Spring is here, at least according to my calendar and not the snow falling outside. And one thing that spring means to me is more abundant fresh berries, something that I get very excited about. I also get very excited about turning pre-packaged and over-processed foods into something homemade and wholesome.
Thus, these homemade pop tarts filled with strawberry preserves.
I made a mini batch of preserves just for the occasion and it was amazing. On a whim I threw in half a vanilla bean while it was simmering and something magical happened. I almost ditched the pop tart plan altogether in favor of spooning all of the strawberry preserves straight into my mouth.
But reason prevailed, and I let the preserves cool while I rolled out the pie crust I had chilling in the fridge.
While spooning the preserves onto squares of pastry, I think it went something like this: spoon for pop tart… spoon for me… spoon for pop tart… spoon for me.
The pop tarts came out of the oven looking beautiful and smelling even better. It was hard waiting to try one until they had cooled enough to handle with my hands.
A dusting of powdered sugar finished them off, and then it was time to sample!
These were great, amazing even. But I don’t really feel like they fit the bill of a pop tart. They are more like a hand pie. This isn’t a negative thing, there was nothing wrong with them, except that that their name is a little misleading. The pie crust is buttery and flaky and perfect for pie, but when I think of a pop tart, I think of something a little sturdier, something that might hold up in a toaster. So I plan to try them again with a crust more like a sweet tart dough and see what happens. I’ll keep you posted.
I don’t mean to dissuade you from making these, however. I promise these are sublime, and you won’t regret it. They may not take you back to the pop tarts of your youth, but they’ll take you some place much better.
Adapted from Bon Appetit, April 2010
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus additional for shaping an rolling
1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes
4-5 tablespoons cold water
1 cup strawberry preserves (recipe follows)
Combine the flour, kosher salt, and sugar in a bowl. Add the cubed butter and cut into the dry ingredients with a pastry cutter, fork, or your fingers. Continue until the mixture resembles coarse sand and the butter is the size of small peas. Add the cold water a tablespoon at a time, mixing until the dough comes together into a ball. Divide into two and form each into a disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare the preserves if making from scratch (see below).
Line two sheet pans with parchment paper. Remove one disk of dough and place on a lightly floured surface. Roll out to about 11×13 inches, then trim to a 12×10-inch rectangle. Cut into 8 5×3-inch rectangles. Repeat with second disk.
Place half of the pastry squares onto the prepared sheet pans. Spoon 1 1/2 tablespoons of the preserves onto the pastry squares and cover with the remaining pastry squares. Press all edges together with your fingers to seal, then use a fork to double seal. Use a toothpick to poke holes in the tops the pastries. Freeze for 2 hours, or wrap in plastic wrap and freeze for up to 1 week.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F, placing the top rack in the top third of the oven and the bottom rack in the bottom third. Bake the pop tarts until golden, about 25-30 minutes, rotating them half way through.
Cool on a wire rack. Dust with powdered sugar and serve hot or at room temperature.
Makes approximately 1 cup
1 cup strawberries, hulled and quartered
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 vanilla bean, halved lengthwise
1 tablespoon orange zest (can use lemon also)
Put the strawberries and sugar in a medium sauce pan and set over medium hight heat. Stir and mash with a potato masher or large fork and bring to a boil. Boil for about 2-3 minutes until sugar is dissolved and combined with the mashed strawberries.
Reduce heat to medium low. Add the lemon juice. Also add the vanilla bean, first scraping the seeds from the bean before adding the pod. Continue to simmer for 10-15 minutes until thickened.
You can test consistency by spooning a small amount (1/2 teaspoon) onto a cold plate. Allow to cool for a few minutes, then flip the plate onto its side. If it runs too much, then you need to simmer for a bit longer. (Note: I never do this, I always wing it and cook it until it looks done. Most of the time this works out for me, but not always.)
Remove vanilla bean pod and stir in the orange or lemon zest. Cool to room temperature before spooning onto the prepared pastry squares. Any leftovers may be stored in the fridge for about a week.