At first glance, it may seem an appliance built specifically for cupcake-making is a bit decadent.
I don't have that many kitchen appliances, so when I get a new one I want to be able to use it for many different kinds of food. I was in luck -- the Mini Pie and Cupcake Maker is actually very versatile.
You can make four different types of quiche, all at once. You can even make cupcakes and chicken pot pie at the same time. You can make a personal cherry pie in the time it takes to brew a cup of coffee.
My initial test was with a savory pie. I started out simply, buying Pillsbury crescent rolls and spinach and feta to make little Greek pies. The cupcake maker was hot and ready within ten minutes. I formed a little pie cup from the dough and filled it with cooked spinach/feta mix. Ten minutes later the inside of the pie was hot and melty, with light, flaky crust on top and darker, firmer crust on the bottom. They were beautiful to look out, and delicious and evenly heated throughout.
My roommate has a killer red velvet cake recipe, so she mixed up cupcake batter while I was still eating my dinner. They turned out light and airy, more like a cake than a heavy cupcake. While some people might prefer a denser cupcake, I liked the airy texture and it still had the same flavor punch. The cupcakes are actually larger than your average cupcake, more like circular pieces of cake than cupcakes.
Cleanup is easy. The appliance's non-stick coating helps you clean out the cups without having to use a scratchy sponge, even when the cheese bled through and stuck to the side. Our second batch was up and running in minutes, and all in all we didn't have to spend much more than 45 minutes between prep and cleanup.
It's a simple yet elegant concept, and makes controlling your portions very easy. Truly a perfect gift for the (lazy) aspiring chef in your life. Available at The Sharper Image for $59.99.