I tell myself that now we’ve been hitting some blazing hot temperatures in Chicago that I will stop using my oven. I’ll cast pizza and cookies aside for no-bake desserts and crisp salads. But really, who am I kidding. I still bake, I just crank up the AC to make it tolerable. Not good for my hips or my energy bill, but I love it.
This week I had a good reason to play with my oven though. My office was holding a bake sale to benefit Off the Street Club, the oldest boys and girls club in Chicago. I love participating in bake sales, especially when they are for a good cause, so I knew it was a perfect excuse to turn on my oven. Even better, it allowed me to finally make a recipe that’s been on my to do list for awhile – Homemade Pop Tarts. I swooned when I saw them on Smitten Kitchen in April, but then got distracted by making other things (Goat Cheese Brownies perhaps?). And then Sues of We are Not Martha made them and I knew it was only time.
This homemade version starts with a buttery crust. Lightly sweet and golden, it’s much flakier than the original (pleasantly so) with a sturdiness that allows it to accomidate all manner of fillings. True purists will complain that it’s not identical to the store-bought Pop Tarts- and it isn’t – but I found it so sumptious I didn’t care. Sues and Deb filled theirs with cinnamon and sugar but I opted for homemade Chocolate Banana Spread. I made the linked recipe almost verbatim, although I omitted banana flavor and also added 2 teaspoons of arrowroot mixed with milk to thicken it. The spread itself is pretty luscious. I haven’t included it on the blog as I want to convert it from weight measurements to volume measurements, but am sure it will reappear here again sometime soon. But the point is – I almost forgot I had one due to my ability to be distracted by bananas and chocolate – these are infinitely customizable. You can recreate one of your favorites or invent something new, Like The Duo Dishes’ strawberry- wine jelly filling. The bottom line is that these are sinful and so worth the buzz they’ve been getting in the blogosphere. I’m just wishing I had access to chocolate goat cheese, because surely that as a filling would take these over the top.
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen who used a King Arthur Flour recipe
Yields 16 mini Pop Tarts
-2 cups (8 1/2 ounces) all-purpose flour
-1 tablespoon sugar
-1 teaspoon salt
-1 cup (2 sticks or 8 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into chunks
-2 large eggs, divided
-2 tablespoons (1 ounce) heavy whipping cream
-Desired filling (about 1 heaping teaspoon per mini Pop Tart)
Make the dough by whisking together the flour, sugar, and salt. Work in the butter until the mixture holds together when you squeeze it, with pea-sized lumps of butter still visible. Mix the egg and cream together, and add it to the dough, mixing just until everything is cohesive.
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.
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″. Laying a 9″ x 13″ pan atop the dough will give you an idea if you’ve rolled it large enough. Trim off the edges.
Roll the second piece of dough just as you did the first. Cut each piece of dough into 16 2 1/4″x3″ rectangles. I found that a ruler and a pizza cutter were the easiest way to do this.
Beat the egg, and brush it over the entire surface of the dough. Place a heaping teaspoon of filling into the center of each marked rectangle. Place the second sheet of dough atop the first, using your fingertips to press firmly around each pocket of jam, sealing the dough well on all sides. Press the tines of a fork all around the edge of the rectangle. Cut the dough evenly in between the filling mounds to make sixteen tarts. Press the cut edges with your fingers to seal, then press with a fork, to seal again.
Gently place the tarts on a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet. Prick the top of each tart multiple times with a fork; you want to make sure steam can escape, or the tarts will become billowy pillows rather than flat toaster pastries. Refrigerate the tarts for 30 minutes, while you preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. (Alternatively you can refrigerate them overnight, as I did, if you want to bake them up first thing in the morning.)
Remove the tarts form the fridge, and bake them for 25 to 35 minutes, until they’re a light golden brown. Remove them from the oven, and allow them to cool on the pan.