Friday, February 7, 2014

New Order Jalapeño Cornbread Muffins

A change will do you good. This was confirmed when after 20 years, I decided to try a different recipe for corn muffins. Every good Southern cook has a favorite recipe for corn bread. Our go-to recipe had been Paul Prudhomme’s because the cornbread muffins served at K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen in New Orleans were the best we have ever tasted. Yet this recipe had never fully satisfied. It was not quite moist nor was it quite sweet enough. We tried adding more sugar and more butter to no avail.

So yesterday, I googled “best cornbread recipe” and got a proliferation of results. Most had one thing in common: eggs. Not just one or two of the oviparous zygotes, but a generous four or five. Other differences included a lack of milk or buttermilk and the use of oil instead of butter. Armed with these new variants, I embarked on a batch of corn muffins.

I thought back to those moist, mouthwatering little parcels of deliciousness from K-Paul’s kitchen and remembered that they had included whole kernel corn and fresh jalapenos. Such additions had never before found their way into a Romeo corn muffin. The only deviation from the former recipe was the infrequent pinch of cayenne pepper added to the batter. Yet with the creation of a new formula came a new confidence as well. I would stretch beyond my comfort zone and add that corn and those hot peppers.

So how did the new recipe turn out? {Pause to feel the suspense here.} Nailed it! They are super moist, sweet but not too sweet, fluffy, delicate, and just the right amount of kick from the jalapenos. Bite-sized awesomeness! Do not pass go, do not collect $100, go straight to the kitchen and make these muffins. NOW.

  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ½ cup warm water
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 ¼ cups cornmeal
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1-2 jalapeño peppers, seeded & chopped 
  • ½ cup whole kernel corn

Preheat your oven to 400° and grease 2 mini muffin pans or a 12-by-4½ -inch loaf pan. In a large mixing bowl, dissolve the sugar in the warm water and then stir in the vegetable oil.

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt. If you don’t have a flour sifter, whisk the dry ingredients to combine and fluff. Using an electric mixer beat the dry ingredients into the sugar-oil mixture. Add the eggs, corn and jalapenos and beat until just blended.

Spoon the batter in to the muffin pan. This is a messy business. Bake the mini muffins for about 15 minutes or until they are just golden brown and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. If the tops brown too quickly, you may cover them with foil. Turn the muffins out onto a rack to cool a bit before serving.

If you are using a bread pan, scrape all the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 45 minutes, until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean and the top is golden brown. Same deal with the foil if the top browns too quickly.

The corn bread muffins can be wrapped well and frozen for up to 1 week or kept at room temperature for 2 days.


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