Cheesy Jalapeno Cornbread
Perhaps it’s watching too many reruns of The Pioneer Woman. Perhaps it’s my subscription to Southern Living or the fact that we have Sweet Home Alabama DVRed. Maybe my pot of chili looked like it needed a friend. Whatever the reason, I can’t stop coming up with excuses to make this Cheesy Jalapeno Cornbread.
My first pan of Cheesy Jalapeno Cornbread occurred because I discovered a forgotten bag of cornmeal while cleaning out my pantry, and a cornbread craving that would register on the rector scale struck. That night, we had cornbread with grilled cheese. It was a little weird, but hey, is there ever actually a bad time for cornbread? If yes, I haven’t found it yet and plan to continue living in blissful ignorance.
The second pan was more logical. We were having leftovers of this dynamite Slow Cooker Turkey Quinoa Chili, and where chili goes, cornbread best follow. I alternated between dropping chunks into my chili to allow it to soak up the rich, spiced broth and drizzling pieces with honey to enjoy alongside. It was all things cozy and warm and wonderful.
The third pan was because my friend was making chili, and therefore she clearly was in need of cornbread to go along with it, so I a) invited myself over for dinner and b) brought a pan of Cheesy Jalapeno Cornbread to barter for my meal. Both parties were pleased with the exchange.
Although cornbread and I have a love for all seasons and even all meals (try a Raspberry Jam Corn Muffins for breakfast!), I crave it most especially in the fall and winter, beside my bowls of steaming soup. I’ve made many cornbread recipes over time, and this one has become both my go-to and my most requested. It takes fewer than 10 minutes to prep, is ultra tender and moist, and thanks to whole wheat pastry flour and Musselman’s Unsweetened Apple Sauce, it’s healthy too!
Unsweetened apple sauce is an ingredient I always have in my pantry, because it is one of my tried and true stealthy-healthy baking tricks. In nearly any quick bread recipe, you can swap at least half of the recipe’s called for quantity of oil or melted butter for the same amount of unsweetened apple sauce, with no noticeable difference in taste or texture. In fact, I feel so strongly about this technique, I even have an apple sauce page in my recipe index! From Sweet Potato Cookies to Honey Pecan Blondies to today’s Cheesy Jalapeno Cornbread, unsweetened apple sauce makes for moist, tender, and tasty baked treats, with a fraction of the fat and calories.
*Tip* If you don’t think you will go through an entire jar of apple sauce before it spoils, try purchasing the individual apple sauce cups. They last much longer in the pantry, can double for snacks, and each is about 1/4 cup, making for easy measuring during baking. (You can see the different sizes and varieties Musselman’s offers here.)
My favorite version of this cornbread recipe (and the one you’ll find below) includes a handful of chopped jalapenos for spice, scallions for balance and bite, and extra sharp cheddar for the ooey-gooey factor, but if you are looking for a simple cornbread, you can certainly leave out the mix-ins.
I’ve also witnessed a few colorful debates as to whether or not cornbread should include sugar—I grew up in a family that added it, so by way of birth, I prefer my cornbread a little bit sweet. Instead of sugar, however, I sweetened this cornbread recipe with a touch of honey, a lovely flavor with the cornmeal…and the extra honey I can’t seem to prevent myself from pouring over the top.
So…does anyone want to invite me over for chili? Guess what I’m bringing!
Cheesy Jalapeno Cornbread
- 1 cup yellow cornmeal
- 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder — plus 2 teaspoons
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup skim milk
- 2 large eggs — at room temperature
- 1/4 cup Musselman’s Unsweetened Apple Sauce
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1/2 cup freshly grated part skim sharp cheddar cheese
- 1/4 cup chopped green onions — white and green parts, plus additional 1-2 tablespoons for garnish (2-3 scallions total)
- 2 jalapeño peppers, — seeded and minced
In a large bowl, stir together the cornmeal, whole wheat pastry flour, baking powder, and salt. In a separate bowl or large measuring cup, combine the milk, eggs, apple sauce, oil, and honey.
Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients, then add the wet ingredients. Stir by hand, just until combined, then let the batter rest for 20 minutes. Stir in the cheese, 1/4 cup green onions, and jalapenos.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly coat an 8x8-inch pan with cooking spray.
Once the batter has rested, pour it into the prepared pan, then smooth the top. Sprinkle remaining green onions over the top. Bake until the top and edges are dry and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 24-29 minutes. Let cool, then slice and serve warm or at room temperature.
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