It all started with a recipe for Strawberry Brown Butter Bettys from Smitten Kitchen. I love individual servings -- they just feel so special -- and the sandwich bread crusts are simple and unexpected. From there, I got inspiration from tomato pie recipes that combine cheese and mayo to make a gooey filling. Since Brown Betty is traditionally a dessert made with fruit and buttered bread crumbs, you can consider these a delicious, savory cousin. - EmilyC —EmilyC
Test Kitchen Notes
Cherry tomatoes are summer's perfect food, and these little brown bettys might be summer's perfect bite. Warm out of the oven, they're ooey gooey and cheesy, with crispy bread edges. The tomatoes get perfectly warm and the bread crumbs absorb the tomato juices. I made a couple of changes to the recipe; I sprinkled some panko on the top of each tartlet and broiled them a little bit at the end, it gave them a nice browned color. I also swapped out ricotta for part of the mozzarella (and the mayo) and it worked great. These will definitely be in my appetizer rotation every summer! - nomnivorous —Emily Hanhan
slices white sandwich bread, crusts removed
extra-virgin olive oil, plus additional for brushing the muffin cups and both sides of each bread
cherry tomatoes, halved
mayonnaise (ricotta can be substituted)
basil, sliced, plus 1 to 2 tablespoons extra for serving
Lightly oil muffin cups. (I use a standard 12-cup muffin tin, and just leave four of the muffin cups empty.) Roll each of the 8 bread slices with a rolling pin to flatten. Brush both sides of each slice with olive oil, then gently fit the slices into the muffin cups.
**For a tidier, two-bite version, you can use a mini-muffin pan. Cut each of the 8 slices of bread in half (for 16 brown bettys), brush them with olive oil on both sides, and proceed with the rest of the recipe as written.
Combine tomatoes with the 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, mayo, lemon juice, basil, mozzarella, and salt and pepper. Fold in the panko until the mixture holds together -- you may not need the full 1/2 cup of panko, though I usually end up using the full amount.
Mound tomato mixture into muffin cups, pressing gently.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until filling is bubbling and crusts are golden brown. Let stand for 5 minutes before removing from pan. Sprinkle the crumbled bacon on top, if using, and a little extra basil. Serve warm or at room temperature.