Pimp That Snack! (or Pop Tarts: Go Big or Go Home)

In an effort to complete Thirty Things #20, I have become rather adventurous in the kitchen.

Bean has weathered it magnanimously – but then, when I get antsy of an evening and bustle about for a while, emerging shortly thereafter con pie who wouldn’t?

I must say my first attempt at pie reaffirmed the proverbial ease, but admittedly I was incredibly lazy about it:

  • make pastry*
  • invent a filling (apples? cinnamon? brown sugar? pecans? sure, toss it in!)
  • no pie pan? just fold the edges over the filling wad, covering the top to form a pillow of appley goodness. stick the pleats down with milk if you have to
  • bake
  • eat

*if you over work the pastry, it’ll be tough and totally strong enough for one-handed pie maneuvers. sans dishes. sans sitting. total bonus.

It may have been more of a galette, but I’m not complaining. It was excellent with ice cream.

But wait, you say, you said pop tarts. I did not sign on for pie. I demand a refund for the inappropriate confectionary content.

Well, I say, hold your horses. We are getting to that part.

You see, I used Jamie Oliver’s sweet pastry recipe (from that book I was talking about)

Which (quite naturally) makes enough pastry for a real pie. With both top and bottom pieces.

Not quite the same thing as handeld made-up pseudo-pie/wad o’ galette. I was left with a quite a pastry lumpkin languishing in my fridge.

(editor’s note: much as I love talking about food, I feel my liberal use of unappetising words such as wad and lumpkin may bar me from any serious culinary journalistic endeavours. I hope I haven’t put you off, it was freaking delicious.)

Now I don’t know about your fridge, but mine has a habit of anthropomorphisizing everything I put in it.

This ball of dough soon called out to me in dulcet tones. In a voice much like I imagine that of Lillian Gish, it pleaded to be put to some good purpose.

It craved usefulness – which is admittedly odd for a dessert, even in my house, but who was I to argue?

So anyway after I convinced myself (after several tries over several days) that raw pastry will never be as tasty as raw cookie dough, I decided to invent something wonderful.

Behold, the home-made pop tart:

The large one was approximately the size of my forearm… for the point two seconds it remained in tact.

As @bookshop_becky rightly pointed out, they would have been worthy of Pimp That Snack, formerly Pimp My Snack.

[I heard  a rumour Xhibit (remember him?) and MTV pressed charges on name infringement. I like to imagine what hot-shot Manhattan lawyer landed that one. Ooh college kids making giant cookies in our name? How dare they!]

Pimped- Up Pop Tarts

Ingredients

For the pastry:
• 250g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
• 50g icing sugar

• a tiny pinch of sea salt
• 125g unsalted butter, chilled and cut into cubes
• 1 large egg
• a splash of milk

For the filling:

• 2/3 c granulated sugar
• 2/3 c strawberries, sliced
• 1/4 tsp vanilla
• dusting of flour, if needed

For the decoration:

• 1/2 c powdered sugar
• dash of milk
• hundreds & thousands (aka sprinkles. Britishisms never cease to amaze me.)

Directions

Combine the strawberries and granulated sugar in a small saucepan. This will magically become syrupy tasty sweet, extracting the juice from the berries in a process not dissimilar to decomposition.

Make the pastry. As Jamie says [with my additions]:

If making by hand, sieve the flour, icing sugar and salt from a height into a large mixing bowl. [yeah right, just mix it in a bowl.]

Use your fingertips to gently work the cubes of butter into the flour and sugar until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. [A mixture of lump sizes from pea to peppercorn is extra nice]

Add the eggs and milk to the mixture and gently work it together until you have a ball of pastry dough. Don’t work it too much at this stage – you want to keep it crumbly and short.

Sprinkle a little flour over the pastry, then wrap it in cling film and pop it into the fridge to rest for 1 hour. [Make sure it’s nice and cold so it’s easy to work with.

While you wait, it may be a good time to make filling.

Once your berry mixture has broken down to seriously lumpy syrup (some in tact berries are okay), add a splash of vanilla and put it on medium heat. You’re thickening this to an almost-jam. I added a bit of flour for thickener, but you don’t have to.

Let it bubble a bit, but stir constantly so it doesn’t burn.

not a sexy complexion, but tasty just the same

When it’s thick but spreadable, remove from heat and let it cool down a bit while you pastrify.

Preheat the oven to 200C.

Roll the pastry out on a very floured surface as thinly as possible. Like tiny thin. Almost see-the-counter-through-it thin.

Try to keep it roughly square so the cutting stages are easier.

Cut the pastry into rectangles [or whatever shape you want your poptarts to be].

If you are eyeballing you rectangles and have no eye hand coordination like me, at least make sure you have pairs of roughly the same size and shape to match up together.

Put the bottom pieces of pastry on the cookie sheet.

[Now it is quite important to transfer your unfilled pastry sheets to the lightly greased cookie sheet. Doing so once the paper thin parcels are full of jam would be disastrous.]

Put a tablespoon or two of jam spread around the centres, leaving a centimeter of edge clean.

Paint the clean edges with milk (or egg) and place the top halves over your poptarts. Press the edges together to cement them. They will probably look like unappetising ravioli.

Fold and roll the edges up  together until  there is a puffed edge snuggly sitting next to the filling pillow. Make sure there aren’t any gaps or holes or all your filling will gush out.

Brush the tops with milk or egg and cut small slits or holes in the jam pillow to help it vent.

Cut only the top bit of pastry, leaving the bottom in tact.

in the oven with you!

Bake your poptarts for around 15 minutes. Their cooking time will depend on their size, so keep an eye on them. The pastry should puff up a bit and be golden brown at the edges.

While they bake, blend the powdered sugar and milk (add flavours and food colouring if it floats your boat, I was just being tradition with plain white icing and sprinkles)

Once baked remote the tarts from the oven.

Frost lightly, coat with sprinkles and eat.

Though warning: if you fill yours with a generous dollop of jam be careful. They are steamy little suckers and do not play well with the roofs of mouths.

Having tried the store-bought kind since, I can honestly say we improved every aspect of this handheld sweet treat.

No chemical after taste. No burnt edges with unmelted middle. No sadly under-iced ones.

Perfectly awesome in every way.

Happy snacking.

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