I love rolls as much as the next person; amongst my favorites are these and these. Armed with a good pep talk (or tantalizing photos of buttery rolls) I am usually able to convince myself that making yeasted breads are worth the effort. But on Thanksgiving I throw in the towel and give up any assumption that I will find time to make a yeasted roll recipe on top of a plethora of other dishes. If you share my sentiments, let me propose an alternative option – popovers. All you need is a muffin tin, a short list of ingredients, an oven, a bowl, a whisk, and a small pan (a pan, in this case, for browning the butter which I endorse as a worthwhile extra step). No finicky yeast, no overnight rising, no “47 easy steps to the perfect dinner rolls.” Instead, you get to eat a light and airy fancy looking “muffin” that is indeed, quite delicious, and won’t fill you up so much that you don’t have room for dessert. Plus, you can slather it in honey butter or dip it in gravy – two of my favorite things.
BROWNED BUTTER AND THYME POPOVERS WITH WHIPPED HONEY BUTTER
adapted from King Arthur Baking
makes 12 popovers
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 large (or 3 small/medium) garlic cloves, grated
2 tablespoons thyme leaves
4 eggs, room temperature*
1 and ½ cups (340g) whole milk, room temperature**
1 teaspoon sea salt
1.5 cups (180g) all-purpose flour
whipped thyme and honey butter:
3 tablespoons honey
1 heaping tablespoon thyme leaves
8 tablespoons (1 stick) salted butter, room temperature
pinch of sea salt
Prep: Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Position your oven rack in the lower 1/3 of the oven, with no oven racks above it. Lightly grease a standard 12 cup muffin tin.
1. Brown the butter*** (for the popover batter, not the whipped butter) in a small pan and remove from heat. Whisk in the grated garlic and thyme leaves. Set aside.
2. Make the batter: Whisk the eggs, milk, and salt together in a mixing bowl until well combined. Whisk in the flour until no large clumps remain. Add the browned butter mixture to batter and whisk until incorporated. Divide batter evenly between the 12 muffin cups.
3. Bake: Bake at 450 for 20 min. While your popovers are baking, go to the next step and make the whipped thyme and honey butter. After the popovers have baked for 20 min (and without opening the oven door) decrease the temperature to 350 degrees F. Bake for another 8-10 minutes, until the tops of the popovers are deep golden brown. Try to assess the color of the popovers using your oven light and looking through the oven door so you don’t let any heat out. After the popovers have fully baked, let them sit for a couple minutes in the muffin tin, then remove them and place on a serving platter. These are best served warm. To reheat the popovers, lightly toast them in the oven for a few minutes.
4. Make the whipped thyme and honey butter: In a stand mixer fitted with a whisk, cream the honey, thyme, butter, and salt together on high for 1-2 min, until the butter is light and fluffy. Spoon into a small bowl for serving with the popovers.
*if your eggs haven’t warmed to room temperature, put them in a bowl of warm water for 5-10 minutes… do not use cold eggs
**if your milk hasn’t warmed to room temperature, heat it in the microwave for roughly 30 seconds… do not use cold milk
***Here is an excellent tutorial on browning butter, if you need a refresher