The simple corn muffin is a beautiful thing. You can serve it as a make-ahead side dish for a summer BBQ and then reheat one of the leftover muffins for a quick breakfast.
But we can do better than just tossing some corn meal in a bowl. These muffins are laced deliciously with shredded sharp cheddar and slivered jalapeños. The flavor combo is a perfect match.
For jalapeño prep, I recommend scraping out the seeds and then slivering the pepper into half-rounds instead of dicing it. That will make the peppers really stand out in the finished muffin.
You might also think that a whole jalapeño is a lot for just a few small muffins, but the spice is mellowed by the roasting and also by the cheese, so don't fear the pepper.
Don't be afraid to really fill your muffin tin with the batter. These will puff nicely, but not to the extend of cupcakes. You don't need to worry about them overflowing.
I also like to top each muffin with a few slivered jalapeño slices for effect.
I'll argue that savory muffins are the ultimate accompaniment to a bowl of chili or juicy pulled pork. They've got great texture, thanks to the cornmeal, are salty and nutty, due to the cheddar, and have just the right amount of kick from the jalapeño. I actually lowered the amount of sugar originally called for in the recipe as I really felt it didn't need and it took away from the other great flavors.
- Sheela, March 2018
Jalapeño Cheddar Cornbread Muffins
Makes 9 large muffins or 12 small muffins
unsalted butter, melted
sharp cheddar cheese, grated (1 cup)
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Lightly butter or line a standard 12-cup muffin tin with muffin cups — 9 cups for large muffins or all the cups for smaller muffins. Cut jalapeño in half and scrape out seeds. Then thinly slice the pepper into half-round slivers.
In a large bowl, whisk together the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Stir in the milk, egg, and melted butter. Fold in cheese and the jalapeño, reserving a few slivers of pepper to garnish the tops.
Divide batter between 9 or 12 muffin tins. Fill any empty muffin tins half-full with water for even baking. Top the muffins with a sliver or two of jalapeño.
Bake the muffins until golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes. A tester should come out clean from one of the center muffins.
Let the muffins cool briefly before removing from the tin and serving.
Storage: Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days. To reheat leftover muffins, microwave for 20 seconds on high.