Saturday, December 18, 2010

Peppery Smoked Cheddar Popovers

My fellow bloggers never cease to amaze me.  In the blur of time that lapses between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day, they continue to post delicious recipes, tweet to their followers, and stay in the loop on all things food.  I, however, am just trying to get dinner on the table before I fall asleep in my plate.  This this time of year can be ridiculously busy, not to mention outright exhausting.

Queue these super-easy popovers.  Crispy, fluffy and custardy all at once, popovers make an easy hors d'oeuvres or accompaniment to a fresh green salad, and come together in no time flat.  Popovers are a hollow roll made from a thin batter - when cooked in a screaming hot oven, the batter rises spectacularly  from the top of the tin (they "pop over," hence the name).

Popovers can be either sweet or savory, depending on the application.  A basic popover was one of the first things I learned to make on my own after school: I plated one or two of them hot out of the oven, split them open, drizzled them with honey, and devoured them in minutes.  These smoked cheddar popovers are a great savory application of the classic method.

These popovers lack some of the rise of traditional popovers due to the cheese quotient, which weighs down the mixture; but still have an etherial lightness with a sharp fresh pepper bite.  The batter can be made up to a day in advance.  I made small-bite popovers in a mini-muffin pan, but larger popovers can be made in a popover tin or a regular muffin tin.   A glass of champagne on New Year's Eve would be a bright counterpoint to the popovers' richness.

With just a week until Christmas, I have to admit that I still have several gifts to purchase or make, holiday menus to plan, and friends & family to see.  I'm striving to be like my co-bloggers and continue to post, without delay, the quintessential recipes for this holiday season.  But if I can't, I know that my blogger friends will pick up the slack.

I hope you all have happy holidays and a wonderful new year!

Peppery Smoked Cheddar Popovers
Makes 12 full-sized popovers or 24 mini popovers

1 cup milk
2 eggs
1 cup King Arthur AP flour
1 T. melted butter
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup finely shredded smoked cheddar
Cooking spray or olive oil mist

Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees for mini-popovers; or 400 degrees for regular popovers.

Whisk together milk and eggs in a medium bowl until just combined.  Whisk in flour, salt, pepper, and butter until just combined (do not overwork).  Fold in cheddar.  If not baking immediately, cover the batter with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to a day.

Once oven has pre-heated, place the empty muffin/popover tin on the upper rack and let warm for 3-5 minutes.  Carefully remove the tin from the oven and spritz lightly with olive oil or cooking spray.  Spoon the batter mixture into each cup of the tin, filling 2/3 full.  Transfer to the oven and back for 18-22 minutes for mini-popovers, or 35-40 minutes for regular popovers; until they have risen and are golden brown.  Serve hot.

Note:  This recipe can be doubled.  If you are making hors d'oeuvres for a party, set out several on a platter or in a basket, and keep the rest in your oven on the lowest possible temperature. 

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