Alternatives to Paper Muffin Cups: A Delicious Experiment

Updated on January 21, 2013
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 cook spray as well, so I decided to also try combining the parchment paper and cook spray methods. What I found was that all three worked well, but with some differences in taste, texture, and clean up.

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 cook spray in the third.

Easily shape parchment paper into muffin cups
Easily shape parchment paper into muffin cups

Here’s another quick tip: the cap of a vitamin bottle was the same diameter as my muffin tin cups, but it worked much better to shape the paper with my hands by pressing it over the cap and then placing it in the tin, rather than trying to squish the paper into the tin with the bottle upside down.

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!

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.)

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.
Cook spray only (brown sugar topping)
Cook spray only (brown sugar topping)

Experiment Outcomes:

Ease of Extraction:

  • Parchment paper and parchment paper/cook spray – extremely easy to just pick up and set down on the cooling sheet
  • Cook spray only – had to use a knife to loosen the sides, then came out easily using two spoons

Parchment paper & cook spray (granola topping)
Parchment paper & cook spray (granola topping)

Removal of paper; appearance of oatmeal cup:

  • Cook spray only – none needed; oatmeal bottom was a uniform, golden-brown cylinder
  • Parchment paper/cook 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:

  • Cook spray only – delicious, but did have more oil taste than the others, and an ever so slightly more rubbery texture
  • Parchment paper/cook spray – less oily taste than the first, soft edges
  • Parchment paper only – slightly more “well done” taste and firmer texture, no hint of oil taste


Conclusion:

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!

Questions & Answers

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      • SusanDeppner profile image

        Susan Deppner 

        4 years ago from Arkansas USA

        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.)

      • profile image

        Dylan 

        6 years ago

        I want some now! Mmm mmm good.

      • LMSommerauer profile imageAUTHOR

        Lindsay Sommerauer 

        6 years ago from London, ON

        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!

      • saitam profile image

        saitam 

        6 years ago from Lisbon

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

      • peachpurple profile image

        peachy 

        6 years ago from Home Sweet Home

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

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