Most people fall into a rut when it comes to holiday bread options (think Pillsbury Crescent Rolls), but I have a couple of deceptively simple recipes that will impress your guests and tickle their tastebuds. If you’ve ever been to Nieman Marcus and had their popovers with strawberry butter, now you’ll know how they can afford to give them away. Not only are popovers cost effective, they’re also a breeze to make as long as you follow a few simple rules: make sure the pan is hot before pouring in the batter, don’t fill the cups more than half full, and no opening the oven while they’re baking.
I have a special popover pan — I got mine for $12 at Home Goods, but they’re readily available online and in the neighborhood. I promise that once you have homemade popovers, you’ll want one of these pans. If you don’t have a popover pan, use a large muffin tin or make one large popover in a skillet (as I do in the second recipe).
The first recipe is for plain popovers, but you can dress them up with a variety of spices, cheeses, veggies, and meats. I am including two of my favorite versions — margherita and cinnamon sugar — as well as a simple recipe for strawberry butter that can be made using any of your favorite preserves.
The second recipe for asparagus and Fontina cheese popovers can be made using any melty cheese (Gruyère, cheddar-jack) and a veggie of your choice (Brussels sprouts, roasted squash), though they’re pretty great with Fontina and asparagus. You can serve these as a side, perhaps in place of that green bean casserole. (You’re welcome.)
Serves 4 to 6
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 2 eggs
- ¾ cup milk
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¾ cup all-purpose flour
Preheat oven to 425 degrees with popover pan in oven to warm. Melt butter in microwave and let cool. Whisk eggs and milk in mixing bowl. Add salt. Whisk in flour. Add butter. Using oven mitts, remove warm pan from oven and spray with nonstick spray. Ladle pan half full. Bake on parchment-lined baking sheet for 28 to 30 minutes, or until puffed up and golden brown. Serve hot with strawberry butter.
To make strawberry butter: Place ½ cup unsalted butter in bowl and beat until smooth. Add ½ cup preserves and beat until fluffy. Scoop into small ramekins, smooth top with dull edge of knife. Refrigerate for at least two hours before serving.
To make margherita popovers: Gently press a 1-inch piece of mozarella cheese, a few pieces of chopped tomato, and one fresh basil leaf into each popover before baking.
To make cinnamon sugar popovers: Mix ⅓ cup cinnamon sugar (or equal parts cinnamon and sugar) and ⅓ cup unsalted butter in a bowl and beat until smooth. Tuck 1 teaspoon of mixture into each popover before baking.
Asparagus-Fontina Cheese Popovers
Serves 4 to 6
- 1 cup fresh asparagus, trimmed and sliced diagonally
- 1 cup coarsely shredded Fontina cheese (divided; preferably Italian)
- Popover batter (see recipe above)
- 2 tablespoons butter
- ⅓ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place a 10-inch cast-iron or other oven-safe skillet in oven to heat. Prepare an ice bath in a large bowl and line a plate with paper towels.
Bring a pan of salted water to a boil, add asparagus, and cook until just tender (3 to 4 minutes). Drain, submerge into ice bath, and dry on paper towel-lined plate.
Mix ½ cup Fontina cheese into popover batter. Using oven mitts, carefully remove heated pan from oven. Add butter to hot pan and stir until melted. Arrange asparagus on pan bottom. Season with salt and pepper. Pour popover and cheese mixture over top.
Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, or until puffed up and golden brown.
Using oven mitts, carefully remove pan from oven. Sprinkle remaining Fontina and Parmesan cheese on top, and return to oven until cheese is bubbly and golden brown.
Cool for 10 minutes, cut into individual slices, and serve.