Saturday, September 12, 2009

Mountain Delight: Strawberry-Chocolate Cornbread Muffins

By Cal Orey, The Writing Gourmet

The North thinks it know how to make corn bread, but this is a gross superstition. Perhaps no bread in the world is quite as good as Southern corn bread, and perhaps no bread in the world is quite as bad as the Northern imitation of it.”
--Mark Twain
It's Saturday night. I am home with my three fur children and six happy and healthy goldfish. An ex-flame called and asked "What are you doing?" I answered: "Baking." He was awestruck. Remember, I am the author always on a mission and stay(ed) out of the kitchen. It gets worse or better depending on how you look at it. I'm watching "Food Network." (I love the competition among the chefs.) But lately I've been wondering "What if I'm morphing into a Stepford wife or changing like the character in the classic film The Fly?" It's getting to the point if I don't have something baking in the oven I feel a gigantic void like when I'm not linked to a big book project. And I'm beginning to love the aroma in the house--like tonight...

Oh yeah. Last night I enjoyed the memorable scent of strawberries paired with a sweet, fresh muffin bakery smell. This morning I just ate and savored a strawberry chocolatey cornbread muffin teamed with a cup of French Roast coffee splashed with milk, and a glass of fresh orange juice. And this is how it all happened. Yesterday, I was going to create a special double crust apple pie. But at the last minute one of my ingredients was AWOL. So, I starting pondering, "What can I bake that is healthy, easy, and a bit of pre-fall mixed with late summer?" Cornbread (it has European roots) paired with strawberries! Like books and articles, when I googled this combo, I was surprised that it's been done. But, I did it my way--mountain-style with a taste of olive oil, dark chocolate chips (60% cacao), and a convenient store bought mix that boasts on the package "natural."
  • Sure, I could have whipped up a concoction of cornmeal and the other natural ingredients, but I took an alternative route. I snagged a packaged box of Krusteaz Natural Honey Cornbread and I'm glad I did. Krusteaz: "Homemade. Made Easy." I used organic 2% low-fat milk, one brown egg, and 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil. Because I live in high altitude (over 5,000 feet) I added 1 tablespoon wheat flour and 2 tablespoons milk. And the best part, I washed and quartered more than a cup of fresh late summer strawberries. (At Lake Tahoe these were priced at $4.99 a container--an autumn price. The other day, I scored two containers for $4.99--a summer bargain.) And last but not to be left out, I tossed in about a half cup of dark chocolate chips--they've got countless compounds that are oh so good for your mind, body, and spirit. I am a true Northerner (we are known to prefer a sweeter cornbread than Southerners.)
  • Next step. I simply poured the easy to mix batter mixed with my fave healthy ingredients into cupcake tins (standard and jumbo size) and popped these muffins into the oven for 20 minutes. The end result: Super moist muffins--not dry like cornbread can be. Each bite I could taste a burst of juicy sweet and a tad tart strawberry and the creamy bits of dark chocolate. No need for high fat butter or honey. And that's it. Bake these muffins up and you, too, can take a nice vacation to cornbread heaven.
  • These Krusteaz muffins provide you with some muscle-boosting protein, dietary fiber, and iron. While cornbread can be a tad high in sodium (of interest if you're watching your weight or strive to keep heart healthy), a serving size (2x2-inch piece) contains just 260 milligrams and a mere 110 calories. No cholesterol or trans fat (again, the stuff that clogs your arteries). And, of course, strawberries are chock-full of stress fighting, good for you antioxidant vitamin C, a flu-fighting must-have in September. These Strawberry-Chocolate Cornbread Muffins are a homey mountain delight without picking the berries or growing the corn. (Oh wow. "Barefoot Contessa" is on the tube. Yep, I'm changing like the seasons.)

1 comment:

  1. Try these. They are so good, whether you make 'em up with cornmeal or take the shortcut with the natural cornbread mix. Either way, the splash of strawberries will make a hit.