In my mind, cornbread should always be sweet.
I’ve heard the arguments for a savory cornbread, but why anyone would want anything other than sweet, moist (sorry for saying moist…twice) cornbread? I’ll never understand that.
The problem with cornbread is that it’s one of the more difficult things out there to make. When it’s done correctly, it’s amazing. But it seems VERY difficult to get it right. More often than not, it comes out as a dry, crumbly mess. And if you try making a high protein version… forget about it. It dries out extremely fast, and dry cornbread is terrible.
That’s why we’re going to cheat a little bit with this recipe and use boxed cornbread mix.
If you want to make your own cornbread from scratch, by all means, be my guest. I’m going to stick with the pre-made mix and doctor it up to become a high-protein cookie, because it makes life waaaay easier. Not to mention, by using a boxed mix, you can get the exact flavor you want.
Choosing a cornbread mix
Like I said, making cornbread is impossible. As an average home baker, I just do not have the skills to master a solid cornbread. That’s why I buy the pre-made stuff; somebody else has already mastered it!
And let me tell ya, Famous Dave’s does it best. I grew up down the street from a Famous Dave’s, and I used to legitimately get a dozen corn muffins to-go. I was absolutely obsessed. They’re so soft, moist, and sweet- exactly the way I want my cornbread to be.
Lucky for us, they sell their cornbread mix! That is what I chose for this recipe, and I strongly encourage you to do the same. Not only will it give you the best result (since that’s all I tested), but it’s seriously so delicious.
This mix should be available at most major retailers. I buy mine from the local Kroger, but I know that Target and Walmart also carry it. And if all else fails, there is always Amazon (you just pay more buying it online).
Choosing the right protein powder
Whenever I post a recipe, I get a message from someone who tried the recipe and had it come out terribly. When we discuss it, about 96% of the time it comes down to substituting the protein powder.
Baking with protein powder is a tough science. Not only is every type of protein different, but every brand is even different. The slightest change can easily lead to overly dry baked goods.
I’ll do my best to continue testing different powders for you to help make things easy, but I always encourage you to follow the recipe as closely as possible. However, I know that is not always possible, so here are some tips:
- The best result I got here was a vanilla whey/casein blend. I’ve been using PEScience (you can get it on their website or on Amazon with Prime shipping) because I really love the flavor. The vanilla is not overpowering and it’s not insanely sweet, so it works great for these cookies. Most importantly, the casein helps these cookies hold their structure. Casein is thicker than whey and holds moisture better, helping these cookies to hold their shape without spreading too thin.
- My second favorite version was actually an unflavored whey protein. If you want a truly authentic cornbread flavor, unflavored whey is the way to go! I know that most people don’t have this ingredient, though. I have this one off Amazon. If you do use an unflavored whey in this recipe, add an extra 10g of sugar substitute to your cookies. They should come out great!
- Third is to use a vanilla whey protein. I used Bowmar Nutrition’s Frosted Cookie protein, which tastes very similar to a vanilla. These cookies don’t come out quite as good as the whey/casein version, but they were still tasty.
I’ll leave the final decision up to you, but you can definitely see the difference depending on the type of protein you use!
Chilling the dough: absolutely necessary
These cookies require chilling the dough for 1 hour before baking. This serves 2 purposes:
- It firms up the dough to prevent them from spreading too thin.
- If you use a whey/casein blend, it will give you the crackly top and more authentic cookie texture.
Don’t worry, I tested a few batches chilled vs not chilled so you can see the difference for yourself. Up first, we have the whey/casein cookies (my favorite version) both ways…
As you can see, the cookies held their shape pretty well in both cases thanks to the casein. However, the texture was much more cookie-like once chilled! If you’re in a rush, the non-chilled version came out tasty, but not quite ideal.
Now, when it comes to using whey protein, it is ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY to chill the dough. If you decide not to, well…
In my opinion, even the “good” whey protein cookie isn’t quite the ideal shape, but the not chilled version fell completely flat. Without allowing the dough to firm up, these became inedible, dry frisbees.
In summary, if you are using a whey protein, you absolutely must chill the dough! If you’re using a whey/casein blend, you can get away with not chilling the dough, but it will be much better if you give it the hour in the fridge!
Just a little patience will make a world of difference.
Note that I did not test with any vegan protein because I do not like the flavor very much. If I had to guess, a vegan protein would work very similarly to the whey/casein version here, but I can’t say for sure.
- 105g Sweet Cornbread Mix of Choice (I love Famous Dave's Cornbread Mix)
- 46.5g (1.5 Scoops) Vanilla Whey/Casein Protein (I used PEScience)
- 42g Light Butter
- 30g Unsweetened Applesauce
- 1 dash Salt
- 1/4 tsp Baking Soda (if you are using a whey protein, leave this out)
- In a large bowl, combine your cornbread mix, protein powder, salt, and baking soda.
- Add the light butter and applesauce, and use a silicone spatula to mix together until a dough forms. Add to the refrigerator for one hour to chill the dough. This is a critical step, so don't skip it! Chilling the dough prevents the cookies from spreading too thin.
- After one hour, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Remove the dough from the fridge, and use a spoon to scoop out 7 roughly equal sized balls. The dough will be slightly sticky, but you should be able to roll them in your palms. Don't worry about pressing them down- I promise they'll spread in the oven.
- Add to oven and bake for 8-9 minutes. They might feel slightly undercooked at 8 minutes, but they continue to cook once removed, and I'd rather err on the side of slightly undercooked than overcooked and dry. I cooked mine for 9 minutes and it worked out well, but would have been even better with one less minute of bake time. Our ingredients are safe to eat raw, so don't worry about that! If you use whey protein, be sure to pull them at exactly 8 minutes to prevent them from drying out.
- Let the cookies sit for about 10 minutes to firm up inside, then dig in!
Nutrition InformationYield 7 Serving Size 1 Cookie
Amount Per Serving Calories 95Total Fat 3.5gCarbohydrates 10gFiber 0.5gSugar 5gProtein 6g
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