There are several instances in life that are often taken for granted. More so as the years pass us by and we get older. The moments we live and the memories we make—as we grow up—are sometimes forgotten, abandoned, and traded in. They are foreshadowed by unimportant events. Boring everyday tasks like waking up to go to school and work. Those are the things we have to do. Unfortunately those duties take the driver’s seat in our lives and the things we want to do—the fun and exhilarating moments we look forward to—take a backseat. We get older and our priorities start to shift. We put on our “big boy and girl” pants and we act responsible. We no longer have time to appreciate the small things in life. We begin to yearn for the days when life was easier, and our worries seemed so minuscule compared to the bigger everyday problems we encounter now, in our mature years. We never think about the fact that one day we too will get older. It dawns on us that times does not stand still, as we hoped it would. We look around onto our siblings. Onto our parents. Onto our friends and we forget about the fact that time has passed us by. It’s hard for us to fathom because we still see those loved ones as we did ten years ago. Young and unaffected, unfazed by life all around. Cut to the present and we are all standing here, older and wiser. “Where did the time go?,” we ask ourselves. Years are unaccounted for. Lost in the doldrum rhythm. The beat, beat, beat of our lives have taken it’s toll. But it will not get us down. No, we are fighters. Regrets, they do collect, but we must not forget to have fun along the way. There is still a glimmer of hope. You do not have to worry about losing those precious memories. Your youth is still there. Buried deep inside you like a treasure just waiting to be unearthed, discovered, and brought back to life. It is not hard to think back at the moments that made your childhood so pleasant. One simply must do. You cannot go on living as if it is too late or you are too old to have fun. For fun is all around us, no matter our age. Think about the things you did as a child. The foods you ate. The games you played. The laughs you laughed. They will strike a harmonious chord in your memory.
I look back at my childhood and I cannot help but feel a sense of appreciation. Appreciation to my mom and sisters for the things they taught me and instilled in me. Being the youngest comes with a responsibility. A responsibility to soak up as much information as one can. To learn and grow from the things we see. In many ways my childhood was much like yours. Days filled with idle fun and great food. Granted this was all before I even began to cook. Before my early teen years where I answered the incessant calls of the kitchen. So to a 8 year old me, the simplest of food was the grandest. My palate was that of a simpleton and I enjoyed normal everyday kid stuff. Now at 23 I’ve come a long way from mac ‘n’ cheese from a box, but my love for simple treats has intensified.
Nothing reminds me of my youth more than pop-tarts do. Countless mornings were filled with these—then irresistible—toaster pastries. On weekends, when laziness hit, I’d haphazardly stumble to the pantry, open those all too familiar pastries and pop them in the toaster. Life seemed to move so slowly for those thirty whole seconds it took to warm my treats to perfection. They’d finally jump up in the air, and I’d catch them before registering how hot they actually were. I chomped them down as I curled up on the couch and turned on the television. Life was good and I was in heaven. Of course there were also those inevitable week days, when I’d be forced to go to school to pick up an education. Sure I’m grateful now (stay in school kids) but at that moment I hated it. School day mornings were usually spent running around. I’d wake up late, because if there is one trait I’ve inherited from my mother it is her innate ability to be late to everything. I’d wake up thirty minutes after the alarm had rung—for the third time—and I’d be forced to rush through the house like a mad child. I’d run into the kitchen, tear open the metallic wrapping that encased my breakfast, as I headed for school losing my window of opportunity to heat them in the toaster. I’d be saddened by my room temperature pastries. But what can I say? I’m my mother’s son. So I went on suffering because I would not learn my lesson, the next day I’d wake up just as late. Life is a cycle. Today, pop-tarts still have the same power over me. Although, now I must make them myself, and do you know what I’ve come to discover? Homemade pop-tarts are the easiest thing to make. I’ll also go on record to say they taste better when you make them yourself.
So what do we need to make these awesome—better-than-the-store-bought-kind—pop-tarts?
Just eleven simple, already in your pantry, ingredients.
We’re finally back to baking (sorry for the brief savory break. I feel the need to do a cooking post every once in a while to break up the rhythm), but if you remember we always start with a mixer bowl.
This time we’re changing it up a bit.
Let’s give that stand mixer a rest and use the food processor instead.
We begin by making the pastry dough.
Dump in the flour and salt.
Put a lid on it, and give it a couple pulses to mix together.
Next up, reach into your fridge and take out the butter.
It is very important that the butter be extra, super, duper, cold.
Dice the butter.
Drop the butter into the flour.
Place the lid back on the food processor.
Oh hello there, butter.
Pulse about 10 times, or until the mixture resembles course crumbs, the size of peas.
You’ll know the mixture is ready when you can grab a handful and it comes together to form a loose ball.
The next step is to add the ice cold water.
Add 1/4 cup of ice cold water, be sure to add it in a tablespoon at a time.
The dough should form into a ball and come off the sides of the bowl.
Tip: If the dough appears to be dry add more water—as needed—a tablespoon at a time. Remember, you can always add more but you can never take any back!
Dump the dough on a sheet of plastic wrap.
Form it into a ball and divide it in half.
Then form each half into a disk and wrap separately with plastic wrap.
Place the wrapped disks of dough into the refrigerator. Allow to chill for at least 1 hour or overnight.
After the dough has chilled, remove the disks from the fridge and let them come down to room temperature for a bit. This will make rolling out the dough, easier.
Working with one disk at a time, place on a lightly floured surface.
Roll out the dough into a rectangle about an 1/8 of an inch thick.
Trim off the sides, using a pizza cutter, so that its 9×12 inches in size.
Cut the dough into thirds. Make sure each third is even Steven.
Then proceed to cut each third into thirds. (Am I confusing you yet?)
I used a ruler to make sure each piece is even.
You should end up with 9 rectangles, each 3×4 inches in size.
Place each rectangle onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
The pop-tarts don’t spread out much while baking so you don’t have to worry about leaving too much space in between each.
These nine rectangles are the bottoms of the tarts.
Place the sheet in the fridge while you repeat the process with the second half of the dough, for the tops.
Cut the second dough into 9 rectangles in the same manner you did the first.
Once you have 18 rectangles of dough cut, you are ready to make the filling. We’re making cinnamon brown sugar pop tarts so guess what? We’re going to make cinnamon brown sugar filling! Yup. I know I know. Who would have thought?
Into a large bowl, dump the brown sugar.
Throw in some flour.
And last but not least, the cinnamon. Which happens to be the best ingredient in the whole, entire dish. Cinnamon fixes everything. It makes everything better. Can you tell that I love cinnamon? It’s the best spice in all the world.
Use your paws to mix the filling together.
Or if you do not like to get your hands dirty in the kitchen,
then you shouldn’t cook, then just feel free to use a fork.
Stir together until all the ingredients are mixed evenly.
Before we get to filing these tarts, we need to make an egg wash.
What is an egg wash you ask? Well, it’s just egg and water mixed together.
So crack an egg into a small bowl and throw in a splash of water. And for all you precise foodies out there, by splash I mean a tablespoon of water.
Give it a good whisk.
See, that up there, is what you call an egg wash. Pretty simple huh?
We use egg washes for all sorts of baking needs. Most commonly we brush egg wash on top of uncooked pastries and doughs to give them a glossy golden brown finish.
Okay time to assemble these toaster pastries.
Remove the baking sheets from the fridge.
Brush each “bottom” with the egg wash.
Place about a heaping tablespoon of the cinnamon brown sugar filling onto the center of each dough rectangle.
Use your fingers, or the back of the spoon to spread out the filling. Make sure to leave about a 1/4 inch border on the sides to be able to close the pastries.
Now, brush the “tops” with egg wash and place them over the filling, egg wash faced down.
Top each pastry.
Seal the edges by using a fork to make a crimping pattern all around.
We’re almost done. They are almost ready to hit the oven.
Next step is to poke holes in each pastry.
I like making five holes in each, just because I think five is best. No reason in particular. Just five. But anyhow, the holes are necessary because it allows the steam to escape and allows the pop-tarts to get flaky.
Use a skewer or tooth pick to poke the holes.
Place the tarts in the fridge once again and chill for about 30 minutes.
The final step before baking is to brush each pastry with egg wash.
Remember, this will allow them to get golden brown while baking.
Continue with all of them.
Okay, NOW, they are ready to go into the oven.
Pop these bad boys into a preheated 350° oven and bake for about 20-25 minutes.
Rotate the pan halfway through baking to ensure even browning.
And just like that, magic….PRESTO! They are done.
Well, in all reality, it really wasn’t magic. I unfortunately had to wait the 30 minutes to cool and the 25 minutes for them to bake. You all get to enjoy the magic instantness that is the virtual world.
Let the baked pastries cool on the baking sheet for about 10 minutes.
Transfer the pop-tarts onto a cooling rack and allow them to cool completely before frosting.
Okay, while they cool down, let’s make the glaze shall we?
This, much like everything else in this recipe, is super easy.
Here’s what you need.
In a small bowl dump the powdered sugar.
Add the cinnamon.
Stream in the vanilla.
Add the milk, a little at a time.
Give the glaze a whisk until you get a slightly thick / slightly runny consistency.
If you find it to be too thick add a bit more milk, until desired consistency is reached.
Using a butter knife or an offset spatula glaze each pop-tart with the icing.
I like to frost the center making a rectangle with the glaze, to mimic the store bought kind.
Let the pop-tarts sit for a bit so that the icing can harden.
You can reheat them in a preheated 350º oven for about 10 minutes. You can also pop them in the toaster for a few seconds to quickly warm them up.
One of my sisters likes her pop-tarts cold. I always tell her she’s crazy, the whole point of a pop-tart is to “pop” them into a toaster and warm them up. They are better that way. Granted she also cuts off the crusts. What?!?! That’s the best part. But lucky for me I’m always there to eat her crusts.
You have to make these for your family, for your kids, for your friends, for your coworkers, or just for yourself!
You can feel good about eating these. Have you seen the ingredient list for store bought toaster pastries?! Well the list is a mile long—kinda sorta—and some things are not even pronounceable (for me at least). These only have a handful of ingredients and what’s more, you can name them all.
But the best part of these homemade pop-tarts is that they taste a million-trillion times better than the store bought kind. Trust me. Or make them for yourself to find out.
You can make these on a Sunday and have them ready for the week. Just reheat them before work, or before school, or before your errands. Or before you lounge. I don’t know what you do.
This recipe could work for any kind of pop-tart you like. Whichever flavor is your favorite. Just make the dough and that is the building block to anything your heart desires. Let your imagination go wild.
You can make strawberry jam filled pop-tarts.
Or you can make S’MORES pop-tarts.
Or you can just make these Cinnamon Brown Sugar kind because they happen to be my all time favorite. They are the best kind.
Either way, just make them. You wont regret it.
Cinnamon Brown Sugar Pop-Tarts
Taken and adapted from the Food Network Magazine.
Use this recipe as a base recipe and fill them with whatever flavors you’d like.
Yield: 9 toaster pastries
For the pastry:
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, cold, cut into small chunks
- 4 tablespoons ice water, plus more if needed
For the filling:
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 1 large egg, whisked with a tablespoon of water, to brush the pastries with
For the glaze:
- 3/4 cup powdered sugar, sifted
- 4 teaspoons milk, plus more as needed
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350°.
In the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour and salt; pulse a couple times to combine the ingredients. Throw in the cold, diced butter, and pulse 10 more times or until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs, about the size of peas.
With machine running, add ice water through the opening on top of the lid, in a slow, steady stream, one tablespoon at a time, just until dough holds together without being wet or sticky. It should form a ball and come away from the sides. It is very important to not over process the dough. A way to test the doug is by squeezing a small amount of dough together; if it is still dry and doesn’t come together, add a bit more water, 1 tablespoon at a time. Divide the dough in half, and place each half on a piece of plastic wrap. Shape into disks and tightly wrap in plastic. Place the disks in the refrigerator and chill for at least 1 hour or up to overnight.
To assemble the toaster pastries: Remove the chilled dough from the refrigerator and allow it to thaw for a bit. This will help you roll out the dough, and make it easier to work with. Place one piece on a lightly floured work surface, and roll it into a rectangle about 1/8 inch thick. Trim the sides of the dough so that it measures 9×12 inches in size. Repeat with the second piece of dough. Cut each piece of dough into thirds and then each third into thirds again. You should end up with 9 rectangular pieces, each measuring 3×4 inches. Using a ruler will make this process easier.
Beat the egg with a tablespoon of water and brush it over the entire surface of the first dough pieces. This will be the “bottom” of the tart; the egg will help glue the lid on. Place a heaping tablespoon of filling into the center of each rectangle, making sure to leave about 1/4 inch of space on the edge. Brush the second dough pieces with egg wash as well, and 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. Crimp the edges with a fork all around the edge of each rectangle. This will ensure the tarts do not open up during baking.
Gently place the tarts on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Prick the top of each tart five times with a skewer or tooth pick; this will allow the steam to escape, so that the tarts will become light and airy instead of flat pop-tarts. Brush the tops with extra egg wash. Refrigerate the tarts, uncovered, for about 30 minutes. This will allow the butter in the dough to chill and firm up causing a flakier crust.
Remove tarts from the fridge and bake for about 20-25 minutes or until they’re golden brown, rotating the pan halfway through baking. Let the tarts cool on the pan for about 5 minutes, and then transfer them to a cooling rack and allow them to cool completely before glazing.
To make the glaze, mix all the ingredients together in a bowl until it reaches a spreading consistency. It should be thick but not too thick. Use a butter knife or offset spatula to glaze each tart. Allow the glaze to harden before eating. Store them in an airtight container. To reheat, place in a350° oven and heat for 10 minutes. Or you can pop them in a toaster to warm them for a few seconds. Enjoy.