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Alternatives to Paper Muffin Cups: A Delicious Experiment

Writer. Educator. Aspiring seamstress. DIY-er. Yoga practitioner. Ukulele beginner. Vegetarian. Cyclist. Traveler.

How could I not want to try something as delectable as these?

How could I not want to try something as delectable as these?

I had a delicious new recipe to try this morning: baked individual oatmeals with choose-your-own toppings. But I had a problem: it called for paper muffin cups and I had none. I did a quick google search and found suggestions for using both non-stick cooking spray and parchment paper, so I decided to do a little experiment and try both. Plus, the original recipe poster suggested spraying the muffin cups with the cooking spray as well, so I decided to also try combining the parchment paper and cooking spray methods. What I found was that all three worked well, but with some differences in taste, texture, and clean up.

Placing the parchment paper in the tin.

Placing the parchment paper in the tin.

Experiment Preparation

I followed the recipe (though note, if you want to try it, I made only a half batch expecting 9 servings and ended up with 12) and then divided my muffin pan into three rows: parchment paper alone, parchment paper with cooking spray in the middle, and only cooking spray in the third.

Easily shape parchment paper into muffin cups.

Easily shape parchment paper into muffin cups.

Filling the tin.

Filling the tin.

I was a little nervous about overfilling the ones with parchment paper, in case the batter leaked and baked around the edges, but I had so much batter I had to just fill ‘em up!

At first I was sad that I didn't have chocolate chips, but I'm always amazed at the delicious things you can make with whatever's on hand.

At first I was sad that I didn't have chocolate chips, but I'm always amazed at the delicious things you can make with whatever's on hand.

Then I added the toppings, which in my case were: plain brown sugar, brown sugar with peanuts, brown sugar with coconut, coconut with mixed granola, and coconut with butterscotch chips. (Yummy!)

Note: the granola burned a tiny little bit, so I might not use that one again.

Cooking Spray Only (Brown Sugar Topping)

Cooking Spray Only (Brown Sugar Topping)

Experiment Outcomes

Ease of Extraction

  • Parchment Paper and Parchment Paper/Cooking Spray: Extremely easy to just pick up and set down on the cooling sheet.
  • Cooking Spray Only: I had to use a knife to loosen the sides, then came out easily using two spoons.
Parchment Paper and Cooking Spray (Granola Topping)

Parchment Paper and Cooking Spray (Granola Topping)

Removal of Paper: The Appearance of Oatmeal Cup

  • Cooking Spray Only: None needed; the oatmeal bottom was a uniform, golden-brown cylinder.
  • Parchment Paper/Cooking Spray: Paper fell away easily; oatmeal was shaped like the paper and golden browned.
  • Parchment Paper Only: Paper pulled away with no oatmeal sticking to it; darker lines on the paper, oatmeal near burnt in a few spots.
Parchment Paper Only (Butterscotch Chips and Coconut Topping)

Parchment Paper Only (Butterscotch Chips and Coconut Topping)

Taste

  • Cooking Spray Only: It was delicious, but it had a more oily taste to it than the others, as well as a bit of a rubbery texture.
  • Parchment Paper/Cooking Spray: There was less of an oily taste than the first, and the edges were soft.
  • Parchment Paper Only: It had a more “well done” taste and firmer texture, and there was no hint of oil in the taste.

My Favorite Combination

Overall, I enjoyed the combination of parchment paper and cook spray most—I liked the way it looked with the edges shaped like the paper, and I found it was the best of both worlds. However, the differences were so slight that you’ll probably like it any way you do it. So if you don’t have muffin cups when making a recipe like this, don’t worry—it’ll probably turn out great!

With the rest of these in the freezer to stay fresh, I'll be enjoying breakfasts like this very much for the next few days!

With the rest of these in the freezer to stay fresh, I'll be enjoying breakfasts like this very much for the next few days!

Recipe From Sugar-Free Mom

Comments

Susan Deppner from Arkansas USA on September 15, 2014:

I usually just use cooking spray for muffins, but I've become a big fan of parchment paper lately. Haven't tried it for muffins yet. Thanks for your scientific experiment - very interesting! (Recipe sounds good, too.)

Dylan on October 06, 2012:

I want some now! Mmm mmm good.

Lindsay Sommerauer (author) from London, ON on October 04, 2012:

They really are delicious, and I have been very impressed with how fresh they still taste after being in the freezer, thawed in the fridge overnight, and then heated in the microwave for 30-45 seconds in the morning!

MPanta from Lisbon on October 04, 2012:

they seem different and delicious. I will probably try it someday.

peachy from Home Sweet Home on September 30, 2012:

interesting method. I find that if you use parchment paper, less oil develop.