Almost like magic, simple mixtures of eggs and flour pouf into expansive, golden mounds ― popovers and cream puffs. What's the secret of their silhouette?
Think of these classics as edible hot-air balloons. Both contain eggs, flour, and butter. When the batter is heated quickly, the liquid in it vaporizes; the steam stretches the structure before the proteins in the eggs and flour solidify and form a crisp shell. The oven temperature is critical: It needs to be hot enough to cause the puffs to expand quickly, but not so hot that they set before they have a chance to balloon. Make sure you preheat the oven to just the right temperature, and check its accuracy with an oven thermometer.
That's easy payment for the pleasure of spooning fruity jam into a steaming popover for breakfast or breaking into a cream-filled puff drizzled with chocolate.
Beat the batter just until smooth; overbeating it can break up the structure.
Pour batter into every other cup if your muffin tins have less than 1 inch between cups; popovers need room for their tops to expand.
Fill cups 3/4 to almost full, so batter can pop up over the edges.
Puncture popovers once they have puffed and the shell has set (to release the steam); return them to oven to firm up.
Popovers are perfect vehicles for both savory and sweet fillings: Split large ones open and spoon in softly scrambled eggs; top with cheese and salsa or diced tomatoes. Or for dessert, slit popover tops open and fill with a scoop of vanilla or chocolate ice cream; top with peeled orange segments and caramel sauce.