Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Lasagna Cupcakes

I like small desserts. Guess that’s why I have an affinity for cupcakes. They’re small parcels of deliciousness. Which is why I was so excited when I stumbled upon this recipe – it’s a delicious twist on lasagna with a dramatic presentation. Kids love the whimsical look and friends will be impressed by the arrangement. Annnnnnnnd they are super easy to customize for the pickiest eaters. The possibilities are endless!

Lasagna Cupcakes
Makes 12 “cupcakes”

Meat Sauce:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, finely diced (about 1 cup)
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound mild Italian chicken sausage, casing removed
¼ cup tomato paste
1 (28-ounce can) crushed tomatoes
¼ cup chopped fresh basil, plus 12 whole small leaves

Ricotta Filling:
¾ cup part-skim ricotta
¾ cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus more for topping
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella, plus more for topping
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

1 package wonton wrappers (at least 48)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

For the meat sauce: In a large skillet over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil until it shimmers. Add the onion, sprinkle with a little salt and sauté until softened but not browned. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute longer.

Add the sausage, breaking up the clumps with your spoon. Cook until the sausage is no longer pink, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and cook 1 to 2 minutes. Add the crushed tomatoes, ¼ cup chopped basil, as well as some salt and pepper. Stir to combine and simmer uncovered, for about 15 minutes, stirring every now and then. Allow the meat sauce to cool, about 15 minutes before building lasagna cupcakes. As the meat sauce is cooking, prepare the ricotta filling.

For the ricotta filling: Stir together the ricotta, ¾ cup Parmesan and ¾ cup mozzarella. Season with lots of pepper, about a teaspoon and set aside.

To assemble the cupcakes:
Pull out your favorite cupcake pan. If your pan is not nonstick, spray the cups with cooking spray. Place a wonton wrapper in each cup. Don't worry if you're using square ones.

Drop about 1 tablespoon of meat sauce into the bottom of each cup. Then add 1 teaspoon of ricotta filling. Then cover with another wonton wrapper, rotating it about 90 degrees so that the corners of the first wrapper and the second wrapper aren't right on top of each other. Repeat this until you've built 3 layers total. Top each with a small basil leaf, then another wonton wrapper. Finish each cupcake with a spoonful of meat sauce, a little shredded mozzarella and pinch of grated Parmesan.

Pop them into the oven and bake for 20 minutes. When time's up, resist the temptation to eat them right away or else you'll burn your mouth! Let them rest on the counter for about 10 minutes, and they should slip out of the muffin tin easily. Top with more shredded basil if you like.

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