Along with numerous other treats, pop tarts and toaster strudels were also on my childhood list of forbidden food. Instead I made due with toast, a scrambled egg, and a mashed up banana, which was a poor substitute for the gorgeous, colourful flaky pastries that were popping out of the kid's toasters on television. They looked so happy in their anticipation of waiting for their pop tart to pop. I, on the other hand, sulked as my mom or dad whisked the runny and, what I thought was disgusting at the time, egg, until it was chunky instead of runny. Whenever I asked why I couldn't have pop tarts or any other sugary bit of heaven, I always got the same classic parental response: "You should be grateful for what you have." or, even better, "You'll thank us when you're older and your teeth aren't falling out".
I still have the occasional nightmare about my teeth actually falling out, but since I've researched this (neurotic, anyone?) and discovered that it's a common phenomenon, I can't blame my parents. If it were not for growing up in a sweet-deprived household, I may not have fallen in love with baking. It would have been their anniversary earlier this month, and even though my dad is gone, I can't thank him, or my mom enough for such a healthy childhood, and for making me the baker of decidedly Unhealthy things today. :D
As you can see, I've made up for lost pastries. These pop tarts taste and look a lot more like toaster strudels. But I think the term 'pop tart' is more recognizable, so I'll stick with it. These were spectacular! The pastry is actually a pâte brisée, so you can already imagine how flaky and buttery it's going to be. You may use any filling you want. I went with raspberry jam, but feel free to experiment. If they were filled with dark chocolate, I'm quite sure that they would taste a bit similar to petit pain au chocolat...so if anyone decides to do this, please let me know! I'm just waiting for an excuse to make them again.
Raspberry Pop Tarts (adapted from Fine Cooking)
Pâte brisée ingredients
1 3/4 cups of all-purpose flour
1 1/2 Tablespoons of sugar
1 teaspoon of salt
1 cup (that's 2 sticks) of cold unsalted butter, cut into bits [Note: I cut the butter up the night before and let it freeze overnight]
2 egg yolks
3 Tablespoons of cold milk
1 egg, lightly beaten
about 1 cup of your favourite jam (I used raspberry)
1 cup of confectioners sugar
1/4 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
2-3 Tablespoons of buttermilk [Note: cream or milk can also be used]
Prepare the pâte brisée: Place the flour, sugar, and salt into a food processor. Pulse to combine. Scatter the pieces of butter on top of the flour mixture. Using quick bursts, pulse until the mixture becomes crumbly (you should see pieces the size of oatmeal and peas).
In a separate small bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and milk.
Using Tablespoon-sized increments, add the egg mixture to the butter mixture. Pulsing briefly between each addition. Once everything has been added, pulse for about 8 seconds, until the dough barely comes together.
Dump the dough onto a lightly floured surface and gently work it together until all the crumbly pieces which escaped the blade, are incorporated into the dough. Knead a few more times until it becomes cohesive. [Note: you should still be able to see bits and streaks of butter in the dough.]
Flatten the dough into a disk, wrap up tightly, and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or overnight.
Preheat the oven to 350F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper
Remove the dough from the refrigerator and divide it in half.
On a lightly floured surface, roll each half into a 14x11-inch rectangle. [Note: I couldn't get mine near that length, so I just rolled out a rectangle that was about 10x7] Repeat with the other half of dough.
Using a sharp knife, cut each rectangle into smaller 3 1/2 x 5 1/2-inch rectangles.[Note: Since my original rectangles were smaller, I cut them into 2 1/2 x 4 1/2 pieces]
Brush half the rectangles with the egg. Spoon about 2 Tablespoons of jam into the center of the egg-brushed rectangles [Note: Use less jam if your rectangles are smaller].
Lay the leftover pieces of dough on top of the jam, try to keep the edges aligned. Using your fingertips, press the pieces together. The egg will act as a glue, helping to make them stick.
Dip a fork in some flour and make a decorative edge around each pastry. Brush some egg on the finished surface of each one.
Leaving about 2-inches of space between each one, place the pastries on the cookie sheet and bake for 40-45 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool completely before adding the glaze.
Prepare the glaze: In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the sugar, vanilla, and just enough of the buttermilk to make the glaze smooth and pourable.
Using a whisk or the tines of a fork, drizzle the glaze over the cool pastries.
Depending on how large you make them, this yields about 6-8 pop tarts. Do Not place these in a toaster! :D