Tuesday, February 8, 2011
Valentine's Day Countdown: Homemade Pop-Tarts
While I'm not too big on Valentine's Day, my kids love it. To be honest, they love any semblance of a holiday, because around here that usually means crafts, cookies, decorations, etc to go along with said holiday. And, of course, Valentine's Day is no different. So, I've given in, jumped on the bandwagon and, well, here I am...
I thought I'd share some of the Valentine's fun we've been working on, and will post a Valentine's related craft, recipe every day until the big day. :o) So, here's my first one...
I first saw a recipe for homemade Pop Tarts a few months ago. Homemade Pop Tarts?? Umm...yes, please! Like everyone else on the planet, I love Pop Tarts (c'mon, admit it...you know you do too)! In fact, during my days in the college dorms, I lived on Pop Tarts, Ramen noodles and Dr Pepper and when Colin and I were poor college students living on our own, Pop Tarts were a staple in our apartment. There was a short period of time we had them in the house for Colin (who still loves them and gets away with eating them since he cycles 10 miles to and from work each day), but once Z started asking for them, I had to ban them from the house.
Once I saw I could make my own, much healthier versions, I jumped on the chance!
And, I thought what a perfect Valentine's breakfast they would make, cut out into heart shapes.
Source: Macaroni and Cheesecake, King Arthur Flour
Yield: 9 pop-tarts or about 6 heart-shaped pop-tarts (I used a medium sized cookie cutter)
For the pastry crust:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks, or 8 ounces) unsalted butter, cold and cubed
2 tablespoons milk
*I cheated and bought the Pillsbury pie dough from he grocery store. It seems like this might yield a smaller batch of pop-tarts than the homemade pastry dough, so just keep that in mind.
For the Strawberry jam filling:
¾ cup strawberry jam
*Here's where you can make it much healthier! Use your favorite sugar-free jam or your own homemade (sugar-free) jam like I did!
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon water
For the Cinnamon Filling
1/2 cup 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
½ Cup powdered sugar
1-2 tsp milk (less if using cream)
*You can add 1tsp unsweetened cocoa powder to glaze the chocolate pop-tarts or 1tsp cinnamon for cinnamon/sugar pop-tarts.
1 egg, lightly beaten (to brush on pastry)
powdered sugar or flour for rolling out dough
In a small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch & water. In a small saucepan, add strawberry jam & the cornstarch mixture. Bring to a boil & then simmer for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat & allow to cool.
Whisk together the sugar, cinnamon, and flour.
Heat in small saucepan and whisk until smooth (or heat for about 1 min in microwave).
For the Crust:
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, salt & sugar. Using a pastry cutter, cut the butter into the dough until the mixture resembles coarse meal & the butter is the size of peas. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg & milk. Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture & mix together with a fork until dough is evenly moistened. Knead briefly until dough comes together.
Cut the dough in half. (To make the dough ahead, you can wrap each section of dough & refrigerate for up to 2 days, allowing dough to come to room temp. before rolling). Sprinkle powdered sugar on your rolling surface & then roll out one piece of dough to 1/8 inch thick, into roughly a 9 1/2 x 12 1/2 rectangle (my dough rolled out to a little less than this and it yielded the same amount of tarts). Trim the edges to get straight lines all around. Cut the dough into either 9 evenly sized rectangles or into shapes with cookie cutters. Using a straight spatula, transfer dough rectangles to a baking sheet lined with parchment. Brush the beaten egg lightly onto each of the pop-tarts.
Spoon a small amount of strawberry or brown sugar/cinnamon filling onto each (1 tsp to 1 tbsp. depending on your size). If adding chocolate chips, use about 1 tsp added to middle of pastry.
*Be sure to leave a 1/2 inch of space around the edges and do NOT overfill these as they will be messy!
Roll out the remaining piece of dough as you did the first, cutting into the same amount of pieces. Top each prepared piece of dough with another. If you are cutting out shapes, you will have leftover dough. Just keep rolling these out, so you can cut out more shapes (I ended up with a couple smaller hearts, just so that the dough wasn't wasted).
Press the seams of the dough with your fingers to seal. Press a fork around the edges of each rectangle, then prick the tops so that air can escape. Very lightly brush the tops with beaten egg.
Place the pan of tarts in the refrigerator uncovered for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until lightly golden brown. Cool slightly.
Brush or drizzle glaze on and add sprinkles, colored sugar, etc.
These are best served warm, so if you make them ahead of time reheat them in a 200 degree oven for approximately 5 minutes until warm. Store in an airtight container for up to one week.
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