In my family, cheese is a serious business. My great-grandfather started a store in Detroit’s Eastern Market that sold hundreds of specialty cheeses, and I grew up thinking that everyone started their holiday meals with a platter of at least four types of cheese. So when I tell you that these muffins are exactly the snack you want when you need a cheese fix but don’t want to eat an entire block of the stuff by yourself, you can trust me. They’re full of pockets of melting cheddar cheese, with a crispy parmesan bottom and top, and one is enough to satisfy even the most wicked of afternoon cravings. These muffins are the savory snack of my dreams.
It has been a humid 90 degrees for what feels like forever here, and I have been doing everything I can to avoid turning on my oven. We’ve been grilling our dinners as often as possible and doing every kind of water activity we can think of to stay cool. But I made an exception for these cheese muffins, because they are that good.
The recipe comes straight from The Cook’s Illustrated Baking Book, and I’ve made the quick bread version of this recipe many times before. But I wanted something portable and easy for the kids to grab, so I decided to use their muffin variation this time around. This is one of those simple recipes that doesn’t need any tinkering, so I can’t take any real credit for the final product. Really I just wanted to put it out into the world so that everyone can enjoy these cheesy little delights. And you should definitely get a copy of the book for yourself, because it’s full of can’t-miss baking recipes that I use in my own kitchen all the time.
I’m home full time with my two daughters this summer, and some days (especially the sweltering ones) it feels like all that happens around here is fighting and bickering punctuated by snack breaks. So my solution one steamy afternoon was to have the kids help me mix up this batter, which calmed everyone right down and let them eat the results warm out of the oven. The batter comes together in minutes, and the end results are the savory, cheesy snacks that will make even the crankiest of toddlers quiet down and eat up. In my book, that’s the perfect snack.
- ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
- 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ⅛ teaspoon pepper
- 1 cup cheddar cheese, cut into ½ inch cubes
- 1 cup whole milk
- ½ cup sour cream
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a muffin tin with butter or oil. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of the parmesan cheese over the bottom of each muffin cup, shaking the pan so that the cheese evenly coats the sides and bottom of each cup.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, cayenne pepper, and pepper. Mix in the diced cheddar cheese using a spatula, until all of the cubes are coated with flour.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the milk, sour cream, melted butter, and egg. Use the spatula to gently fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until just combined. Divide the batter evenly between the 12 muffin cups, then sprinkle the remaining parmesan cheese over the tops.
- Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until a tester inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. Let the muffins cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.