too big, not too small. Easy to clean. Sambal, soya sauce with cili padi, chilli-garlic-ginger-lime, vinegar with fine julienne young ginger, mayo …
  3. food prep bowls – Ever watched cooking shows? The cook has everything measured, diced and chopped and put neatly in those little ramekins and glass bowls. Well, they are about the size of muffin cups. You connect the dots.
  4. Yorkshire pudding – It’s just the right size for single serving
  5. Agar-agar jelly – Any container can be used for agar-agar mold. But the metal ones are especially nice to speed up the cooling process. That waiting for agar-agar to cool is the worst part of making agar-agar, in my not so humble opinion. I can’t wait to eat it and would destroy a few half-set ones in my impatience. But soft watery half-congealed agar-agar is yum too!
  6. Ke nui ko (Steamed egg yolk cake) – my mom has her super recipe that uses only egg yolks. I have to call to get it one of these days. But this is what it looks like (roughly). It’s an easy cake to make. http://happyhomemaker88.com/2007/10/04/easy-traditional-chinese-steamed-egg-cake/
  7. Malai Kau – Malay steamed cake  is a misnomer. It’s actually a Nyonya Chinese steamed cake, normally served with dimsum for breakfast. It’s lovely with chili-ginger-garlic-lime combo drizzled on it. The key ingredient is gula melaka (palm sugar). But works with brown sugar too.  http://busygran.blogspot.com/2011/03/steamed-palm-sugar-cupcakes.html (Omit raisins in this recipe. It’s sacrilege on my book. Sliced almonds toppings are fine.)
  8. Pat thong koh – not my favourite snack, but it’s been a regular item for Chinese New Year prayer offerings since I can remember. I think it’s Cantonese for White Sugar Cake. Again, it’s a steamed cake with tube-like internal structure like bingka ambon, just not as orderly or high.  http://roseskitchen.wordpress.com/2007/02/27/pak-tong-kou-steamed-white-cake/
  9. Chui kueh (Water cake) – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chwee_kueh

In case you haven’t noticed, the steamed cake don’t have any butter. It’s based on milk and/or coconut milk (santan) and vegetable oil. That’s how you can have yummy cake and eat it too. Also, steam cooking is usually more forgiving than oven bake. It’s hard to overcook, so you rarely have to worry about your result being too dry or turning into charcoal.

If you have more novel ideas on how to extend the usefulness of your muffin cups, drop me a line.

p.s. This one is going into my barely started not-a-cook-book for the non-chef.

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