I don’t know about you, but I get excited at the sight of melty cheese. And surprise melty cheese?! Even better! From the outside, these just look like cute little corn cakes. But as soon as your spoon digs in, warm liquid cheese starts to ooze out, delighting all who witness its cheesy glory.
Try serving these on their own as a fun side dish, on top of black bean soup, or my Quick and Easy Black Bean Chili. I even considered just eating these right out of the ramekin, no spoon, just Doritos as a scoop. Would have happened, but I didn’t have any Doritos on hand. Please someone try that and let me know how it is.
The trick to the right consistency of cheesy ooze is to make a thick cheese sauce and refrigerate it until it is firm enough to scoop out and place in the center of the cornbread batter. I learned this through trial and error: just plain cheese center ≠ ooze. Too much cheddar = ooze + oil slick (definitely detracts from the cheese glory!). This filling strikes the perfect balance, with some cream cheese and sour cream for smoothness, and of course the chopped jalapenos add a nice spicy finish. You will have some down time while the cheese sets in the fridge though – just sneak into the living room to watch TV for a bit. Tell your significant other and/or kids not to bother you because you are preparing something really delicious for them to eat, which is technically true.
When unmolding these, you can wait a minute or two after you take them out of the oven and the cheese will still be liquidy. But the ramekins will still be hot, so here’s what I did to not burn my fingers: put a small plate on top of the ramekin, flip to unmold onto the plate, then pull off the ramekin. Using a dish towel or a grippy oven mitt will give you much better control than a plain pot holder. Also, not getting cooking spray all over the outside of the ramekin (like I did) really helps in this endeavor. Then if you want to add it to chili or soup, just slide it off the plate with a spatula. Or, just forget all that biz and eat it out of the ramekin with Doritos, I think you will be just as pleased.Print
Slightly sweet cornbread cakes with a molten cheddar jalapeno filling
- 1/2 c. flour
- 1/2 c. cornmeal
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. baking powder
- 1/2 c. milk
- 1/3 c. butter
- 2 tbsp. honey
- 1/2 large jalapeno (will use other half in cheese filling)
Jalapeno Cheese Filling
- 1 tbsp. butter
- 2 tsp. flour
- 6 tbsp. milk
- 1 c. shredded sharp cheddar cheese (about 4 oz.)
- 2 oz. cream cheese
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1/4 tsp. black pepper
- 2 tbsp. finely chopped jalapeno (about 1/2 large jalapeno)
- 2 tbsp. sour cream
Make cheese filling:
- Shred cheddar cheese (see note below). Cut jalapeno in half crosswise, set 1 half aside. Finely chop other half (should be about 2 tbsp.). Can use more or less jalapeno depending on your taste.
- Melt 1 tbsp. butter in small saucepan on medium heat. Add in 2 tsp. flour, whisk until no lumps remain and mixture is slightly bubbly, 1-2 minutes.
- Add in 6 tbsp. milk, keep whisking until mixture is smooth and has thickened, 2-3 minutes.
- Reduce heat to low. Add cheddar cheese and cream cheese and whisk until melted.
- Turn off heat and add in 2 tbsp. jalapeno, 2 tbsp. sour cream, salt and pepper. Whisk to combine.
- Pour cheese mixture into a bowl, place plastic wrap on top of surface and refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.
Make cornbread batter and assemble cakes (can start this step about 45 minutes after cheese filling goes into the fridge):
- Preheat oven to 350°.
- Prep ramekins: grease 4 ramekins, place on baking sheet. Thinly slice remaining 1/2 jalapeno crosswise to make 12 rings. Arrange 3 rings in the bottom of each ramekin. Set aside.
- Make cornbread batter: whisk together ½ c. flour, ½ c. cornmeal, salt and baking powder. Measure milk, add egg to milk and whisk together. Add milk and egg mixture to dry ingredients, whisk briefly until dry ingredients are moistened. Melt 1/3 c. butter in microwave (about 40 seconds). Add 2 tbsp. honey to warm butter and stir together, then add honey butter mixture to batter. Whisk until smooth and most of the lumps are gone.
- Prep corn cakes for oven: spoon a couple tbsp. batter into each prepped ramekin. Scoop out ¼ of the firmed cheese mixture and form into rough ball, small enough that it does not touch the edge of the ramekin. Place on top of batter. Repeat with remaining ramekins. Evenly distribute remaining batter between ramekins, completely covering the cheese mixture.
- Bake in oven until edges are brown and top is set, about 25 – 27 minutes. Let cool for 2-3 minutes before unmolding (see intro above for unmolding tips).
Block cheddar that you shred yourself is more work but will lead to a smoother filling; pre-shredded cheese has additives to keep the shreds separated, which will give a slightly grainy texture when melted.