10 January 2014

Kaleidoscopic Cups and Savory Muffins ....

It's amazing the gadgets and nifty little kitchen items there are in the world these days! Who would think that I could get a charge out of these little silicone muffin cups ... but I do ... now.  First of all, they came to me free and clear from the people at New York Baking Company, and anything free is like manna from heaven to a Yankee like me!

I opened my email a couple weeks ago and had a message from a representative of NYBC, asking me if I would accept a dozen of their new baking cups to review on the blog. Now, I've never accepted product from any company in my entire time blogging The Spice Garden, but this time I accepted the offer. My brother has sworn by silicone baking pads and I have been curious about the baking forms. To boot, the idea of not having to throw away or peel off sticky, paper cupcake forms from my muffins was an attractive incentive to try the silicone baking forms. So I jumped on the opportunity.

They stunk. Literally. They stunk when I opened the packet - like chemicals. This was not auspicious. So I separated them and threw them in hot, soapy water to soak for an afternoon, then rinsed them really well and left them to air out on the kitchen island ... for a week. Each day, I'd sniff at them and each day the smell was fainter.

Today, finally, there was no smell. Not a whiff. Nothing. Today was a day for a pot of baked beans and some savory muffins to have with ... so I tried the forms ... and they worked very well! No tell tale smell on the muffins after baking, nicely crisped bottoms to the muffins, super easy to get the muffins popped out of the warm cups, no need to use butter or baking spray, and super easy clean-up! The colors are pretty jazzy too - just sayin' ...

I'm curious to see how long these little baking cups will last ... is silicone one of those products that will be an archaeological find for generations in the future ... or does it break down? Hmmm ... I don't suppose the folks at New York Baking Company would have an answer for me on that one. In fact, that would be a criticism of this product. There was not a word of instruction in the packet with the cups. No explanation of care or hints on whether or not to grease or spritz with cooking spray, nor hints on whether or not to use them in existing metal forms as liners or free-form on a cookie sheet. Nothing. Don't laugh. I didn't have a clue as to how to use them and had to use the Net to do a little research.

I ended up using them free form by placing them on a pizza pan for moving them from counter top to oven and back again. I am really pleased that I don't have to soak and scrub out that old metal muffin tin any longer or curse and spit over trying to separate those paper and foil muffin cups that come in the little box packages ... life just got a little simpler. Now, I wonder. Does NYBC make mini-muffin baking forms?

While I'm gushing about these little silicone cups, I do want you to know that the jury is still out on the use of silicone in kitchen cookware. The FDA has approved its use, but I'm a healthy cynic. In researching the use of silicone for this post, I have found vehement comments both pro and con when debating the use of silicone in the kitchen. Some feel that oven heat and oils on the surface of the silicone cause fumes to be released. Some folks that are sensitive to airborne chemical fumes won't have silicone products in their kitchens, as they have strong reactions to the fumes - headaches, rashes, itchiness, etc. Still other cooks see silicone as a needless addition to cookware mediums and prefer to stick with glass, stainless steel, and enameled cast iron forms. There are those, though, who swear by the convenience of using silicone baking forms and pads, touting the ease of use, the reduction of waste (no more paper or foil liners) and dietary advantages (reduced use of oils or fats for baking forms). I'll continue to use these forms under a few other conditions and see how they behave before I make a real decision on whether to keep them around my kitchen.

If you'd like to try these little baking gadgets ... here's a link to check them out ... simple, huh?

Silicone Baking Cups 
The New York Baking Company 
Retail: $8.95
Made of: BPA free silicone

http://www.amazon.com/Baking-Buddies-Reusable-Silicone-Guarantee/dp/B00EVQ167A">silicone baking cups

As for the muffins ...they're a tasty version of a Nigel Slater recipe that I found in reading his latest kitchen diary called Notes From the Larder  ... delish and full of ham, grated apple and cheese. I used Jarlsberg cheese and a Pink Lady apple variety. A lightly sweet muffin with only a tablespoon of sugar in the batter, the base and top of the muffins came out crunchy and crisp with a perfect 'bite' - fluffy, but not crumbly. Killer with a thin pat of butter on each half and very good with a bowl of baked beans. Here's the recipe ...

 Cheese, Apple and Ham Muffins

Make a dozen


2 ¼ c. all purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tbsp. sugar
3 eggs
⅔ c. plain Greek yogurt
2 tbsp. milk
7 oz. cooked ham, chopped to small dice
2 ½ oz. Jarlsburg cheese (any full flavoured hard cheese will do here)
1 small apple, cored and  grated

Making the Muffins:

  1. Preheat oven to 400° F.
  2. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and sugar in a deep bowl.
  3. Add the grated cheese, reserving about a third of it for sprinkling atop the muffins before baking.
  4. Toss the cheese to coat it with the flour mix.
  5. Whisk the yogurt and eggs together in a large measuring cup.
  6. Toss the ham and apple and the yogurt mix all together into the dry ingredients and mix lightly, just until the batter forms up and comes together into a ball.
  7. Scoop mounds of batter into greased muffin pan forms or into clean silicone muffin cups.
  8. Press a pinch of the reserved cheese onto the tops of each muffin and pop the muffins in the middle of the pre-heated oven.
  9. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes, until  the muffins are golden and crisp atop and a cake tester comes clean when the muffin is poked.
  10. Serve warm.
  11. Store closely wrapped or tightly sealed in a plastic zip-lock bag.


  1. A very honest review/opinion. I have silicone muffin tins, but I've never used them---I'm not sure why. I do use the silicone baking sheets tho. Your's look so pretty! and the muffins sound good too.

  2. I LOVE this type of muffin cups and have been using them for about a year. I own the jumbo and the smaller size. So nice and easy to clean as well.

    (Your muffins seem yummy)

  3. I've used Silpat mats for baking for a long time and love them. I also just started using a set of silicone oven mitts that seem kind of miraculous. The only downside for me is that all of this stuff seems to be made in China, which is a shame. As for the smell, all of these products are going to off-gas for a few days. The science doesn't seem to think it's harmful, but anecdotal reports differ. Who's to say. I'm just happy for you that the blog has reached a large enough audience to garner you freebies. Well done!

  4. lovely looking savoury muffins!... great combo of flavours there.. I'm super-funny about food things that smell off and would probably have done just as you did... I love my silicone bakeware but it's not my favourite way of cooking, I would always chose metal over silicone any day..., great post x


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