Friday, February 18, 2011

Pop-Tarts: Make them Yourself!

photo by Anthony Palatta

Whole Foods has just announced sign-up for my class "Out of the Box:  Making Brand-Name Desserts at Home." The idea is to learn to make your favorite treats like Oreos or banana pudding with vanilla wafers from scratch, minus weird-sounding chemical ingredients like Red #40 or TBHQ or wood pulp extract. Sign up for the class here.

To gear up for the class, I've been practicing and perfecting the recipes at home. Last weekend, I had a great time making Pop Tarts.

While doing research on Pop Tart recipes, I uncovered a few things. First, there's this notion out there that in the culinary world, gourmet Pop Tarts might just be the hot new trend. Cupcakes, oh so yesterday. Now it's about blackberry jam-filled Pop Tarts with Meyer Lemon glaze.

Second, I learned that the pastry dough for Pop Tarts is basically pie dough. (In fact, you could use a pre-made pie dough from the grocery store, cut it into rectangles, and fill with jam, and you'd basically have a Pop Tart.)

The recipe (click here) I chose as a base for my Pop Tart uses a variation on pie dough that's sturdier than the one you'll find in your mother's apple pie and easier to work with. The fillings are pretty easy too, though I'm playing with those on my own to come up with creative combos for class.

The big key to making a decent Pop Tart, to my mind, is about cutting the dough neatly, so you get lovely straight-edged rectangles. Don't worry if the filling bubbles over during the baking process. That's what icing's there for, to cover up the mistakes.

The result tastes much like a Pop Tart, only much more fresh and buttery than the cardboard taste of the pastry in the packaged version.

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