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Homemade Pop Tarts

For this week’s baked good, I decided to make homemade pop tarts. I got the idea from my boss, who told me that he eats them every morning for breakfast. So, I thought, why not make him one from scratch? I’d definitely get some props for these and maybe even a bonus? No? Well, I tried.

 I’d seen a recipe for homemade pop tarts while browsing through some sites so I knew it was possible.
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I know you can only see the strawberry ones but I actually made 3 different kinds: strawberry, brown sugar cinnamon and s’mores. You will soon come to find that I have a serious s’mores obsession.
They really weren’t that difficult to make; it’s basically a dense pie crust filled with a filing of your choice. I would recommend the classic strawberry; they were a huge hit!
Everyone kept asking about the icing. As you can see, I did not make any. All the recipes I found said that they couldn’t create an icing that was similar to the original so it wasn’t even worth it. I didn’t want to ruin these (especially since they were made specifically for my boss) so I left the icing to the pros at Kellogg’s.
If you would like to skip a few steps, you can use store-bought pie crust, though this crust below is pretty easy to make if you’re feeling ambitious.

Recipe (courtesy of Smitten Kitchen):

 Pastry
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 pats
1 large egg
2 tablespoons (1 ounce) milk
1 additional large egg (to brush on pastry)
 I would suggest making the fillings first so you aren’t leave the pastry dough out on the table while you scramble around getting the fillings ready. (I’ve gotten better about thinking things through before I just start baking away; I’m pretty proud of myself, thankyouverymuch.)
Cinnamon Filling (enough for 16 mini tarts or 9 regular ones)
1/2 cup (3 3/4 ounces) brown sugar
1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, to taste
4 teaspoons all-purpose flour
1 large egg, to brush on pastry before filling

To make cinnamon filling: Whisk together the sugar, cinnamon, and flour.

Jam Filling
3/4 cup (8 ounces) jam
1 tablespoon cornstarch mixed with 1 tablespoon cold water

To make jam filling: Mix the jam with the cornstarch/water in a small saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil, and simmer, stirring, for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat, and set aside to cool. Use to fill the pastry tarts.

S‘mores Filling
Mini chocolate chips
Mini marshmallows

Make the dough: Whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt. Work in the butter with your fingers, pastry blender or food processor until pea-sized lumps of butter are still visible, and the mixture holds together when you squeeze it. If you’ve used a food processor, transfer the mixture to a large bowl. Whisk the first egg and milk together and stir them into the dough, mixing just until everything is cohesive, kneading briefly on a well-floured counter if necessary.

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I know you’re probably asking yourself: why did she cut the butter into the flour when she has a perfectly good food processor? Two reasons: (1) I feel more comfortable cutting it by hand since that’s always what I’ve done. One day, I’ll try it out in the food processor. But until then, I’ll continue with my old-school ways. (2) My roommate was sleeping and I didn’t want to be too loud since the kitchen is right next to her room. I know I’m considerate; you don’t have to tell me.

Divide the dough in half (approximately 8 1/4 ounces each), shape each half into a smooth rectangle, about 3×5 inches. You can roll this out immediately or wrap each half in plastic and refrigerate for up to 2 days. I would recommend refrigerating it, however. Pastry dough needs to stay cool in order to produces a flaky, buttery crust. I wouldn’t risk it, so making the dough a day before is probably the best idea.

Assemble the tarts: 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″. [You can use a 9″ x 13″ pan, laid on top, as guidance.] Repeat with the second piece of dough. Set trimmings aside. Cut each piece of dough into thirds – you’ll form nine 3″ x 4″ rectangles (or fourths to make minis). I decided to make the minis because the regulars seemed too big. Also, we have like 20 people on the team so if I just brought 9 of anything, people would riot.

Beat the additional egg and brush it over the entire surface of the first dough. This will be the “inside” of the tart; the egg is to help glue the lid on. Place half a tablespoon (full if making the regular size) of filling into the center of each rectangle, keeping a bare 1/2-inch perimeter around it. Place a second rectangle of dough atop the first, using your fingertips to press firmly around the pocket of filling, sealing the dough well on all sides. Press the tines of a fork all around the edge of the rectangle. Repeat with remaining tarts.
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. Brush the tops with the remaining egg wash and sprinkle with sugar. This will give the pop tarts a nice shiny color. Refrigerate the tarts (they don’t need to be covered) for 30 minutes, while you preheat your oven to 350°F.

Bake the tarts: Remove the tarts form the fridge, and bake them for 20 to 25 minutes, until they’re a light golden brown. Cool in pan on rack.

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