Well, it’s official. This is kind of getting to be a thing. And by ‘thing’ I mean our fetish for re-creating packaged and processed foods in our condo kitchen. Other examples include candy corn, Samoa Girl Scout cookies, and ice cream sandwiches. For some reason making something that looks like a store bought item makes us feel that we have hacked (on a tiny, tiny scale) into the secret processes of mass producers and beaten them because our treat is tastier than theirs.
Pop tarts are a notoriously processed and ‘bad for you’ food and yet for me conjure nostalgic memories of watching afternoon cartoons (Animaniacs or Pokemon) with a brown sugar cinnamon pop tart and a glass of milk before heading off to ballet class. So you can imagine our excitement when we had the idea of making homemade pop tarts and knowing exactly what ingredients are in them. I’m not saying they’re health food but they are real food so in my book they’re ok. Our homemade pop tarts came out with a flaky and buttery crust that perfectly enfolded our fillings of brown sugar and cinnamon (for me) and raspberry (for Nathan.) They’re freezable, toastable and adaptable to whatever you favorite pop tart filling happens to be.
Next up on our re-creation to do list? Maybe Twinkies?!?
I decided that we only needed to pair these pop tarts with one adult beverage because they’re, well, pop tarts. I went grocery shopping solo last week so I had to navigate the beer section on my own and ended up choosing this Framboise Lambic. Made with real raspberries, I thought it would complement the raspberry pop tarts and be a nice balance to the brown sugar and cinnamon filled ones. By itself this it tasted sweet, tart, and light. Unfortunately, this particular pairing was better in theory than in practice because it was just too sour for the sweet pastries and ended up being too jarring of a contrast. I guess that’s what I get for taking over Nathan’s job and trying to choose a beer!
Homemade Pop Tarts
based on this recipe
For the Pastry:
2 cups (8 ½ ounces) Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 quarter-pound sticks, 8 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into pats
1 large egg
2 tablespoons milk
1/2 cup (3 ¾ ounces) brown sugar
1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, to taste
4 teaspoons Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 large egg, to brush on pastry before filling
For the Jam Filling:
3/4 cup raspberry jam
1 tablespoon cornstarch mixed with 1 tablespoon cold water
1. Make the dough: Whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt. Work in the butter until the mixture holds together when you squeeze it, with pecan-sized lumps of butter still visible. Mix the egg and milk, and add it to the dough, mixing just until everything is cohesive.
2. Divide the dough in half; each half will weigh about 10 ounces. Shape each half into a rough 3″ x 5″ rectangle, smoothing the edges. Roll out immediately; or wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for up to 2 days.
3. Make the sugar and cinnamon filling: Whisk together the sugar, cinnamon, and flour.
4. Make the jam filling: To make the filling, mix the jam with the cornstarch/water in a small saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil, and simmer, stirring, for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat, and set aside to cool. Use to fill the pastry tarts.
5. Assemble the tarts: If the dough has been chilled, remove it from the refrigerator and allow it to soften and become workable, about 15 to 30 minutes. Place one piece on a lightly floured work surface, and roll it into a rectangle about 1/8″ thick, large enough that you can trim it to an even 9″ x 12″ (We found that using PLENTY of flour was the secret to not having the dough stick to the counter top or the rolling pin. Nathan had to slowly sprinkle flour as I rolled!).
6. Using a ruler, measure out nine 3″ x 4″ rectangles and cut using a pizza cutter or knife and place them on a lightly greased or parchment paper lined baking sheet, and set aside. Place the scraps on a separate baking sheet, and set them aside.
7. Roll the second piece of dough just as you did the first and cut out another 9 rectangles.
8. Beat the egg, and brush it over the first 9 rectangles. Place a tablespoon of filling into the center of each rectangle. Place another rectangle on top of each filling and egg wash topped rectangle and use your fingertips to press firmly around each pocket of sugar or jam, sealing the dough well on all sides. Press the tines of a fork all around the edge of the rectangle.
9. Gently place the tarts on a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet. Prick the top of each tart multiple times with a fork or toothpick; you want to make sure steam can escape, or the tarts will become billowy pillows rather than flat toaster pastries. Refrigerate the tarts (they don’t need to be covered) for 30 minutes, while you preheat your oven to 350°F.
10. Sprinkle the dough trimmings with cinnamon-sugar; these have nothing to do with your toaster pastries, but it’s a shame to discard them, and they make a wonderful snack. While the tarts are chilling, bake these trimmings for 13 minutes, till they’re golden brown. (Nathan and I were skeptical about these but they were super tasty and we couldn’t stop eating them while we were waiting for the pop tarts to come out of the oven!)
11. Remove the tarts from the fridge, and bake them for 25 minutes, until they’re a light golden brown. Remove them from the oven, and allow them to cool on the pan.