Baked Eggs in Ham Cups

This dish is simple to make but very attractive—the pastry chef in me loves that. Lining muffin tins with ham serves two purposes: It creates an edible container for the eggs, and it adds flavor. You can replace the mozzarella with another kind of cheese if you want a stronger cheese flavor; using fresh mozzarella makes this an authentic Italian dish, but its flavor is quite mild. When you’re eating with guests, these are probably going to be knife-and-fork food—but when I was testing the recipe, I ate them with my hands, and that works too.

1 teaspoon unsalted butter for the tins
Four 1/16-inch think round ham slices (the largest you can find at the deli)
1 teaspoon pesto, homemade or store-bought
8 large eggs
Eight 1/4-inch cubes fresh mozzarella
4 cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Heat the oven to 375°F (190°C).

2. Butter 4 compartments of a metal muffin tin. Fold each ham slice into quarters, insert the point end in a buttered muffin cup, and let it open—it will have a ruffled look. Place 1/4 teaspoon pesto in the bottom of each ham cup, then carefully crack 2 eggs into each cup. (Sometimes I crack my eggs into a pitcher with a pour spout or into a small paper cup and pour them into the ham cup from there.) Tuck 2 mozzarella cubes and two cherry tomato halves into each cup on top of the eggs, and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. (Remember that the ham and pesto both lend saltiness to the dish.)

3. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the egg white looks set but the yolk is still a bit runny. Remove the ham cups from the muffin tin and serve them in small bowls or lined up on a platter.