Friday, March 6, 2015

Homemade Frosted Strawberry Pop Tarts

One of my earliest, EARLIEST posts on this tiny site of mine was all about pop tart pops. A bit more trouble than they were worth, poorly photographed, but tasty nevertheless. They were teeny tiny, filled with strawberry and peach preserves, drizzled in a sweet icing, and sprinkled with candy colored sugar. They were a "wholesome" breakfast option and a great after work snack. Fast forward two years, to when I questioned why I felt a need to make pop tarts on a stick. Surely I could be a better foodie than that. Fast forward to last weekend, when I found myself trapped inside my house on a snowy Sunday making mini pop tarts again. 

At least these were a bit bigger. And I got rid of the sticks. I replaced the candy colored sugar with candy colored jimmies (and chopped pistachios because I'm almost a grown up now). I did add more icing though. And used only strawberry filling because it's my favorite (how mature of me). I really don't know why I made these; the only explanation I have is that I was bored at home, came across some home made pop tart photos online, and got a huge urge to make a batch. Sometimes you just can't reason everything out logically. 

Pop tarts weren't something I grew up eating. I only remember having them for breakfast at sleepovers, and then a couple of times in college to help me get through multi-night studio all-nighters.  Since pop tarts weren't my breakfast staple (hello, Eggo waffles!), I think it's safe to say that I've only ever tried the strawbwerry, blueberry, and brown sugar flavors. I even liked the unfrosted ones (a lot). Regardless, I still think of the neon sprinkled, frosted pop tarts as such fun treats to indulge on, and every now and then, I'll get a huge craving for a pop tart that can only be satisfied by its processed, sugary goodness. A homemade pop tart, while good, just wouldn't be the same. 

This weekend though, I wasn't really craving pop tarts to eat...I just really wanted to make them.  This is something that happens to me pretty often.  I'll just a strong urge to bake up three cakes and stack them together with frosting, or to mix up a pie dough and weave it into a lattice.  Then, I'll have a small slice of whatever it is I made and be perfectly content until next time.  It's the process that grabs me.  That's where I found myself last weekend on a very snowy Sunday afternoon.  Stuck at home with no desire to go out, I was bored, for lack of a better word, and I came across some homemade pop tarts while trying to un-bore myself online.  As soon as I saw them, I had to make them. I just had to make my own!  I then found myself mixing up flour, butter, sugar, and milk to make a quick pastry dough, rolling it out and cutting it into little rectangles.  I added an easy filling of strawberry preserves, topped the tarts off with more pastry dough, and crimped the edges with a fork.  After a short stint in the oven, my pop tarts were just about ready.  A bit of icing and a sprinkling of rainbow colored jimmies and chopped pistachios were exactly what the little tarts needed to be complete.  

It felt great to finally get this impulse bake taken care of.  I mean, I won't lie.  As much as I prefer the homemade version of everything, a frosted strawberry pop tart from the blue box just has a special quality to it that can't be pulled out of my oven.  Regardless, these pop tarts were wonderfully delicious and so much fun to make. They took a bit of time and required a rolling pin and a ruler to ensure that all the tarts were exactly uniform, so they're time consuming, but still easy! And completely customizable. The dough comes together quickly, and the filling can be whatever you want it to be (I'm thinking Nutella for the next time I get an insatiable homemade pop tart craving).  Leave the icing on or off, change up what you want to sprinkle on top.  These homemade pop tarts are the perfect way to spend a chilly, lazy, snowy afternoon at home.  

Homemade Frosted Strawberry Pop Tarts

pastry dough from King Arthur Flour

For the Pastry Dough

2 cups all purpose flour

1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold and diced
1 large egg
2 tablespoons milk

For the Filling

3/4 cup strawberry jam

1 tablespoons cornstarch mixed with 1 tablespoon water
1 large egg beaten with 1 tbsp water, for egg wash

For the Icing

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

2 tablespoons milk

sprinkles and crushed pistachios


Whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt. Work in the butter with a pastry blender until the mixture holds together when you squeeze it, with pea-sized bits of butter remaining (you don't want to completely blend in the butter!). Mix the egg and milk together in a small bowl, and add it to the dough, mixing just until everything is cohesive. Divide the dough in half and shape each half into a smooth rectangle.  Wrap each half in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least two hours.

In the meantime, prepare the filling.  Combine the jam and cornstarch mixture in a small saucepan set over medium heat.  Bring the mixture to a boil and simmer for two minutes.  Remove the saucepan from the heat and allow the filling to cool to room temperature. 

Once the dough has chilled, remove the dough from the fridge and allow it to sit at room temperature for a few minutes, just enough to become workable.  Unwrap one half of dough and on a lightly floured surface, roll it out to an even rectangle about 1/8" thick.  Cut out 2-inch by 3-inch rectangles of dough and arrange on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.  Brush each rectangle with a bit of the egg wash, and then spoon a teaspoon of the strawberry filling into the center of each rectangle.  Roll out the second half of dough to the same thickness, and cut out 2-inch by 3-inch rectangles.  Place one of these rectangles of dough on top of the first, and use your fingers to firmly press around each pocket of filling, making sure the dough is well sealed on all sides.  Seal the edges with the tines of a fork, and use the fork to poke a few holes in the center of each pop tart, to allow the steam to escape as they bake. 

Refrigerate the tarts for 30 minutes.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, and position a rack in the upper and lower thirds of the oven. Bake the tarts for about 15 minutes, or until they’re just golden brown.  Let the tarts cool on the baking sheets slightly, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

While the tarts are cooling, prepare the icing by whisking together the powdered sugar and milk in a bowl. You can add more or less powdered sugar/milk until you achieve the consistency you’re looking for.  Spread (or drizzle!) a bit of icing over each cooled pop tart, and top with sprinkles and nuts (or any other topping you can come up with).  Let the icing set, then enjoy!

Makes 18 mini pop tarts


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