Coupla snow days + unlimited roasted cornmeal = truly inspired corn muffins
I have to admit, I’ve been developing this recipe in my head for a couple weeks now. Our roasted cornmeal has inspired several dishes in our household, like this one, and this one. But the quest for the killer corn muffin has been one disappointment after another. Even my favorite sources for new ideas, like Saveur, contained no real inspiration.
So this weekend, with a few inches of snow in the Carolinas, and a pantry full of promising ingredients, I reached deep inside to pull out this bad boy:
Buttermilk Roasted Corn Muffins with Bacon-Infused Maple Cream Cheese Filling
Behold the splendor of bacon, and corn, and cheese:
Yes, that’s right. An incredible, Roasted Cornmeal Buttermilk Corn Muffin. With unbelievable Bacon-Infused, Maple Cream Cheese. Thought about using that cheesy, porky goodness as an evil icing, of sorts, then realized what had to be done: fill a piping bag, insert the tip in the top of the muffin, and fill that thing like a possessed Twinkie.
Here’s how it’s done.
For the muffins:
2 cups flour
2 cups Roasted Cornmeal
1/2 cup honey
4 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups buttermilk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
Mix all ingredients well. You know the drill – first dry, then wet, then combine. Fill into muffin pans and bake at 400F for about 25 minutes, or till toothpick comes out clean. Makes about 20 regular sized muffins. After baking, place onto a cooling rack for about 15 minutes while you whip up the filling; don’t fill them hot, because the cheese will melt and it just makes a mess.
For the filling:
At least 2 slices bacon for rendered fat and garnish
2 cups room-temperature whipped cream cheese
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
Cook the bacon till crisp. Reserve 1 tablespoon bacon fat and allow to cool to room temp (10 minutes or so). Mix the cheese, syrup and bacon fat. Chop 1/2 slice of bacon and reserve for garnish. If you prefer a vegetarian muffin, skip the bacon entirely.
When the muffins are approaching room temp, put the cheese in a piping bag, insert the tip just into the top of the muffin, and squeeze out a few tablespoons into the muffin. Withdraw the tip with a slight flourish. Garnish the cheese with bacon bits.
The muffin is slightly sweet, with a crisp crust that has an aroma of graham crackers. The filling is smokey and slightly sweet, with a pleasant creaminess that in the yin to the yang the crumb texture. The crunchy bacon bits are the perfect finish, with a salty flavor and light crunchiness that are a perfect compliment to the finished product.
Thoughts on future versions: maybe add some chopped jalapenos to the muffins, infuse some herbs into the hot bacon fat (bay laurel comes to mind), experiment with different cheeses (goat chevre, anyone?) . Bigger muffins, maybe a little more leavening agents, a little convection in the last five minutes of the baking cycle. I’ll be working on this recipe a little more in upcoming weeks.
Leave your suggestions and feedback!