Corny “Muffcakes” with Honey-Chili Frosting and Candied Corn

I should tell you that I have this terrible (wonderful?) habit of mashing words together. I caught the bug a few years ago when some guy friends of mine joined a fantasy football league and kept referring to it as “mantasy football.” From then on, I saw every pair of words as an opportunity for word play. Buffalos in Yellowstone laying idly about became “loaffalos” and “blogurt” is the only logical term for the unfortunate condition resulting from over-consumption of frozen yogurt (ahem, completely hypothetical of course). Yes sir. Just call me Queen of the Frankenwords. All hail me!

So when some of my fellow bloggers were debating the merits of muffins and cupcakes over on Twitter, it’s not very surprising then that I spotted yet another opportunity. In a stroke of pat-myself-on-the-back genius (thank you thank you), I casually wondered if there’s such a thing as “muffcakes.” Next thing I knew, Mariko of The Little Foodie got wind of this made-up word/baked good and quickly became the second member of the newly-minted “muffcakes” fan club.

Our third member needed no recruiting, chiming in with a few salty comments and a proposal to make muffcakes a reality in a joint three-way post. So it came to be that, under the fearless leadership of Linda aka Salty Seattle, a muffcakes pact was formed. Soon after, it even became an international affair when Jackie of I Am a Feeder joined the pact. And when Annelies of La Vie en Route signed on, we had on our hands a party!

Without further ado, please allow me to present my corny(!) version of muffcakes, inspired by my love of all things cornbread-esque. I took Dorie Greenspan’s recipe for buttermilk corn muffins as the starting point and topped them with a Swiss-style meringue buttercream flavored with honey and chili powder. For decoration, I used corn kernels candied in brown sugar and yup, more chili powder. Verdict? Sweet, spicy, and buttermilk-tangy. Perhaps these should be a part of your new years festivities? Think about it. Counting down to 2011 with these in hand? 5…4…3…2…1…muffcakes!

2010 has been an incredibly fun and exciting year and I can’t wait to see what 2011 will bring. I wish all of you a very merry, very delicious new years full of great food, great laughs, and great friends.

As for the girls of the muffcakes pact, high-fives all around!

Oh and of course, you must check out what the others took “muffcakes” to mean:
– Mariko aka The Little Foodie
– Linda aka Salty Seattle
– Jackie aka I Am a Feeder
– Annelies aka La Vie en Route

The buttermilk corn muffins are taken directly from Dorie Greenspan’s recipe and although I will briefly reproduce it here, I highly suggest taking a look at the link because she gives many useful tips, especially if you’re new to baking.

I made the Swiss buttercream after consulting Smitten Kitchen, Global Gourmet, and Annie’s Eats, the latter of which has many useful tips in the comments.

Candied corn was adapted from this recipe over on Food Network.

For the corn muffins:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup coarse-ground yellow cornmeal
6 Tbsp sugar
2½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 cup buttermilk
3 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled completely
3 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten
1 cup frozen corn kernels

For the buttercream frosting: (I tend to go quite light on frosting, so feel free to double or triple this recipe depending on your frosting needs)
2 egg white
6 Tbsp honey
2 Tbsp sugar
pinch of salt
2 sticks of butter, softened at room temperature and cut into small cubes
chili powder to taste (optional)

For the candied corn:
a handful of frozen corn kernels
a skinny pat of butter
pinch of salt
1 tsp brown sugar
1 tsp honey
dash of chili powder (optional)

Make the muffins: Preheat oven to 400F and line a muffin pan with 12 paper liners (or alternatively, grease the tins with butter). In a large bowl, whisk together all the dry ingredients (flour, cornmeal, sugar, salt, baking powder, baking soda) until combined. In another bowl, combine all the wet ingredients (buttermilk, melted butter, oil, eggs) and whisk until well-mixed. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and with a spatula, fold everything together gently and quickly. You don’t need to go crazy mixing here and it’s actually better to err on the side of undermixing or the muffins might turn out tough. Add in the corn kernels and fold a few more times to incorporate. Divide batter amongst the muffin cups.

Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, until the tops of the muffins are golden brown and a toothpick or knife tip stuck into the centers comes out clean. Move muffin pan to cooling rack. Let cool completely.

While muffins are cooling, make the candied corn: In a small bowl, mix together salt, brown sugar, honey, and chili powder if using. Over medium-high heat, melt butter in a nonstick skillet until foamy. Add corn kernels and cook for 2-3 min until corn is tender. Add in sugar-honey mixture and toss to coat. Let cool.

And make the buttercream: Using a double-boiler or a heatproof bowl set over a pot of barely simmering water, whisk together egg white, honey, sugar, and salt until sugar is melted and the mixture thickens. You’ll need to whisk constantly here for about 7-10 min, until the mixture is hot enough that it’s uncomfortable to touch (test using a fingertip).

Remove from heat and whip the mixture until it forms stiff peaks. Add in two cubes of the butter and whip again until completely incorporated. Repeat until all the butter is used up. At some point, it will look like the buttercream is curdling but don’t worry, just keep mixing and it’ll eventually set up. Once all the butter has been added and the buttercream looks smooth, add in a dash of chili powder and mix well with a spatula. Taste a bit of the frosting and see if you want to add more chili powder.

Assemble the muffcakes: Since this is my first time frosting cupcakes, I’ll refer you to better resources instead. If you have a pastry bag, this post over on Eat, Live, Run has a great photo tutorial for frosting cupcakes. If you’re like me and don’t have a pastry bag, this post on Eat All About It has a video of a neat frosting technique. (As you can see above, I kind of winged it with a cheese knife and some improvised swirly pattern – not exactly professional but I’m still rather proud given it’s my first ever frosting attempt.)

Once frosted, sprinkle with candied corn and a little pinch of chili powder for color.

Yield: 12 muffcakes
Time: 1.5 to 2 hours


  1. Tiffany said:
    28 December 2010 at 4:31 pm

    Candied corn…not to be confused with candy corns! What a great idea!

  2. LimeCake said:
    28 December 2010 at 7:34 pm

    Such beautiful muffcakes! I really like that new word. Lovely work on the frosting too!

  3. Loren said:
    28 December 2010 at 9:16 pm

    I decided I wanted to track down the rest of the muffcake posts after reading Salty Seattle’s post yesterday. Of course you made it easy for me to find by making the top 9 today. Thanks for sharing and for expanding my vocabulary.

  4. Jenné said:
    29 December 2010 at 2:43 pm

    Wow, the idea of a muffcake makes me never want a muffin or a cupcake again. I love frosting, and I love muffins too much to go without one or the other any longer!

  5. shannon said:
    29 December 2010 at 9:10 pm

    Yum!! Candied Corn!! Totally awesome!! Congrats on making Food Buzz Top 9!!!

  6. Rajani said:
    3 January 2011 at 10:01 pm

    happy new year! muffcakes look very yummy… and simple recipe.. will try it soon.

  7. angi said:
    7 January 2011 at 5:54 pm

    Thanks so much for all the comments, everyone! Even though I couldn’t reply to them individually this time since I was in Hong Kong and fell way behind on all things web-related, I loved loved loved reading every single one of them. Happy new year!

  8. 10 January 2011 at 12:42 am

    They look so gorgeous! I’d love to try these :-)

  9. kelly said:
    13 January 2011 at 5:45 pm

    Hilarious — as is the urban dictionary when I’m in the right frame of mind. Lovely cupcakes, candied corn and all!

  10. 18 January 2011 at 3:52 pm

    They look delightful. I would love to try them.


  11. Stephanie said:
    18 January 2011 at 10:07 pm

    Hahaha this is great. Very clever and sounds delicious! I’ve never had a spicy muffin or cupcake (or muffcake…) but now I’m really curious.

  12. sippitysup said:
    26 January 2011 at 10:26 am

    Muffcakes are really making quite a stir. But its the ‘candy corn” that makes me go wow! GREG

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