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
- 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
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Thoroughly grease a muffin pan, leaving a little schmear of butter in the bottom of each cup.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, eggs, milk, melted butter, salt and pepper until smooth.
Add half the parmesan cheese.
Put your muffin pan in the oven for 2 minutes so that the pan is hot and the butter is melted.
Remove the pan, and as quickly as you can, pour the batter to fill each cup halfway. The faster you work, the better!
Quickly sprinkle the remaining parmesan into the top of each batter and place in the oven.
Bake for 30 minutes, do not open the oven!
Remove from pans immediately and place on a cooling rack.
Best eaten warm!
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.