Popover batter is actually ridiculously easy to make. You do not have to have any baking skills whatsoever to make these and, more importantly, to have them come out good. No need to cream butter, knead and raise dough, or work with hot sugar. Just a few simple ingredients that most people always have on hand get whisked together and put into the oven. Really, it's as simple as that. The key skills here are actually patience and resisting the urge to open the oven door.
I discovered that a regular muffin pan works just fine for making popovers, as does a mini muffin pan. The latter is particularly good for making these as part of a multicourse brunch (as I did a few weeks ago for my mom), as the size is small enough for you to eat two and not feel like a total glutton, not quite as much an investment as eating a full size popover. Another thing I love about these are that you can flavor them with virtually any cheese and make any sort of butter to go with them (or you can skip the butter altogether). I've also made these with parmesan cheese and parsley and just plain salted butter and with blue cheese and rosemary and honey butter (one of my current favorite combinations) - the combinations are endless.
Another nice thing about this recipe is that it is easily halved for when you want just a few for you and another person. I actually have a pan of a half batch of these in the oven right now for breakfast for me and Matt before we head off to the Carroll Gardens greenmarket (the opening of which was last week, hooray!) and a day of errands in Brooklyn.
Manchego Cheese Popovers with Membrillo Butter
(makes 8 regular size or 20-24 minis)
For the popovers
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted, plus more for greasing pans
1 ¼ cups whole milk
2 large eggs
¾ cup + 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons minced parsley
2 ounces coarsely grated Manchego cheese
For the membrillo butter
3 tablespoons membrillo (quince paste)
3 tablespoons European butter, room temperature
Preheat the oven to 425°. Generously grease a muffin pan (or mini muffin pan) with softened butter or nonstick spray.
Heat the milk until just warm - you can do this either on the stove or in the microwave on high power for 1 minute. Add the melted butter and whisk to combine. Whisk the eggs in a small bowl, then add them to the milk mixture and whisk again to combine.
In a medium bowl, combine the flour, salt, and herbs. Add the milk mixture and gently mix just until smooth. [Tip: transfer the batter to a measuring cup with a spout - it makes filling the wells of the pan way easier.]
Fill each well almost to the top. Evenly divide the cheese among each well. Bake until they have risen high and are golden brown around the sides but light on top, 18-20 minutes (do not open the oven door). Reduce the temperature to 375° and continue baking until the popovers are golden brown all over and crisp, approximately another 15 minutes. [If you're making minis, bake them at 400 for 12-13 minutes, then lower the heat and bake for another 12 minutes - you'll need to check on the more often as they can get too brown too quickly if your oven has hot spots.]
While the popovers are baking, make the membrillo butter. In a small bowl, mix the membrillo paste well until it is smooth. Add the butter and mix well until the mebrillo is evenly distributed throughout the butter. [Tip: a small silicone spatula works best for mixing the butter and membrillo.]
When the popovers are done baking, remove them from the pan and place them on a wire rack. Serve immediately with the membrillo butter.