Homemade Pop-Tarts

Last week, Sarah invited me to bake with her because she found an awesome recipe for Homemade Pop-Tarts. Great company AND sweet treats? Who could say no to that?? Now, the recipe calls for the following ingredients for a set of cinnamon and a set of strawberry pop-tarts:

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
1 egg
2 tablespoons milk
For the cinnamon sugar filling (amount for 8 pop-tarts--adjust as needed):
½ cup light brown sugar
1½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 teaspoons all-purpose flour
For the strawberry filling (amount for 8 pop-tarts--adjust as needed):
¾ cup strawberry jam
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon water
However, the beauty of a homemade pop-tart is that the filling can be whatever your hungry little heart desires. So, we made: 2 cinnamon sugar, 2 raspberry, 2 fig (I told you I was going to use those preserves again!), and 2 nutella pop-tarts. Mmmm! The raspberry and fig are made in the exact same way as the strawberry (with preserves, cornstarch, and water), and the nutella needs no added ingredients.
We also ended up making an icing for the fruit-y pop-tarts and covered the nutella in powdered sugar, so you might also want to have the following on hand for this Icing recipe:
-2 cups powdered sugar
-1.5 tablespoons of softened butter
-1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
-1/4 teaspoon of salt
-3 to 4 tablespoons of milk

First, make your pastry dough. As per the recipe, "To make the crust, whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt. Using your fingers or a pastry blender, work in the butter until it is the size of peas and the mixture holds together when you squeeze it. Whisk together the egg and milk and add to the dough. Mix together with a fork until everything is evenly moistened. Knead briefly on a floured surface, if necessary, until the dough comes together." Sarah was able to perform this step brilliantly without the use of a pastry blender, so don't worry if you don't have one. Divide the dough in half.

And this is admittedly, where we made a crucial mistake. The recipe on the website says that you can refrigerate the dough for up to 2 days or just keep working, and that if you do decide to refrigerate, to bring the dough back up to room temperature before rolling out. If we were to make the recipe again (which I feel fairly certain we will--it was SO good!), we would without a doubt refrigerate for a good hour or so. Since you will be rolling out the dough to 1/8 inch thick, it easily falls apart at room temperature. So learn from us and refrigerate first!

While the dough is setting up in your refrigerator, prepare your fillings. For the fruity ones (the strawberry, raspberry, or fig preserves), put your preserves into a small saucepan, then mix together and the cornstarch and cold water separately and add to the preserves. Bring to a boil and then let it simmer for 2 minutes (or until it is thickened). For the cinnamon and sugar, simply mix the ingredients together in a bowl (note: it may be easier for you to microwave the brown sugar first if it has been sitting in your pantry for awhile). And for the Nutella...just try not to eat it out of the jar while you are waiting for your dough. That may be the hardest step of the entire process.

Now, once you have refrigerated your dough and made your fillings, it is time for assembly! Lay out one half of the dough on a non-stick baking mat or on a sheet of wax paper that you have sprayed with cooking spray to prevent sticking. Place another piece of wax paper on top of the dough, and use a rolling pin to roll the dough out to a 1/8 inch thickness. Try to keep the shape of the dough as rectangular as possible to make the standard pop-tart shape, but know that you can always re-roll the scrap dough into rectangles if your shape is imperfect. Ours was imperfect and took a few re-rolls.

Using a knife or pizza cutter, cut the rolled dough into 8-10 rectangles, depending on what you are able to get out of your dough (we ended up with 8 pop-tart rectangles). Transfer your dough rectangles onto a baking sheet. Then, place about 1.5-2 tablespoons of your selected fillings on top of each one. Be sure to leave a good 1/2 inch open around the edges. Lightly beat one egg, then carefully brush the egg on around the edges of your pop-tarts' fillings. This will act as a glue when the tops of the pop-tarts are placed on top of the bottoms. See below:

Repeat the dough roll-out process with the other half of the dough for the tops of the pop-tarts, then place the  second set of dough rectangles directly on top of the first. Use a fork around the edges to seal the pop-tarts, and puncture the top of the pop-tarts a few times so that steam can escape (and they will not explode while baking). Then refrigerate the pop-tarts for 30 minutes to set up.

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees, and take the pop-tarts out of the refrigerator. Pop them in the oven for about 25-30 minutes (ours took the full 30) and get your toppings (if desired) ready.

To make the icing, simply mix together the powdered sugar, salt, vanilla extract, and butter. Then, one tablespoon at a time, add in the milk until you have your desired consistency (spreadable, but not runny). You can also have extra cinnamon-sugar and powdered sugar on hand for the non-fruity pop-tarts.

The pop-tarts should be crisp and flaky when finished, like so:

Allow them to cool, and then decorate! We chose red sprinkles for the raspberry pop-tarts and gold for the fig pop-tarts. Cinnamon-sugar pop-tarts received an extra sprinkling of cinnamon-sugar, and we figured that the nutella were already fairly decadent and gave them a sprinkle of plain powdered sugar.

Let me tell you: these tasted AMAZING. This was easily my favorite recipe for the summer. The fruity ones taste like you are eating your own mini-pie, anything with nutella is delightful, and the cinnamon-sugar just brought out the buttery, flakiness of the dough. Eating these put us into such a state of bliss...I swear I was a better human being for at least that hour (not that I was eating them for an hour--the effects of the pop-tart bliss made me feel happier for at least an hour after eating them....I promise I only ate the one...stop looking at me :p). Anyway, do yourself a favor and make these--you'll never want the boxed version again. Thanks again to my fabulous co-baker Sarah, and we both hope that you make these and enjoy!

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