So you have this muffin pan, originally purchased eons ago for a one-time baking adventure inspired by The Great British Bake-Off, and now you just don't know what to do with it. For some, it appears to  be a slightly unwieldy kitchen tool that simply takes up valuable storage space. If this conundrum sounds at all familiar, hopefully these ideas, making use of this remarkably versatile gadget, will restore your faith in the almighty muffin pan. From savory to sweet creations, there is a vast world beyond the wonderful domain of muffins. Here are just a few that involve chocolate and salsa (although not together), among other less conventional muffin pan fillers.

0. Muffins (duh)

Let me preface by saying, muffins are definitely not required to contain bran flakes and be dry or uncomfortably dense in consistency. Craving banana or carrot bread but don't have a bread pan? Bake them into muffins instead. Just imagine: all the warm, nutty deliciousness of banana bread in the form of a convenient, non-messy muffin! Feel free to go wild with different flours, flavors, and mix-in variations. I love using mochi flour for a pleasantly toasty and subtly chewy quality. 

Yu-Shing Ni
Yu-Shing Ni

1. On-the-go omelets

Caramelize some onions and mushrooms and/or other add-ins, and simply drop them into a greased muffin pan with whisked eggs seasoned with salt and pepper, and bake at 350; within 20 minutes you'll have an easy, portable breakfast. 

Yu-Shing Ni

2. Chocolate peanut butter cups

This recipe requires 5 ingredients that, as a college student, you most likely already have; less than an hour of your time; and also perhaps a willingness to lick a bowl of melted chocolate. Simply combine peanut butter (or any alternative nut butters), coconut oil, a pinch of salt, and sweetener, if desired, in a bowl. In a separate bowl, melt bittersweet chocolate in the microwave in 30-second intervals, mixing in between, and pour part of the melted chocolate into muffin liners, about 1/8-inch. Lift and drop the muffin pan a few times to rid of any air bubbles, then let it sit in the freezer for 5 minutes. Once the chocolate has solidified a bit, pour in the peanut butter mixture and cover with the remaining chocolate. Stick it back in the freezer for an excruciating 30 minutes more, and behold: ridiculously easy homemade chocolate peanut butter cups using natural ingredients. Additionally,  these double as great gifts as well as treats for when you're in the mood for something sweet. 

Yu-Shing Ni

3. Bread pudding

What's more appealing than single serving bread pudding: How about savory bread pudding that can count as a full meal? Check out this awesome recipe for bacon cheddar leek bread pudding muffins created by a Spoon McGill alum. 

cheese, bacon
Helena Lin

4. Mini quiches

These are really simple to make and utilizes any veggies you've got in your fridge. All you need are eggs (one egg per serving), milk of your preference, a cup or so of chopped veggies and/or fresh herbs, cheese, and pre-made pie or phyllo dough (which is totally optional). 

cake, quiche, sweet, cheese, pastry, muffin
Ellen Gibbs

5. Monkey bread

We can thank late-19th century Hungary for the creation of the infamous monkey bread (among a ton of other imaginative desserts). It is referred to as aranygaluska in Hungarian literature, which translates to "golden dumpling"–a perfect description in my opinion. A cross between cinnamon brioche and coffee cake, this beautiful buttery and sticky pull-apart bun is meant to be eaten with your fingers (as a monkey would, hence "monkey" bread). Although typically made in a large bundt pan, you can make mini monkey bread in a muffin pan. Single servings of monkey bread are not only more fun to eat, but also reduces the risk of fighting over the last piece!

These are only about a 1/100th of the multitude of ideas that puts to use a single, unpretentious muffin pan. What's even more brilliant about these bite-sized creations is that they keep well in the freezer for a week or so, which makes them rather convenient for those inevitable rushed or too-tired-to-cook days. Just pop one (or several) out and reheat if necessary for the easiest meal or treat, and feel great about finally putting this multi-faceted kitchen gadget to good use