I have a pan I think is called "muffin tops", which makes 6 muffins 1/2" deep and 3" wide. What baking time, temperature and can I use any muffin or cake mixture?--Helen
You may recall the Seinfeld episode where Elaine suggests just selling the tops of muffins, but why are they the best part? Because they are crunchy, and because of the Maillard reaction which occurs when proteins and sugars combine under heat. The reaction creates complex, nutty flavors that just aren't found on the inside of a muffin. By cooking shallow disks of batter, you increase the proportion of outside, which is crunchy and flavorful, to inside, which is soft and more bland.
A typical muffin top pan has either six or twelve shallow cups, each of which holds about the same amount of batter as the cup on a regular muffin tin. Since yours is a six cup tin, you either need to half your recipe, make two batches, or buy a second six cup tin and bake them both at once.
You can use any of your favorite muffin recipes, including those made from muffin or cake mixes. Just follow the instructions provided. Because the batter is cooked in a thinner layer, heat can penetrate it more quickly so muffin tops will cook quicker than regular muffins. The time will be about half to three-quarters as long as for regular muffins. As with any muffin or cake recipes, you can use a clean toothpick to test for doneness. Insert the toothpick into the center of the muffin and pull it out again. While some crumbs may stick to it, if the muffins are done, there shouldn't be any wet batter adhering to the toothpick.
For recipes with a lot of sugar, you may find that the muffin tops start to burn too quickly. If that happens, reduce the oven temperature by 25°F to 50°F (15°C to 30°C).