Heating the pan beforehand results in a nice crispy bottom.
Preheat oven to 425°. Cook bacon in a large skillet over medium-high heat 12 to 14 minutes or until crisp; remove bacon, and drain on paper towels. Crumble bacon.
Heat a 12-cup muffin pan in oven 5 minutes.
Combine cornmeal mix and sugar in a medium bowl; make a well in center of mixture.
Stir together buttermilk and egg; add to cornmeal mixture, stirring just until dry ingredients are moistened. Stir in melted butter, cheese, and bacon. Remove pan from oven, and coat with cooking spray. Spoon batter into hot muffin pan, filling almost completely full.
Bake at 425° for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden. Remove from pan to a wire rack, and let cool 10 minutes.
Note: We tested with White Lily White Cornmeal Mix.
TRY THESE TWISTS!
Scrambled Egg Muffin Sliders: Prepare recipe as directed. Whisk together 8 large eggs, 1 Tbsp. water, and 1/2 tsp. Creole seasoning in a medium bowl. Melt 1 Tbsp. butter in a large nonstick skillet. Add egg mixture, and cook, without stirring, 2 to 3 minutes or until eggs begin to set on bottom. Gently draw cooked edges away from sides of pan to form large pieces. Cook, stirring occasionally, 4 to 5 minutes or until eggs are thickened and moist. (Do not overstir.) Cut muffins in half, and spoon eggs over bottom halves. Cover with top halves of muffins.
Ham-and-Swiss Corn Muffins: Substitute Swiss cheese for Cheddar cheese and 1 cup diced cooked ham for bacon. Reduce butter in batter to 3 Tbsp. Brown ham in remaining 1 Tbsp. melted butter in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat 5 to 6 minutes. Proceed as directed, whisking in 2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard with buttermilk and egg.
Southwestern Chile-Cheese Corn Muffins: Omit bacon. Substitute pepper Jack cheese for Cheddar cheese. Proceed as directed, stirring in 1 (5-oz.) can chopped green chiles, drained, with cheese and butter.