Using a popover recipe for a base, we created these dense and savory bread-like bites quite by accident. Our Test Kitchen was experimenting with ingredient combinations and different types of pans in the hopes of discovering a luscious food platform from which to present cheese. The mini-muffin pan worked like a charm for this recipe, and yields the perfect finger food for a breakfast, brunch buffet, tea service, or hot hors d’oeuvres. By dropping chunks of cheese into the batter and allowing it to melt into the batter as it rises, you get subtle but delicious flavor throughout the muffin.
By all means, don’t feel limited by the recipe recommendation with Roquefort cheese; use our handy guide contained in the Savory Cheese Popover recipe for ideas and inspiration.
Makes 1 dozen mini-muffins
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon freshly ground white, green, and red peppercorns
Generous pinch (about 1 heaping teaspoon) finely chopped fresh herbs (If substituting dried herbs use about ¼ teaspoon. To release the aromatic qualities, rub the dried herbs between your fingers before adding to the mixture.)
1 cup milk, at room temperature
3 eggs, at room temperature
1 tablespoon butter, melted, plus additional for greasing mini-muffin tins or a mini-popover pan
1 teaspoon chunks of Roquefort cheese, cut into 1/8” dice
Preheat the oven to 450° F. Brush a nonstick mini-muffin or mini-popover pan with melted butter. Place in the oven while preheating.
[Chef’s Note: Feel free to substitute vegetable oil for the butter to prepare the pans, even though you will most likely use a non-stick pan. Conventional wisdom suggests that non-stick surfaces when exposed to high heat emit potentially harmful fumes, UNLESS there is something applied to the surface to absorb the heat — in this case, the fat.]
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, pepper, and herbs. In a large bowl, beat the eggs with a whisk until pale and foamy, about 1 minute. In a larger bowl, whisk together the milk and melted butter to combine. Combine the eggs with the milk and butter.
Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and gently whisk together until just combined. Your batter will be thick and heavy. Allow to rest at room temperature for 20 minutes, or up to 1 hour. Can be made ahead and refrigerated overnight. Allow to come to room temperature before proceeding.
Pour the batter into the prepared and heated pan to within about ¼ inch of the rim. Place the chopped cheese in the center of each filled cup.
Bake for 20 minutes at 450° F. Make sure you do not open the oven door during this time or the steam collecting inside the pan and batter will escape and you will lose the “pop” effect. Reduce the temperature to 350° F and continue to bake until the mini-popovers are brown, crusty and puffed, about 15-20 minutes more.
Remove from the oven and serve immediately, or let cool on wire racks and hold at room temperature for up to 4 hours. When ready to serve, reheat in a 350° F oven for about 10 minutes.
Recipe and photo by Donna Marie Zotter