Cooking with Nicole: Toast Cups!

Well, it’s just about New Years, so I know a lot of you will be either hosting or attending parties. And parties means DIP! So here’s how my family makes toast cups, the perfect accompaniment to dip. We always use toast cups for the crab dip I showed you how to make in my last Cooking With Nicole, but it would suit any creamy dip, really.

The only thing you need to make toast cups are bread and mini-muffin tins. You definitely need to go the mini-muffin route, as your guests would drown themselves in dip with full-sized tins.

You can use whatever bread you like, just remember that more flavorsome bread will compete with your dip. My mom always uses cheap white bread, as it toasts up a treat and it’s so mild.

Before you start, set your oven to 400 degrees to preheat. Also, we do oil our tins before that first baking with a really light coating of olive oil, or a spray of PAM if we have it, but I’m not sure you really have to do this step.

The first step is to cut the crusts off your bread. I always do four slices at a time (more gets unwieldy). I stack them up:

And then slice off the crusts:

Next, I lay out the crustless bread like a little grid:

I then use a REALLY heavy rolling pin (you don’t need a heavy one but it’s so much easier) and I flatten the bread:

Only AFTER it’s been flattened to I stack the four slices to cut them. If you try to flatten them when they’re stacked, they amalgamate into a single super thick slice that’s impossible to separate. So, I stack:

Then I slice into four:

After you’ve got your slices, you put them into your baking tins, molding the bread into the cup of the muffin tin. Don’t be too rough, it’s easy to stick a finger through them at this stage. But if that does happen, the bread can usually be squished back together. Here’s the tin all set to bake:

Once your tins are ready, stick ‘em in the oven. Most ovens only hold two tins at a time, as you only want to use one shelf because you’re toasting the tops as well as the bottoms.

You’ll bake the toast cups for anywhere from 5-12 minutes, depending on your oven. Do not walk away at this stage, you definitely want to keep checking them. They’ll go from underdone to burnt in seconds. So keep an eye on your oven.

You know they’re done when the tops are toasted and so are the bottoms. They’ll look like this:

Aren’t they perty?

We normally make these the day ahead, and put them in plastic bags with the air sucked out. Then, right before we serving them, we chuck them onto a baking tray and reheat them at about 350 for just a few minutes. They taste perfectly fresh, then, and regain their crispness.

I hope you enjoy your toast cups, and your New Year! I’ll be incognito for a few days–going to Chicago to stay with friends, then driving back to Pennsylvania. But I’ll see you in 2012, and don’t forget there’s a contest under this post and another over at Denise Townsend’s site.

Be safe and merry merry!

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