Have any of you ever been to Neiman Marcus Rotunda Café in San Francisco at Union Square? If you have, you probably recognize these popovers and strawberry butter.
As a teenager, my Mom and I had an annual (and very special) tradition of going to the Neiman Marcus for lunch during the Christmas holiday. She’d pull me out of school for a day, and we’d go Christmas shopping in the city together. How cool is that?!
And even cooler? The anticipation of these popovers. They’re essentially a Yorkshire Pudding, originating in England to be served as a side dish. They are baked in popover tins or muffin tins and are essentially hollow rolls. They are made from a batter similar to crepes or pancakes and are baked in a hot oven so they puff quickly and turn a nice golden brown.
When you take them out, you have these pillow-y flower shaped puffs. Sort of like the french choux pastry but more egg-y and not sweet. The outside is crisp and golden and the inside is hollow with webs of crepe-like batter. And when you open them, you’re welcomed by a cloud of warm steam.
Neiman Marcus serves these as a complimentary beginning to any meal. So instead of greeting a basket of sliced bread and butter, you’re greeted with a basket of popovers and strawberry butter. You eat them warm and quite honestly, nothing is more satisfying then spreading a smear of strawberry butter onto the popover and watching it melt into the crevices of the pastry. It’s just so memorable and delicious.
I like to make these as a breakfast alternative, even though they would be great as a side to any meal like the English do. The strawberry butter is delicious and I prefer to eat them that way, but if you’re my husband, you’d spread Nutella on them or sprinkle them with powdered sugar. They’d be great with anything you’d eat with a crepe so the options are endless both for sweet pairings and savory. You can even serve them along side a hearty soup or stew.
*Note: If you do not have a popover tin, which cost about $15 on Amazon or at a place like Sur La Table or Williams Sonoma, you can certainly make these in a muffin tin. I’ve never tried that but if you use this method, fill every other muffin tin so that they have plenty of space to puff up over the edges. And consider filling only 1/2 full instead of 3/4 full like you would on a popover tin.