The simple corn muffin is a beautiful thing. You can serve this make-ahead marvel as a side dish and then eat any leftovers for a quick breakfast.
But we can do better than just tossing some cornmeal in a bowl. These muffins are laced deliciously with shredded sharp cheddar and slivered jalapeños. The flavor combination is a perfect match.
For jalapeño prep, I recommend scraping out the seeds and then slicing 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 extent 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
egg, lightly beaten
unsalted butter, melted
sharp cheddar cheese, grated (1 cup)
Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 400°F. Lightly butter or line a standard 12-cup muffin tin with muffin liners — 9 cups for large muffins or all the cups for smaller muffins; set aside. Cut the jalapeño in half lengthwise and scrape out seeds. Thinly slice the pepper crosswise into half-moons.
Place the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl and whisk to combine. Stir in the milk, egg, and melted butter. Add the cheese and the jalapeño (reserving a few slivers of pepper to garnish the tops of the muffins) and fold to combine.
Divide the batter between the 9 or 12 muffin wells. Top each muffins with a sliver or two of jalapeño.
Bake the muffins until golden-brown and a tester inserted in the center of the muffins comes out clean, 15 to 20 minutes. Let cool briefly in the tin before removing 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.