Favorite Party Helper: Soufflé Cups In All Sizes

We thought it was time to spotlight one of our very, very favorite kitchen helpers: Paper soufflé cups! They are ultra-cheap and recyclable, and we use them for everything from ice cream to muffins to cupcakes.

Soufflé cups have been quite popular lately as a vintage-looking cupcake liner. We use them for these quite a lot, especially when we need to bake big batches of muffins or cupcakes. You don't need a muffin pan when using these cups; you can just place them (and fill them) on a cookie sheet.

But we use these little paper cups for more than just cupcakes. We serve nuts or pretzels in them, with easy-grab convenience at big parties or events. We serve tiny treats in smaller cups — treats like cake balls or truffles. We also love serving ice cream in them. Look for a couple other uses coming up soon, too!

The one complaint we've heard about these soufflé cups is that they are hard to remove from muffins and cupcakes. These cups are tightly pleated and quite stiff, which is why they are so nice to bake with. But it makes them hard to remove from a baked cupcake.

There is a trick to them, though, and once you know this trick they are even more useful. Pull at an upper edge of the liner, and then, with thumb and finger, pull the pleats apart. Instead of pulling the liner away from the cupcake, you're loosening it, like a cinched-up bag. The liner will flatten out into the perfect little plate underneath your cupcake. Here's a little pictorial tutorial on how to do this!

One last tip on these little cups. You can find them at JoAnn's, Michael's, and other craft stores in the baking or party sections. They are usually called nut cups or portion cups. However, we really suggest not buying them there! They will be far more expensive there; you will pay more than twice as much for half as many. Instead, buy them at a restaurant supply house or catering shop like Gordon Food Service. We just bought a pack of 250 2-ounce cups at GFS for less than $2.

If you aren't near a restaurant supply store, you can also buy them online:

Soufflé/Portion Cups at Webstaurant Store.

Muffin and cupcake recipes:
Peach and Spice Tea Muffins (pictured above)
Recipe Review: Zucchini Muffins from Simply Recipes
Chocolate and Vanilla: Two New Favorite Cupcake Recipes

(Images: Faith Durand)