Monday, November 26, 2012

Muffin Monday/Gem and Pearl Breakfast Muffins

Today's recipe comes from The Cornbread Book which you may remember from this post.  These are fun muffins to make and to eat! Jeremy Jackson begins by saying:

Some will accuse these of being cupcakes in a cunning disguise. I plan to ignore such naysayers, cynics, and out-of-work poets and enjoy my muffins without worrying about semantics. The cream cheese buds that crown these muffins do resemble pearls, but the gems - the dabs of jam - are hidden inside. Freeze a whole batch of these for breakfast on the run. In a pinch, call them cupcakes and serve them for dessert. Just don't tell me about it.

Gem and Pearl Breakfast Muffins

1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup milk
 1/2 cup unsalted [I always use salted] butter, melted and slightly cooled
1 large egg

Jam or preserve of your choice
Cream cheese or Neufchâtel cheese (Unfortunately, low-fat versions tend to "melt" while baking, leaving you with a hole in your muffin. I call such muffins "Stolen Pearl Muffins" and they taste great, but don't look very nice.)
Turbinado sugar for sprinkling, optional

1. Preheat your oven to 375ºF.
Grease 12 muffin cups with vegetable shortening or nonstick cooking spray [what I did] or line them with paper.

2. Sift the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt into a medium bowl.
Separately whisk together the milk, butter, and egg.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir quickly until everything is just combined - there should still be some tiny lumps in the batter.

3. Fill each muffin cup one-third full with batter.
In the middle of each cup place about 1 teaspoon of jam or preserves.
It helps to make a little well in the batter to hold the jam, otherwise it may leak out the sides of the muffin.
On the other hand, don't make a well so deep that the jam's actually resting right on the metal of the muffin pan.

4. Fill the muffin cups with the rest of the batter, so that each cup is about two-thirds full.
Smooth the batter tops to cover any jam that may be peeking through.
Take teaspoon-size balls of cream cheese (a melon scoop works well) and push one into the top of each muffin.
Don't push them too far - just so they're about half buried.
Sprinkle turbinado sugar [I used regular sugar] over the muffin tops, if desired.

5. Bake the muffins for 18-20 minutes, until golden and firm.

Jeremy offers some alternatives:

Berry Muffins: Instead of jam and cream cheese, stir 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, or other berries into the batter.
Cherry-Chocolate Muffins: Instead of jam and cream cheese, stir in 1/2 cup dried cherries and 1/2 cup semisweet, bittersweet, or white chocolate chips.

My cream cheese 'pearls' sunk into the muffin, and the muffins were a little bit hard to remove from the pan, but did that spoil the taste? Not a bit! These are really a delightful treat whether you call them muffins or cupcakes. We had them, not for breakfast but for supper, with Bean, Lentil, and Grains Stew. Perfect. The sweetness of the muffins balances the heartiness of the stew. I will certainly make these muffins again. They are so good.

You may well ask, where's the jam?

I think it must have sunk down through the muffin into the pan. And that's why they were a little tough to remove. But it matters not at all. These are great muffins! Don't be afraid to try them. They are fun to make, and delicious to eat regardless of how they cook.


  1. Cornbread muffins are my favorite, and this recipe sounds just great. your winter header.

    1. They are certainly unique, and delicious!
      Thanks about the photo.

  2. I will try these but I have to be careful. I must not mess up my husband's muffin tins! I love your photo of them, with that crispy crust, they look delicious!

    1. I just soaked them and put them in the dishwasher, and they were fine, so don't worry!

  3. Quite an unusual recipe; this looks and sound like a great thing to make when inviting friends over - just needs deciding whether they should be served for dessert or as a side dish, like Yorkshire puddings :-)

  4. I just downloaded this. I will try these later this week when night shifts are done! I no longer buy anything baked, including bread. I make my own everything, though I do cheat sometimes with commercial pie crust and all the time with Pepperidge Farm puff pastry sheets and shells. Hope you are having a pleasant week after the holidays Nan!

  5. Last night, I made Fluffy Muffins from a recipe you posted a little while ago. Delicious! Soon I'll be making these pearl muffins. My family loves muffins, and it's great to have new recipes to try. Thanks, Nan!

    1. That is just so great!!
      I love them too and my muffin monday is a little nudge to myself to make them more often. :<)

  6. Oh, YUM! Cream cheese in muffins, I've never tried that. These look so moist!


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