A curious, Australian spread known as Vegemite gives a mouthwatering, savory-salty flavor to this recipe. Make Vegemite and Cheddar Muffins.
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When I first created these savory, cheesy muffins it was right after I had seen a YouTube clip of American news anchors trying Vegemite on toast. Their reaction was mixed, to say the least. Opinions on this thick, savory spread are as strong as Vegemite itself, and you either love it or you hate it!
I have grown to love it, not only on toast but in these cheesy muffins.
A little history
Vegemite was invented in 1922 by Australian chemist Cyril Callister. He was hired to create a yeast extract spread similar to Marmite, an English product that was popular in Australia but difficult to import after World War I. Callister created his spread using discarded brewer's yeast from local beer breweries, and it was trademarked with the name Vegemite.
What does Vegemite taste like?
Vegemite is a very thick, dark brown paste that's really salty and has a pungent smell that's challenging to describe: kind of like dark, bitter beer, a bit like a very strong cheese, and also with notes of char.
Where can I find Vegemite?
Start by checking your local groceries to see if Vegemite is stocked there, especially stores with International aisles. Natural foods stores and specialty food shops are also good places to try.
I admit that I had no luck finding Vegemite in our stores here in Vermont, though a few did have jars of Marmite. In the end, I had to go to Amazon for my Vegemite, so that's always an option for you, too. It came in a little, squeezy tube!
Vegemite vs. Marmite
Armed with both Vegemite and Marmite, I found myself with a wonderful opportunity: to subject my loved ones to a taste test. (I'm sure my daughter is relieved that this taste test took place after she went back to college.)
Actor Hugh Jackman shared his tips for enjoying Vegemite with Jimmy Fallon on The Tonight Show. To summarize, here's what Mr. Jackman says to do:
- Get some white bread, the crappy, spongy, pre-sliced kind
- Lightly toast the bread
- Butter the toast
- Spread a tiny amount of Vegemite on the slice, about a ¼ teaspoon
I toasted wheat bread and spread one slice with a thin coating of Vegemite, and the other with Marmite. (I forgot the butter.)
The Marmite was up first. As my husband and son took their first, tentative bites, their reactions were... well, pretty much what I expected. Perhaps remembering the butter would have helped, but they both said the flavor was pretty strong and a little hard to take.
Next was the Vegemite toast. They bit into these slices with understandable reluctance... and found that the flavor of Vegemite was even more intense.
Vegemite is thicker than Marmite, and more bitter. It hits the back of the tongue with a slap, a salty, yeasty, umami overload.
My family does a lot of taste testing for me and I feel bad because I know I burned through some trust on this one! Next time, guys, some simple chocolate chip cookies. Promise.
Why you'll love this recipe
So maybe enjoying Vegemite straight up on toast is too much of a challenge, but as a backdrop for flavorful cheddar cheese and diced chives, I find Vegemite is very tasty!
That sharp, intense flavor is softened in the muffin batter. It's a great pairing with the sharp cheese and the light, oniony taste of fresh chives.
By some miracle, the boys agreed to try these muffins despite the experience of yeast extracts on toast, and to my relief, they agreed that Vegemite finds its redemption here.
🔪 How to make Vegemite and Cheddar Muffins
- Vegemite: Of course! It's available online but also check stores locally
- Cheddar Cheese: I use sharp cheddar; mild varieties will work, too
- All-Purpose Flour: King Arthur is my go-to brand
- Baking Powder: This helps the muffins rise
- Salt: Just a pinch
- Milk: It's the liquid in this muffin batter
- Eggs: Use two large eggs
- Butter: For flavor and a tender crumb
- Chives: Fresh chives give a mellow, oniony flavor
Step 1: Make the batter
Stir the dry ingredients together in one bowl, and the liquid ingredients, Vegemite, and chives together in another bowl. Gently mix the two together just until combined. Stir in the cheese.
Step 2: Put it in the muffin pan
Divide the batter between eight muffin wells lined with paper liners. Add more cheese to the tops.
Step 3: Bake
Bake the muffins until they're browned, but not too dark.
Step 4: Enjoy
Enjoy the muffins warm and spread with butter.
Taste them for yourself! The recipe for the muffins is below. And here are a few other treats you'll like:
💬 Have you tried these muffins? Leave a comment below.
Vegemite & Cheddar Muffins
- 2 cups all-purpose flour, unbleached
- 4 teaspoons baking powder
- ¼ tsp salt
- ¾ cup milk, room temperature
- 2 large eggs
- 6 ounces unsalted butter, melted
- ¼ cup Vegemite yeast extract spread
- 1 small handful of fresh chives, chopped (about ¼ cup once chopped)
- 1 ¼ cups shredded Cheddar cheese, divided
- Pinch of black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 400° F. Grease 8 wells of a regular muffin tin, or line them with paper liners.
- Mix together the flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Set this aside.
- Whisk together the milk, eggs, melted butter and Vegemite in a medium bowl. The Vegemite is very thick so scrape down the sides of the bowl several times to make sure it is all incorporated.
- Add the liquid ingredients and the chopped chives to the bowl of dry ingredients and stir everything together with a large wooden spoon or rubber spatula: it's important not to over-mix the batter, so use the spoon or spatula to stir with big strokes that get under all the ingredients and bring it all together quickly - a few floury lumps are okay. Stir one cup of the shredded Cheddar cheese through the batter.
- Divide the batter evenly between the 8 greased or lined muffin wells - they should ¾ to completely full. Sprinkle the remaining Cheddar cheese over the tops along with a little black pepper.
- Place the pan in the oven and bake the muffins for 15-17 minutes. The tops should be browned, but not too dark - so watch the muffins closely during the last few minutes. A toothpick inserted in the muffins should come out clean.
- Remove the pan from the oven and allow the muffins to cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Run a knife along the inside edges of the cups to release the muffins and place them on a cooling rack.
- The muffins are tastiest when enjoyed warm, split open with butter spread over the insides. They can be stored at room temperature for up to 3 days - reheat them gently in a toaster oven or for a few seconds in a microwave before enjoying.
- Makes 8 muffins.
- Try to find Vegemite at a store near you - look in their international section, and support them for carrying diverse products. If you have no luck locally you can get some online at this link.
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