Dessert is an uncommon offering in my house, though not due to any we're-too-healthy-for-that ethic.
Rather, the typical day of work and errands and chasing a child tend to leave me with little time to consider dessert.
Which is why on the rare occasion that dessert does make an appearance, it needs to be fast, simple and something that can be prepped ahead. Even better is when the dessert can do double duty and be used in another meal the next day. That's a tall order for dessert.
But I have found one that works for all criteria - popovers.
This simple pastry - it resembles a large, inflated muffin, but is hollow - comes together in almost no time and calls for just a handful of ingredients. Even better, the batter can be made the night ahead. And because popovers aren't particularly sweet, they work as well for dessert (their fillings can be sweet) as they do for breakfast.
Here's how it works. You make the batter in the blender whenever you have a spare 5 minutes (up to 24 hours ahead of time). Refrigerate it until you are ready to use it (just pop it back on the blender base for a quick whir before using).
For a dessert, heat the oven while you make dinner. As you sit down to eat, pour the batter into a popover pan, pop that in the oven, then go enjoy dinner. By the time you finish, the popovers will be done. Then just tear a small opening and spoon in a filling - I've offered a simple mascarpone cream, but use whatever moves you - and you're done.
For a second serving as breakfast, save half of the batter for the next morning, then bake up a fresh batch and serve with jam and butter.
Cardamom Popovers with Cinnamon Mascarpone and Berries
For the popovers:
• 2 cups all-purpose flour
• 2 cups milk
• 4 large eggs
• 2 tablespoons butter, melted
• 1 tablespoon sugar
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
For the filling:
• Two 8-ounce tubs mascarpone
• 2 tablespoons honey
• Juice and zest of 1 lemon
• 2 teaspoons cinnamon
• Sliced strawberries or other fresh berries, to serve
Heat the oven to 400. Coat a 6-cup popover pan with cooking spray.
In a blender, combine the flour, milk, eggs, butter, sugar, salt and cardamom. Blend until the ingredients form a very smooth batter, about 1 minute. Fill each of the prepared popover pan cups about halfway with batter. You should use only half of the batter in the blender. The remainder can be baked as a second batch or refrigerated for up to 24 hours.
Bake for 30 minutes. Remove the popovers from the pan and use a knife to cut a small hole in the top of each to let the steam escape. Cool slightly.
Meanwhile, to prepare the filling, in a medium bowl gently stir together the mascarpone, honey, lemon juice and zest, and the cinnamon. When the popovers have cooled just enough to handle, carefully tear the opening in each just enough to be able to spoon in about 1/4 cup of the filling. Serve each with sliced strawberries or other fresh berries.
Per serving (values are rounded to the nearest whole number and calculated using 1/2 cup strawberries per serving): 510 calories; 300 calories from fat (59 percent of total calories); 34 g fat (18 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 175 mg cholesterol; 40 g carbohydrate; 13 g protein; 3 g fiber; 330 mg sodium.