Monday, February 3, 2014

Lasagna Cupcakes


                


Yields: 12 cupcakes. 

Level: Easy.
Time: Approx. 1 hour.          



Not your ordinary cupcake with sponge cake and buttercream frosting, this "cupcake" is made up of meat and cheese sauce. Wonton wrappers are used as the "mini" lasagna sheet, as it has the same ingredients as a pasta sheet (eggs and flour) and its thinness will make it cook super fast.


This is a perfect finger food idea that you can serve on a cupcake/muffin liner, or just leave it like that as it holds its refined shape of a cupcake, unlike the usual messy lasagna. It has all the same ingredients as a classic Lasagna that we all love: meat sauce, bechamel sauce, and pasta sheet.

Lasagna is the first Italian food that made me fall in love with Italian cuisine. I first had it when I was in primary school and I instantly fell in love with it, the sticky mozzarella cheese on top, gooey cheese sauce and tangy-herby meat sauce. I can taste it in my mouth as I type this *drool*.


Oh, and I might not use the classic method and ingredients of making the bechamel sauce here, but this is just how I always make it. Maybe I shouldn't call it a bechamel sauce, let's just say it's the Cheese Sauce. Here goes...


INGREDIENTS:
  • 24 Wonton Wrappers
  • Coarsely grated mozzarella, to top
  • Cooking oil spray, for greasing the muffin pan (or you can brush some oil or butter)

MEAT SAUCE
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1/4 brown onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 500g minced beef (can use chicken or pork, if you prefer)
  • 400g cans Italian diced tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup of beef stock (substitute with: chicken stock, vegetable stock, or dry red wine)
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried basil leaves
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
CHEESE SAUCE
  • 350ml full cream milk (ROOM TEMPERATURE)
  • 125g cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 1/2 tbs butter
  • 1 1/2 tbs all purpose flour
  • Salt and freshly fround black pepper, to taste
  • Pinch ground nutmeg 

METHOD:
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit (190 degrees Celsius). Grease muffin tin with cooking oil spray.

2. For the meat sauce... heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring continuously for 3 minutes or until onion softens. Add the minced beef and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon to break up any lumps, until mince changes colour. Add the diced tomato, stock (or wine), and bring to the boil. Add the dried herbs and stir. Reduce heat to low. Simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally to avoid the bottom from burning, until the liquid has evaporated and sauce thickens slightly. This is crucial for more concentrated flavor. Remove from heat. Taste and season with salt and pepper. At this stage, you can add dried chili flakes or chili powder if you like it spiceeeeeeh.

3. To make the cheese sauce, melt the butter in a medium sauce pan over low heat. Add the flour, stirring vigorously to make a roux (google or wikipedia this if you don't know what it is, I do it all the time, lol). Make sure that you stir this over low heat to avoid the flour from burning. Stir for about a minute to cook the flour a little bit. Pour the milk very slowly, whisking constantly with a balloon whisk, until mixture is smooth. Avoid pouring the milk to fast to avoid any lumps from forming. Add the cheddar cheese, stirring continuous with a wooden spoon. Once all the cheese is melted and the sauce has thickened, taste and season with nutmeg, salt and pepper. Cheese LOVES nutmeg. A little bit of cheese goes a long way. Okay, you're done, remove from heat and allow to cool.

4. Now, assemble! Begin with pressing a wonton wrapper into the bottom of each muffin tin (ps: it is easier to do this when you have very short fingernails!). Add a tablespoon of the meat sauce and then a tablespoon of the thick cheese sauce, top with mozzarella cheese, then repeat the layers again (i.e. wonton, meat sauce, cheese sauce, mozzarella cheese), this time you might wanna drizzle some of the meat sauce on top of the mozzarella to make sure that you get a bit of the red color on top. Looks prettier when you want to take a picture of it, lol.

5. Bake! Bake for 18-20 minutes or until edges are brown. Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes, I know it can be tempting to put it straight in your mouth, but burnt tongue can't taste the yumminess of this amazing Lasagna Cupcakes, so be a bit patient! Use a knife to loosen the edges and then pop each 'cupcake' out.

6. Garnish with fresh basil leave, or just sprinkle some dried basil or parsley leaves.

7. Eat.


Big love,

Stephani Gondo.




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