Posted by: A Part of the Solution | November 19, 2013

Diverse Homemade Poptarts

Poptarts® are nasty to the uninitiated. This is true of the comfort foods of most cultures to those of another: kedgeree, raw herring and onion, tripe soup, Marmite®, peanut butter, cheese, that fermented shark-cartilage thing they eat in Iceland. Unlike most of the a-forenamed items, the poptart, qua poptart, is not fundamentally nasty. Sweet, rich pie crust with a fruit or spice filling, sometimes topped with a simple sugar glaze. And this served warm. What’s not to love?

Well. the crust on a Poptart® tastes like denatured, sweetened cardboard for one thing. And it’s got the texture of a shoebox, granular yet tough. And the filling is so artificial it intimidates the heck out of me. We all know there are things in the ‘frosting’ which don’t bear examination, informed examination, without a Ph.D. in Chemistry.

But I am an American. I have eaten and may yet eat again commercially produced, corporate branded Poptarts®. Or after two nights ago, not. Stop me before I crack the Twinkie® code!

I saw lots of recipes, very French, using all butter and an egg (and sometimes milk–not so French), but I really like the little bit of grainy to flaky which comes from using shortening cut in with the butter. Try this, and I believe you’ll find I’m not wrong.

The vegan crust is below the original, but before the suggested fillings.

Homemade Pop Tarts

For the Dough:

2 c. sifted, 8.5 oz, unbleached flour or white whole wheat

1 Tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1 stick, 4 oz, unsalted butter, cold from the fridge, cut int0 smallish chunks

3 oz shortening (which you may measure by pouring 5 oz water into a liquid measuring cup and then submerge the shortening until you get a clean 8 oz read. Wipe the shortening dry before adding to the recipe if you don’t have a scale and choose to use this method), cold or at room temperature, cut into larger chunks

1 egg beaten with

2 Tablespoons milk

Stir the flour, sugar and salt together. Using your fingers, two knives or the food processor, break down and rub the fat into the flour mixture until no piece of fat is larger than a small pea. Transfer to a medium bowl if you used the food processor.

Stir the egg and milk mixture into the fat-and-flour mixture. Knead briefly as the mixture begins to cohere to form a single mass. You may wrap and chill, or freeze the dough at this point. If so, let a frozen dough defrost overnight in the fridge. Allow a cold dough half an hour to come down to room  temperature before rolling out.

On a lightly floured pastry board, work bench or counter, roll half the dough thinly and evenly, less than 1/8th inch or 3mm. Try, of course, to make and keep a nice rectilinear shape for cutting characteristic pop tart shapes. With a ruler or tape measure, square off the dough and cut full-sized pop tarts at 3″ X 4″ (7.5 cm X 10 cm) or minis at 2 1/4″ X 3″ (5.5 cm X 7.5 cm). Use a sharp knife or a pizza wheel to cut the dough. Repeat with the second half of the dough. Match similar ‘bottoms’ to slightly larger ‘tops’. You should have 18 pieces for 9 full sized pop tarts, or about 30 pieces for 15 mini pop tarts.

Preheat the oven to 350°. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Spread a generous tablespoon of filling on full-sized pop tart bottoms. Spread 1 1/2 teaspoons of filling on the minis. Leave a clear centimeter around the edge of tart. Dip your finger in a little water, and dampen the lower tart crusts around the edge thoroughly. Place the top crust, and seal with the tines of a fork. Gently set the filled tarts on the prepared cookie sheet.

When the pan is filled, prick the top crust of the tarts all over to prevent their rising as they bake. Bake these for 20-25 minutes until nicely browned at the corners and more golden on top. Let them cool completely on a wire rack. Frost before serving if desired. Reheat briefly in a toaster oven or the oven if desired.

Fillings and frosting suggestions are given below the vegan and whole wheat crust versions.

Whole Wheat Crust

Use 8.25 oz whole wheat pastry flour, or 2 cups sifted whole wheat pastry flour less two tablespoons.

Proceed as above.

Vegan Pop Tart Crust

Substitute Earth Balance for the butter.

Substitute 1 1/2 Tablespoons flax seed meal processed in a mini-blender with 2 1/2 Tablespoons of water until thick and foamy for the egg.

Substitute coconut or almond milk for the dairy, or your preferred alternative milk product may be used.

Proceed as above.

Pop Tart Fillings and Frostings

Simple Fruit Fillings:

3/4 cup seedless jam

1 Tablespoon cornstarch or arrowroot mixed with 1 Tablespoon of water into a smooth slurry

a pinch of salt

Stir the cornstarch into the jam, heat until bubbling and allow to cook over medium heat, stirring, for 5-8 minutes. Allow the filling to cool before spreading on the tarts.

Raspberry Jam with Ginger Frosting (squeeze the juice from 1 inch of grated ginger over 1 cup sifted confectioners sugar. Thin slightly with 2-4 teaspoons of water to a thickish, spreadable consistency)

Blueberry Jam with Lemon Frosting (as above with fresh lemon juice)

Strawberry Jam with Balsamic Vinegar Frosting (use 1 teaspoon Balsamic and thin the rest of the way with water)

Apple Butter with Maple Frosting (use 2 teaspoons of maple syrup and thin with another one or two teaspoons of water)

Fruit ‘n’ Nuts Pop Tarts

For the filling:

1/2 cup toasted nuts

1/3 cup dried fruit

2 Tablespoons honey, maple syrup, golden syrup or Organic corn syrup

Process these ingredients in a food processor to a chunky paste.

Hazelnuts and Tart Dried Cherries with Honey

Pecans with Dried Apples and Maple Syrup

Almonds and Figs with golden syrup

Walnuts with Raisins and Maple Syrup

The possibilities are endless, and the texture bump from pleasant pastry is indescribable. Go find out for yourself.

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