Mildly Corny Cheddar Pepper Muffins

A year or so ago we tried a recipe and fell in love. Actually the object of our devotion was the flavor of those muffins: peppery and cheesy.

Sadly, the texture of the muffins was spongelike, a bit reminiscent of those big yellow holey rectangles found at the auto store. You know, the sponges that you can fill up with amazing amounts of bubbles and are perfect for slinging at your friends while you’re having a car wash? Sorry; not really the topic at hand. But I think you know what I mean. Good for car washes; not ideal for muffins. 

So here we are, craving those savory muffins with warm sparks of heat and melty cheddar goodness. What’s a girl to do? Whip up a new recipe, of course! I knew I wanted it to be light in texture, and my instinct said that these muffins needed just a wee bit of corn flavor. Not a lot! Mind you, we love corn muffins, but these didn’t want to be your average corn muffin. They wanted to be a slightly different muffin that went with more meals than their more rustic cousins.

Here’s the result: cheese, black pepper, and the barest hint of corn. And yes, they’re light in texture! I love it when a plan comes together.

P.S. – [One of] The secret(s) of good muffins? Don’t overmix them!
P.P. S. – These are really great reheated for breakfast. Ask me how I know.

Mildly Corny Cheddar Pepper Muffins
(printer friendly version)

makes 12 muffins
1/2 cup masa de harina
1 1/2 cups flour
2 Tbsp sugar
3 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup sour cream
1 Tbsp oil
1 egg
3/4 tsp ground black pepper
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded or diced
Preheat oven to 425F.
In a mixing bowl combine masa, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Stir to blend dry ingredients. Add black pepper and cheddar and mix to distribute evenly.
In another bowl combine milk, buttermilk, sour cream, oil and egg. Mix well.
Add wet ingredients to dry and stir very briefly. There should be no ‘standing’ wet ingredients, but the mixture should still retain a bit of lumpiness from the flour mixture. Do not overmix!
Pour batter into 12 greased muffin cups. Bake at 425F for 25-35 min. or until tester inserted in center  comes out clean and muffins are just beginning to brown.
Let cool slightly in pan for about 10 minutes before serving.
*Masa can usually be found in the International food aisle at your local grocer. If you don’t have it, just substitute a finely ground cornmeal (you can whiz it in a food processor to grind it finer) or regular flour. Neither will produce exactly the same result or flavor, but should still make great muffins.
*Feel free to use another cheese in place of the cheddar. For best results, choose a cheese that melts well and has a distinctive flavor.

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6 responses to “Mildly Corny Cheddar Pepper Muffins

  1. I found you through Pioneer Woman’s Tasty Kitchen website. I have this huge bag of masa harina and I’ve finally found a recipe to use it with! Nice site you have here!

    • Hi, and thanks! I know what you mean about the Masa Harina. I use it to thicken chili, too, when I’m in a hurry and don’t have time to let it simmer as long as I’d like.

  2. These look and sound delicious will try soon!

  3. Is there anything I can substitute for masa de harina? I live out in the sticks and won’t be going to the city for awahile

    • Hi up there in Australia! Thanks for stopping by.

      To answer your question, absolutely! If you have regular cornmeal, that will work, and whizzing it a bit in a food processor will make it more texturally similar to masa. All purpose flour will also work, although both it and cornmeal will yield slightly different results in the muffin texture, of course.

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