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Roman Inspired Cacio e Pepe Popovers

In my home cooking pursuits, I tend to get kind of fixated on very specific ingredients or recipes, cooking them repeatedly and obsessively. Sometimes a totally different recipe comes out of this process, sometimes it’s just to learn a new skill or technique. I’m constantly working on “projects” throughout the year and have a crazy hand-written list of things I want to tackle in the future.

These popovers fall into the obsession category. I decided to try Ina Garten’s popover recipe in 2018 and next thing I knew, was making batch after batch of popovers. Shockingly, it never occurred to me to buy a popover pan. And I still laugh when I read Ina’s original recipe instructions where she says you can also use twelve “Pyrex custard cups” because I most certainly don’t own twelve custard cups. We’re making these in a regular muffin pan, which most people tend to have at least one of.

So my popovers always come out a little imperfect, but I think this is ok because most people I know don’t own a popover pan either, and I want to assure you that’s just fine. If you aren’t set on serving the picture perfect popovers and are content with simply DELICIOUS popovers, carry on.

I mildly tweaked Ina’s recipe for the Cacio e Pepe angle. Black pepper and Parmesan cheese is one of my very favorite flavor combinations, and this Roman-inspired twist feels like a natural fit for a popover. These little babies are simultaneously crisp, chewy, filling but light. The addition of cheese and the cooking in a muffin pan creates a slightly crispy base and sides, while allowing for the fluffy, perfect popover top.

I can’t tell you how many batches I’ve made they are gone within minutes every single time. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME! I’m not going to account for how many I am personally responsible for having eaten, though.

Here’s Ina’s original recipe.

Cacio e Pepe Popovers

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By Stirs and Stripes Serves: 12 Popovers
Prep Time: 10 minutes Cooking Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1.5 TBS melted butter
  • extra butter for greasing pans
  • 1.5 cups flour
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 3 large eggs, room temp
  • 1 1/4 cups milk, room temp (or zap it in the microwave until warm)
  • 1/2 cup very finely grated Parmesan cheese (if the cheese is grated too coarsely, it will weigh the batter down. I use a microplane instead of the box grater.)
  • 3/4 tsp black pepper

Instructions

1

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

2

Thoroughly grease a muffin pan, leaving a little schmear of butter in the bottom of each cup.

3

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, eggs, milk, melted butter, salt and pepper until smooth.

4

Add half the parmesan cheese.

5

Put your muffin pan in the oven for 2 minutes so that the pan is hot and the butter is melted.

6

Remove the pan, and as quickly as you can, pour the batter to fill each cup halfway. The faster you work, the better!

7

Quickly sprinkle the remaining parmesan into the top of each batter and place in the oven.

8

Bake for 30 minutes, do not open the oven!

9

Remove from pans immediately and place on a cooling rack.

10

Best eaten warm!

Notes

There are a lot of variables that go into the making of a perfect popover, which overwhelm me. I don't always get it right, but it's not going to stop me from trying. Whatever you do, just don't open the oven! I've also read a trick for avoiding the deflated popover is to create a small slit in the bottom of each popover when you take it out of the oven, allowing the steam to escape through the bottom while maintaining the shape. I haven't tested this yet but will report back.

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