Halloumi Muffins.
Photo: Ligaya Figueras
Photo: Ligaya Figueras

Halloumi cheese lends texture, flavor to savory muffins

Whenever the holiday season approaches, I look for ways to give familiar, crowd-pleasing dishes a dash of unexpected fa-la-la flavor.

That’s not hard to do with savory muffins, which have a dedicated spot on my brunch spread. The batter can be scenty with herbs or meaty with ham bits. Lately, I went the cheesy route using a recipe from cookbook author Laura Goodman’s “Carbs” (Quadrille, $22.99).

Halloumi Muffins are among the more than 85 recipes that embrace carbohydrates in “Carbs” by Laura Goodman (Quadrille, February 2019).
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Goodman’s muffins put the spotlight on halloumi, an eastern Mediterranean cheese. Made from sheep’s or goat’s milk and preserved in whey, the cheese can range from semisoft to firm in texture, and offers a slightly salty flavor.

Because of its high melting point (that makes it ideal for grilling or frying), this cheese will hold its shape in a baked goods recipe as opposed to melting into gooeyness. Here, the result is a moist muffin studded with salty white chunks plus flecks of green from grated zucchini and mint and a gorgeous golden top.

A mind-blowing muffin? No. But certainly tasty enough to keep the crowd merry during the holidays.

“If you were to put them on a table with some other brunch items – in a spread scenario – these muffins wouldn’t be the showstopper, but they’d be the thing everyone wanted more of,” writes Goodman.

That’s my experience, too, especially when they’re served straight out of the oven.

Halloumi Muffins from “Carbs” by Laura Goodman (Quadrille, $22.99). LIGAYA FIGUERAS/LFIGUERAS@AJC.COM
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Recipe: Halloumi Muffins
  • 1 medium zucchini
  • 2 ¼ ounces (2/3 cup grated) Cheddar cheese, divided
  • 4 ½ ounces halloumi cheese (3/4 cup when cut into 1/2-inch cubes)
  • 1 red chili, seeded and minced (optional)
  • 1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 ½ teaspoons dried mint (substitute with 1 ½ tablespoons freshly chopped mint)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Prepare a muffin tray (either butter it or spray with nonstick cooking spray).
  • Coarsely grate the zucchini. Then, take clumps of it in your hand and squeeze out all the excess moisture. Set aside in a bowl.
  • Grate the Cheddar and cut the halloumi into ½-inch cubes. Add two-thirds of the Cheddar (reserve the remaining cheddar, which you’ll use on the muffin tops), the halloumi and the chili, if using, to the zucchini. Set aside.
  • Put the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, pepper and mint in another bowl, and mix with a whisk.
  • In another bowl, whisk together the eggs, yogurt and olive oil until smooth.
  • Using a spatula, fold the flour mix into the yogurt mix, until there are no floury pockets. It’ll look quite stiff and dry but that’s OK – the zucchini will help. Add the grated zucchini and cheese mix and fold it through.
  • Spoon the batter into the prepared tray – pile it high because the muffins won’t rise very much. Sprinkle the remaining Cheddar over the muffin tops. Bake 30–35 minutes or until the tops are domed and golden. Makes 10-12 muffins.

Nutritional information

Per serving: Per muffin, based on 12: 195 calories (percent of calories from fat, 50), 8 grams protein, 17 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram fiber, 11 grams fat (3 grams saturated), 52 milligrams cholesterol, 339 milligrams sodium.

Adapted from “Carbs” by Laura Goodman (Quadrille, 2019).

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