Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Homemade Pop Tarts

It seems like I am always on the lookout for homemade versions of grab-and-go type foods. My husband and I are both often rushing out the door, and I know that if we don't have easy food to grab on the way, we wind up spending way to much on food while we're out and about. We always try (with vary success..) .to pack lunches on weekdays instead of buying them -  so I usually spend some time on the weekends baking and making snacks to tuck into our lunches for the week.

This weekend I decided to try a recipe from Smitten Kitchen  - I love Deb's writing and her recipes are always amazing! Homemade pop tarts sounded almost too good to be true; I love the idea of the commercial ones, but to me they always taste so flat and stale. These homemade pop tarts are what you wish the commercial pop tarts would be - a crispy, flaky crust, stuffed with delicious, fresh filling. I'll definitely make them again - and next time I'm thinking of using Nutella as a filling. Less healthy, but doesn't it sound delicious?

I used the recipe from Smitten Kitchen, although I altered it slightly. I believe the recipe is originally from King Arthur Flour.

Homemade Pop Tarts

For the Pastry Dough:
*2 cups all purpose flour (although you could easily substitute whole wheat)
*1 TB sugar
*1 tsp salt
*1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks)
*1 egg
*2 TB milk
*1 TB  heavy cream (substitute milk for this if you don't have cream on hand)

For the Fillings:
Jam Filling
*3/4 cups jam (I used blackberry)
*1 TB cornstarch
*1 TB cold water

Lemon Cream Cheese Filling:
*4 TB lemon curd
*4 TB cream cheese

To make the dough, whisk together flour, sugar, and salt. Cut the butter into small pieces, then use your fingers, a pastry cutter, or food processor to mix in the butter until it is in pea sized lumps. If using your fingers, simply pinch the pieces of butter between your thumb and fingers. Whisk the egg, milk, and cream together in a separate bowl, then mix into the flour and butter mixture. Knead briefly on a well floured counter until dough holds together. Split the dough into two pieces, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate while you make the fillings.

To make the jam filling, whisk together the cornstarch and cold water and pour into a small saucepan. Stir in the jam, and bring the mixture to a boil. Simmer for about 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and let cool.

Preheat your oven to 350, and remove the dough from the refrigerator. Roll out on a well floured surface until it is about 1/8" thick. Cut out rectangles of dough (I used a 3"x5" index card for guidance so that I would get rectangles that were exactly the same size - use anything that is the size you'd like your finished pop tarts to be).

Assemble the tarts by placing about a tablespoon of filling in the center of one rectangle, leaving at least quarter inch perimeter of dough around the edges. For the cream cheese and lemon curd pop tarts, I placed half a tablespoon of cream cheese first, then added half a tablespoon of lemon curd on top. Dip a pastry brush in water and brush generously around the perimeter of the rectangle. Place a second rectangle of dough on top and press firmly with your fingers to seal the dough on all sides. Press with a fork around all outside edges.

Place the tarts on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Slit the tops of each tart (or use a fork to poke holes in the top) - otherwise they will poof up in the oven. Bake for about 20 - 25 minutes, until golden brown. Make sure to let them cool before tasting - the filling packs a lot of heat!

As Deb (on Smitten Kitchen) mentioned, I tried the tip from King Arthur and dipped my dough trimmings in cinnamon sugar, then baked them. They were delicious - almost like little bites of fried dough!

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