“Sabe como tamal de elote.”
That’s what Ben told me when I gave him one of these muffins. I think he was referring to the sweet corn tamales, tamales de elote, not the savory meat-filled kinds, that one can find in most latino grocery stores and pastelerias.
I’ll take that as a compliment.
The inspiration for these has less to do with tamales and more to do with recipes online that utilize prunes in sweets, and how other countries use prunes in many different desserts, and as fillings in pastries, including prunes soaked in different kinds of liqueurs. Sadly, I think most people in the US think of prunes mostly as “health food”; something that “keeps you regular”. Other countries look at it differently.
We had some amaretto kept in the cupboard just waiting to be used. I wanted to add amaretto-soaked prunes to a simple cornbread muffin, because I think these cornmeal muffins have a sweet but slightly crispy element to it that are similar to the tarts, breads, and pastries that I saw online.
The cheese came to me as a spur of the moment decision. I stopped by the deli on my way home to get something to drink and saw a small wheel of Gouda. I thought that adding this cheese would go well with the prunes. After all, fruit and cheese usually go well together, right? I almost bought the smoked variety. Almost. I decided that might be a bit too savory. It turns out that you can barely detect the Gouda in these, even though I added 6 ounces. So maybe smoked Gouda would have been better. Maybe next time. I also might add more prunes next time, and chop it more finely, or put it through a food processor to make it more like a thick paste that I can use to create more of a marbled effect. Do get me wrong, I think they are fine as they are, but these are just a few things I might do differently next time.
These are some ambiguous are-they-sweet-or-are-they-savory muffins. I’d say a balance of both. I guess I’ve always been attracted to recipes that have both sweet and savory elements in them.
But don’t just take my word for it, try it! I hope you enjoy!
Gouda and Amaretto Prune Corn Muffins (based on the box recipe of Albers Yellow Cornmeal)
1 and 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2/3 cup sugar
1 and 1/4 cup milk, room temperature
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/3 cup vegetable oil
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
6 ounces large grated smoked gouda
20 pitted prunes, roughly 6 ounces
3/4 cup of amaretto liqueur
Soak prunes in amaretto for several hours to overnight. Drain, coarsely chop prunes and set aside.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease muffin tins. You’ll need about 20. It depends how much you fill each one.
Sift flour, cornmeal, baking powder, salt, nutmeg, and sugar. Stir with a whisk in a bowl to mix well. Set aside.
In another bowl, add eggs, oil, butter, and milk. Mix well with a whisk. Make a well in the flour mixture, add the milk and egg mixture and stir with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula. Stop when just blended. Add the gouda cheese and prunes and fold them into the batter again with a spoon or spatula.
Add to muffin tins, filling each greased muffin mold to about 2/3 full. You should have between 15-20 muffins. I had 19 muffins.
Bake for 15-20 minutes. I took them out after 15 minutes, because the tops were firm and the edges are slightly brown, but ovens vary. Cool in pans for 5 minutes, then remove to wire racks to cool slightly. Best when served warm. Enjoy, and thanks for stopping by!