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QUICK CHEESE MUFFINS TK

Quick Cheese Muffins
9/2007

If using Asiago, choose a mild supermarket cheese that yields to pressure when pressed. Aged Asiago that is as firm as Parmesan is too sharp and piquant for these muffins. If, when testing the muffins for doneness, the toothpick comes out with what looks like uncooked batter clinging to it, try again in a different-—but still central—spot; if the toothpick hits a pocket of cheese, it may give a false reading. The texture of these muffins improves as they cool, so resist the urge to eat them while piping hot. Leftover cheese muffins are excellent toasted; toast halved muffins in a toaster oven or on a baking sheet in a 425-degree oven for 5 to 10 minutes. The muffins are best made with whole milk but will work with 2 percent milk. Do not use skim milk.

Makes 12 muffins 2 ounces Parmesan cheese , shredded on large holes of box grater (about 2/3 cup)
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (15 ounces)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon table salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
4 ounces extra-sharp cheddar cheese , cut into 1/4-inch cubes, or mild Asiago, crumbled into 1/4-inch pieces (about 1 cup)
1 1/4 cups whole milk
3 tablespoons unsalted butter , melted
1 large egg beaten lightly
3/4 cup sour cream

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 375 degrees. Spray standard-sized muffin pan with nonstick cooking spray, then sprinkle each muffin cup with about 1 teaspoon of Parmesan. Tap and shake pan so that cheese evenly coats sides and bottom of each cup.

2. In large bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, cayenne, salt, and pepper to combine. Using rubber spatula, mix in cheddar or Asiago, breaking up clumps, until cheese is coated with flour. In medium bowl, whisk together milk, butter, egg, and sour cream. Using rubber spatula, gently fold wet ingredients into dry ingredients until just combined (batter will be heavy and thick). Do not overmix. Using 1/4-cup measure or ice-cream scoop, divide batter evenly among muffin cups, dropping batter to form mounds. Do not level or flatten surfaces of mounds. Sprinkle remaining Parmesan evenly over surface of batter.

3. Bake until deep golden brown and toothpick or skewer inserted in center of muffin comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes, rotating pan halfway through baking. Cool in pan on wire rack 5 minutes; invert muffins from pan and continue to cool until warm, about 30 minutes.

STEP BY STEP: Cheese Muffins

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