While sometimes you want a gigantic muffin that's almost too big for your hand, other times, you want to pop no-mess mini muffins in your mouth by the handful. Fortunately, you can accomplish either with the same recipe by making a few adjustments. Some bakers advise eliminating mix-ins in mini muffins, but what fun is that? All muffin recipes can become mini muffin recipes – from fruit to nut to chocolate – by altering how you include the mix-ins.
Consider Ingredients and Directions
You really don't need to change any of the ingredients when converting a muffin recipe to mini muffins, but you do need to alter the directions slightly. First, forget using liners and just give the mini muffin pan a spritz of oil spray. Alternatively, bunch up a small piece of waxed paper or plastic wrap, dip it in oil and individually grease each mini muffin section. Also, consider if your recipe requires any of following alterations.
Finely Chop Any Nuts
It can be disconcerting to encounter a large nut in a mini muffin, and it could protrude awkwardly from the mini muffin as well.
Slice Fruits Into Smaller Pieces
A large blueberry can take over a mini muffin, but don't chop fruit so small that its taste is lost, and you're wondering what those blue bits are. Some fruits don't work as well in minis because of their size and composition.
Blackberries, for example, are so large and full of seeds that chopping them down to a good size makes a mess and may result in some muffin bites containing a mouthful of seeds. Strawberries, though also large, can be diced into small pieces because their seeds are tiny and don't separate from the fruit.
If you're making mini banana muffins, for example, make sure the bananas are mashed completely so no large chunks remain. Mix them into the batter thoroughly.
Chop or Grate Chocolate
Use mini chocolate chips instead of the regular size or chop them into smaller pieces. Chop chocolate chunks smaller too. Experiment with grating or shaving your chocolate, which results in swirls of chocolate in the finished minis rather than pieces.
Adjust Crumbly Toppings
A streusel topping shouldn't be as tall as the muffin itself. If the directions say to sprinkle 1 tablespoon of topping onto each muffin, cut that to 1 teaspoon for mini muffins. You'll still need to make the same amount of topping, but it will be spread among many more muffins.
Adjust Mini Muffin Bake Time
The most critical change when converting muffins to mini muffins is to shorten their baking time. While the oven temperature should stay the same, your minis will be rocks if you bake them for the same amount of time. Thickness determines baking time, and mini muffins are about one-third as tall as those in the recipe. Typically, a recipe that makes 12 regular-sized muffins will make 36 mini muffins.
Most mini muffins will bake nicely without becoming dry if you shorten their baking time to 10-13 minutes. Be sure to check them first at 10 minutes because if they're done at that point, another three minutes could ruin them. Insert a wooden toothpick in the center of several minis but aim for the batter rather than any mix-ins. If the toothpick comes up clean or with just a few clinging crumbs, they're done.
If the toothpick comes up gooey (and you didn't accidentally test the chocolate instead of the batter), return them to bake for longer but check them every minute until they're done. One minute is a long time to a tender mini muffin. Be sure to remove muffins from the pan as soon as they're out of the oven because they'll continue to cook in the hot pan even when out of the oven. If necessary, loosen muffins gently with a thin spatula.
Barbara Bean-Mellinger is a freelance writer who lives in the Washington, D.C. area and writes about food for eHow.com and leaf.tv. She started baking on her own at age nine, creating appetizers at 10, and making family meals by 14. Barbara holds a B.S. from the University of Pittsburgh, where she often cooked elaborate meals and desserts for friends.