You thought the cupcake craze would just fizzle out? No chance. It's just moving away from sweet and into the direction of the savory.
At Trader Joe's in New York, they're selling frozen turkey meatloaf muffins, topped with spinach and mashed potatoes, which, by all accounts, are particularly good. Meanwhile, in Los Angeles, the entertainment industry's latest obsession is lasagna cupcakes.
Lasagna cupcakes, or individual lasagnas in the shape of cupcakes, are the creation of Heirloom-LA, a catering company based in Eagle Rock, a town near Silverlake. About 18 months ago, Matt Poley, a partner in the company, said a parent had requested macaroni and cheese for a children's party, "but doesn't a big dish of macaroni and cheese look so unappealing?" he asked on a recent visit to his kitchen. "So we made individual macaroni and cheese, and we realized we could do this with every type of lasagna."
"The truth is," Mr. Poley went on, "it's kind of hard to dog on a lasagna cupcake. As long as they aren't scalding hot, you can eat them with your hands. In fact, we encourage it. You might get some spillage, but not a lot."
The lasagna cupcakes are so great "because they're all corners, they're a wall of crust," said Jenni Konner, a television writer, who has regularly served and seen them at parties around town. "And I hate the cupcake trend."
On a recent afternoon, Mr. Poley demonstrated how to make an artichoke lasagna cupcake. The pasta is cooked from scratch with eggs and flour; then it goes into a pan, and is cut into sheets. Three sheets, about half the size of a ruler, are placed in a cupcake dish, crossed inside the pan. Three layers of mozzarella cheese, bechamel cream sauce, artichoke, some wild arugula and a little parmesan cheese are added. Then the pasta is folded over, and "there you go, that's a lasagna cupcake," he said.
Mr. Poley makes the lasagna cupcakes in all different sorts of flavors. A dozen of them are standard, including the mac and cheese, a Bolognese and one with short ribs. Others depend on the season.
"It's all market driven," said Mr. Poley, who is working on a cookbook tentatively titled "Animals and Cupcakes.
"When corn rolls around, we'll make them with corn. Or sweet peas. It's really hard to do pumpkin year-round. Maybe we'll come back from a party with some pork ribs that went uneaten and make some barbecue pork rib lasagna cupcakes. That's where our beef stroganoff idea came from. We just lasagna cupcake'd it."
Dana Fox, the screenwriter of "Couples Retreat" and "What Happens in Vegas" had lasagna cupcakes at her wedding in Virginia. "Brides aren't supposed to eat, but I couldn't stop," Ms. Fox said. "They're uniformly delicious. If you thought a beet lasagna cupcake was disgusting, you'd be wrong. This just in: it was delicious, too."
Mr. Poley said that Heirloom sold about 10,000 lasagna cupcakes in December. At the moment, his catering kitchen -- which has 15 people making lasagna cupcakes, as well as new offerings like tamales and pizza bread pudding -- can produce 200 to 300 a day. The cupcakes are available in freezers around the city of Los Angeles and for mail order to -- yes, New York City -- in frozen packs at the company's website.