The simple corn muffin is a beautiful thing. You can serve it as a make-ahead side dish for a summer barbecue and then reheat one of the leftover muffins for a quick breakfast.
These muffins are laced deliciously with shredded sharp cheddar and slivered jalapenos.
For jalapeno prep, I recommend scraping out the seeds and then slivering the pepper into half-rounds instead of dicing it. You might also think that a whole jalapeno is a lot for just a few small muffins, but the spice is mellowed by the roasting and also by the cheese.
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 jalapeno slices for effect.
Jalapeno-cheddar corn muffins
Makes 9 large muffins or 12 small muffins
1 large jalapeno pepper
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1 large egg
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, grated
Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Lightly butter a 12-cup muffin tin - 9 cups for large muffins or all the cups for smaller muffins. Cut the jalapeno in half and scrape out the seeds. 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 the cheese and the jalapeno, reserving a few slivers of pepper to garnish the tops.
Divide the 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 jalapeno.
Bake the muffins until golden brown, for 20 to 24 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.
To reheat leftover muffins, microwave for 20 seconds on high.