I am a complete sucker for baked treats and simple sugary carbs. Walking into a kitchen that smells of batters baking — the floral aroma of vanilla filling the air, sugar caramelizing — comforts me. So I blame my children’s sweet tooth on genetics. My whole family loves all things baked. But rather than completely deny ourselves the simple pleasure of baking, I create healthier, portion-controlled versions of our family favourites. Enter the popover!
Popovers have lots of heft and volume, but most of it comes from air. So we can scratch the sweet itch while limiting the damage of loading up on sugary treats.
My mini strawberry popovers have the subtle tang of the strawberries underscored by a drizzle of lemony glaze on top. There also is just a tiny touch of basil in the batter (which you can skip if your kids are in that “won’t eat anything green” phase). While I use all-purpose flour in this recipe (whole-wheat flour just doesn’t get the fluffy lift we love), these little guys are so tiny and airy that you can have a couple of them for just 100 calories.
And making them in a mini-muffin tin means they are done in no-time. They are perfect for last minute treat needs. Plus, they are cute!
I use chopped strawberries, which are chock-full of vitamins and minerals (a crazy-great source of vitamin C!), but feel free to improvise with your favourite fruit or berry, fresh or frozen. While these mini-popovers won’t have many calories, they won’t really count toward your 5-a-day produce quota either.
But hey, every little bit of nutrition helps. And they may make your kids fall in love with strawberries, as they did for my youngest daughter. She went from eating popovers to fresh berries this summer.
MINI STRAWBERRY POPOVERS
The batter can be made ahead of time and chilled. Allow it to come to room temperature before baking.
Start to Finish: 45 minutes
Makes 24 popovers
For the popovers:
2 teaspoons coconut oil
1 cup strawberries (or other fruit), chopped (fresh or frozen)
Squeeze of lemon juice
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup low-fat milk, warmed
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon dried basil (optional)
For the glaze:
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon coconut oil, melted
1/2 to 3/4 cup powdered sugar
Heat the oven to 400 F. Place a mini muffin pan in the oven to heat. This recipe makes 24 popovers. If your muffin pan has only 12 cups, you will need to work in batches.
In a small skillet over medium, heat the coconut oil. Add the strawberries and cook just until softened and fragrant, about 2 minutes. Squeeze in a little lemon juice, then set aside.
In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, powdered sugar and salt. Whisk to combine. In a small bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs, vanilla and basil (if using) until well-blended. Whisk the wet ingredients into the dry and mix until smooth.
Remove the hot muffin pan from the oven and mist each cup well with cooking spray. Fill each muffin cup two-thirds full with the batter, then spoon in about 1 teaspoon of the strawberry filling. Return the pan to the oven and bake for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, turn off the oven and allow the popovers to sit an additional 15 minutes in the oven (with the oven door closed).
Meanwhile, to make the glaze in a small bowl whisk together the lemon juice and coconut oil with half of the powdered sugar until smooth. Add the additional powdered sugar, whisking until smooth and glaze-like. Once the popovers are done, brush with the glaze and serve immediately.
Food Network star Melissa d’Arabian is an expert on healthy eating on a budget. She is the author of the cookbook, “Supermarket Healthy.” www.melissadarabian.net