Monday, April 27, 2015

Homemade Pop Tarts

 If you know me, you know I like to cook for my friends. (Have I ever cooked for you?) It usually starts with a simple idea, or maybe a specific kind of food or ingredient brought up in a random conversation, and then I'll take that ball and run with it when choosing the menu. (Sports reference?? Whaaaat?) Anyway, the most recent dinner event was a Breakfast for Dinner theme. I did Eggs Benedict Casserole, Biscuits with Sausage Gravy, and Apple Cinnamon French Toast Casserole, among other things. I had originally planned to just have a light fruit salad for dessert, (with Marie's Fruit Salad Dressing, of course), but then my friend AJ asked "Could you MAKE a Pop Tart? My first thought, was "Well, I've never made it before, but how hard can it be?" So I said SURE! Why not??  I googled it, found a few different recipes, and decided that THIS was the version I'd try. I found it on a blog called
 It was a HUGE hit!!!  They were gone in no time! To be quite honest, they did take a little longer to make than I had originally anticipated, but they were clearly worth the wait. Make them ahead of time and then store them in your freezer until you're ready for them. They're kinda delicate, so I don't think you could actually toast them in a toaster, as with the name brand. So does that technically still make them POP tarts???? Absolutely! You can POP them into the oven and enjoy them any time you like! Drizzle with the icing, add a few sprinkles, and you'll never buy the name brand again. They're delish! Oh, btw, I didn't take a picture with the icing on top because I like the way they look with the little holes on the top. But go ahead and slather with the icing after they're cool.
Serious yum.

2 cups + 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
1 tsp salt
1 tsp granulated sugar
1 cup unsalted butter, cold and diced into 1/2-inch cubes
4 - 5 Tbsp ice water
3/4 cup strawberry preserves, divided (or other preserve of choice)

1 cup powdered sugar
2 Tbsp half and half, plus more as needed
1/4 tsp vanilla extract

 In a food processor pulse together flour, salt and granulated sugar. Add butter and pulse mixture until resembles coarse meal (it won't really come together in pieces much at this point, so don't over-process, just pulse until butter is no longer in large pieces). Add 4 Tbsp water and pulse several times, if it doesn't come together in clumps add remaining 1 Tbsp water. Drop mixture onto a clean surface, gather dough into a ball then divide into two portions. Shape each portion into about a 5-inch disk. Cover each with plastic wrap and chill 1 hour.
Line two large, rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Working with 1 disk at a time (keep other in fridge to chill), roll dough out onto a floured surface to about 13 by 11-inch rectangle (when edges start to crack a little when rolling, seal them and continue rolling), then trim edges to get a 12 by 10-inch rectangle (to even the edges). Then cut into eight 5 by 3-inch rectangles (cut in half through the longness then three cuts through the opposite).
Arrange 4 of the rectangles, spaced evenly apart on prepared baking sheet. Spread 1 1/2 Tbsp of jam evenly down the center of each rectangle, leaving about a 3/4-inch rim on all sides uncoated. Top each with another rectangle, then seal edges with your fingertips, then reseal with a fork (I didn't seal with the fork, I just did a double seal with my fingertips because I wanted them to look more like the real thing, but mine might have seeped out a little less had I sealed with a fork also). Poke the top center of each tart about 4 times with a toothpick. Cover and transfer to freezer to chill at least 2 hours or up to one week. Repeat process with remaining disk of dough.Position one oven rack near top third of the oven and a second oven rack near bottom third of the oven. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake frozen tarts until golden, rotating racks once halfway through baking, about 25 - 30 minutes (some of the preserves may leak out, which is fine, just peel it off once it cools). Allow to cool on baking sheet several minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

For the icing:
 In a mixing bowl whisk together all icing ingredients well then add more half and half about 1/2 tsp at a time to reach desired consistency. Spread over tops of cooled pop tarts, leaving a small rim uncoated around all sides. Sprinkle tops with sprinkles if desired and allow glaze to set at room temperature. Store in an airtight container. 

After assembling the tarts, you're supposed to chill them in the freezer before baking. I didn't. I just assembled them, then popped them right into the oven. I'm not sure how different the final result would be, but they were pretty darn good when baked straight away. Just sayin'!
I didn't use preserves, I made an apple filling. I chopped a couple apples to a fine dice, cooked them with a little butter, sugar, lemon juice, vanilla extract and a slurry made of corn starch and water to thicken it. Oh, and quite a lot of cinnamon. If you don't want to make your own filling, just use pie filling from a jar. Or add some diced fresh fruit to your purchased pie filling. It will all work!
If you don't have a food processor, just use a pastry blender to cut the butter into the flour, or use two knifes. It will take longer, but it'll all be worth the effort!

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