The last time I participated in Tami's Food Network Friday, I made Pretzel-Fried Tofu with Mango-Onion Gravy, which was delicious and outside the norm of what I tend to create in my kitchen. Though it's been a good while since I've played along and veganized a Food Network recipe, the idea has been hanging out in the back of my head, just waiting for the right moment.
This time around, the selection was "Bacon Corn Muffins with Savory Cream Cheese Frosting", which sounded like too much fun not to try. The idea is to make adorable mini-muffins of cornbread with chunks of bacon, and top the muffin with a spoonful of a savory-sweet icing, complete with more bacon and some sliced chives. Now, I've made cornbread many a time, but never as mini-muffins, or with icing.
The changes I made to the original recipes were obvious - substituting the bacon for a vegan version and replacing the egg. I also wanted to make a more healthful version of the original by replacing the cream cheese with a cream made from cashews, and I opted for whole wheat flour instead of white.
I don't find the inclusion of whole wheat flour to hurt cornbread at all - in fact, I adore its slightly more toothsome bite. The only thing that happens with whole wheat cornbread is the yellow color becomes a lot more subtle. But that's an okay trade-off, I think.
Logan and I both really enjoyed these with a big bowl of chili (is there anything better than the classic combo of chili and cornbread?), and we mutually recommend adding in a lot of hot sauce and/or cayenne to the frosting to give these muffins a kick, which adds a nice contrast to its slight sweetness.
Bacon Corn Muffins with Savory Cashew Cream Frosting
Adapted from the Food Network
Makes 24 mini-muffins
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup non-dairy milk
1/4 cup melted vegan margarine
1 cup prepared vegan bacon, chopped small (I use the bacon crumble recipe from 500 Vegan Recipes, but store-bought would work too)
For the frosting:
1 cup raw cashews
1 1/2 - 2 tablespoons hot sauce
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon light agave or sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons water, for consistency
4 green onions, sliced
1. Preheat the oven to 375 F and spray a 24-count mini muffin tray with cooking spray. In a large bowl, combine the whole wheat flour, cornmeal, brown sugar, cornstarch, baking powder and salt and stir. Add the non-dairy milk and melted margarine and stir just to combine. Fold in 3/4 cup of the vegan bacon, reserving the rest for garnish. Spoon tablespoon-sized portions of batter into each muffin tin, which should almost fill the tin. Bake for 10-12 minutes until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Let the muffins cool in the tin for a few minutes, and then transfer them to a cooling rack to cool completely.
2. To make the frosting: In batches, grind the cashews to a powder in a coffee grinder. Add the powder to a small blender, along with the hot sauce, lemon juice, agave, salt and water. Blend until smooth - if the mixture is too dry, add 1 tablespoon of water at a time until you have a spreadable icing. Stir in 3/4 of the green onions, reserving the remainder for garnish.
3. Once the muffins have cooled completely, spread about 1 teaspoon of icing on each one, and top with a few bacon pieces and green onion slices. Repeat for all 24 muffins. Serve with chili and enjoy!
Now that Thanksgiving has come and gone for all of us, I'm finally ready to accept the upcoming reality of Christmas. Which is really exciting, because everyone knows it's the time of year where the yummiest baking is born. Plus, come on - who doesn't love Christmas? It's got all that old-fashioned charm and warmth of fireplaces and family and good food. However, Christmas this year is going to be a tad unusual for me...but more on that in a later post. :)
Take care and happy eating, and I hope to see you all soon with some successful baking!