Meatloaf Cupcakes

I like meatloaf. There, I said it.

Meatloaf has a reputation for being greasy, boring and, worst of all, bland. My kids won’t eat regular meatloaf – but, I must admit, there are still days when I crave it. My mother used to make the traditional meatloaf, a blend of ground round and breadcrumbs, topped with either ketchup or tomato sauce. I’d happily eat it for dinner and leftovers.

So how do you make kids eat something they loathe? Reinvent it. I mean, who can resist something that looks like a cupcake, but tastes like a meal? These meat muffins really do look like dessert cupcakes. I even serve them in cupcake papers to add to the effect.

To make these savory meatloaf cupcakes, I use my favorite meatloaf recipe and then divide the meat equally into regular-sized muffin tins. Usually a standard recipe makes about 14 to 16 cupcakes. Lightly grease the muffin cups and fill to the top (remember that the meat will shrink while cooking). Allow the meat muffins to cool slightly before you try to get them out of the pan.

While the meatloaf muffins are cooling, I get to work on the "frosting." Whip up a batch of mashed potatoes, or you can add a little more color by mixing regular potatoes (I prefer Yukon Gold) and some sweet potatoes. Make sure that your mashed potatoes are extra creamy. I use plenty of milk and sour cream, along with my handheld mixer to create fluffy, airy potatoes. Add the potatoes to a pastry bag fitted with a large-sized star tip.

Place the meat muffins onto a baking pan and swirl the potatoes on each one. (You can just spoon the potatoes onto the muffins, but for a more realistic effect, the pastry bag does the trick!) Place the cupcakes into the oven set to broil and bake until the tops are just slightly golden.

These cupcakes make for a fun meal. My kids are always begging me to make these when friends come over for dinner: Their buddies think it’s cool we have dessert for dinner!

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