So Hot Right Now

Another winner from my cousin, who took the time to make these babies a few different ways before coming up with the perfect recipe and sending it my way.  And now I send it on to you, doubtful you needed any prompting to jump on the breakfast dessert bandwagon.  

Hey, Sar!

We've been in our new house for two months now and let me tell you... I am in heaven.  We have functional family living space, an office for Chris (office, pfffffft - try dark room in the back of the house where he can watch nerdy sci-fi movies and play video games), and an amazing safe and quiet neighborhood. After living in a 595 square foot condo with a shared closet, then an old home built in 1918 on a busy street, I am thrilled. I love coming home everyday and have become a total hermit, err, homebody.  But the road to bliss was long, paved with uncertainty in a crazy real estate market, and not to mention 37 days of living with my parents on their 6-acre homestead (not that I was counting.  Mom, if you are reading this, I love you).  And, seriously, what is it about pregnancy and the impending second child that makes one think, "Hey, this is a great time to move!!"  And, let's not even talk about the gawd-awful Seattle real estate market.

But, I have to say, one of the best, most amazing things about our new digs: I'm able to entertain and have been doing so like a mad woman.  My Jewish motherly instincts are in over-drive and we have a steady stream of guests every week.  It is the best.  Now, this desire to lovingly feed everyone I know has forced some serious creativity on my part with meal planning, and the most most important part of any meal, in my humble opinion - dessert.  

I am a dessert person and I always have been, thanks to our beloved grandmother, Nonee.  Nonee had an amazing sense of style, a sweet tooth, and a never ending stash of chocolate pudding and chips ahoy, ready to indulge whenever we stopped by for a visit.  I am so serious about dessert, that I am totally the person (and I know you are, too) that picks dessert before selecting a main course when going out for a meal.  I frickin' love dessert and there's no way I am going to let some entree sabotage the goodness that is sure to follow.  Which brings me to the whole point of this post, and something I take very seriously - breakfast dessert.  Yes, this is a real thing in my life.  Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, right?  So why the hell would you NOT serve dessert with it?

So, last weekend, we were on our third day in a row of guests and had a low-key brunch planned with a dear friend.  Breakfast was simple and consisted of the usual scrambled eggs, breakfast sausage, fruit, yaddi-yada.  But then, I really razzle-dazzled our friends for the final, and most critical part of the mea: homemade pop tarts.  They are basically little hand pies with frosting (and sprinkles if you're gettin' crazy), but dang they bring you back to being a kid.  Buttery, flaky crust, sweet filling, and a nice vanilla flavored doesn't get much better than that. Our Nonee would be proud.

This homemade pop tart is really a hodgepodge of a few different pop tart recipes.  These babies also freeze well and re-heat perfectly in the toaster (weekday breakfast score!).  You can get creative with your filling too -   I've done strawberry jam with vanilla icing and sprinkles, as well as apple compote with vanilla icing and a sprinkle of cinnamon sugar.  Whatever fruit you have on hand, or have a serious craving for - just go for it!

Homemade Pop Tarts (aka Breakfast Dessert Numero Uno)

For The Filling

 10-12 oz blackberries, raspberries, or both (you can pretty much sub in any kind of fruit here)

1 T Lemon juice

1-2 T cornstarch (depending on how juicy your fruit; juicier add more)

1-4 T sugar, depending on sweetness of fruit

Cook berries with lemon juice, cornstarch and sugar, over medium heat, mashing a bit and letting bubble gently, about 4-5 minutes or until consistency of thick jam.  Taste to adjust for sugar.  Add more if needed. Let cool a bit.

For the dough:

2 cups (8.5 oz) AP flour

1 Tblsp sugar

1 tsp salt

1 C (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter,  grated or cut into small chunks

1 large egg 

2 Tblsp Milk

1 additional egg, for egg wash

Whisk together (or pulse in the bowl of a food processor) flour, sugar and salt.  With your fingers, pastry blender or food processor, blend until pea-sized lumps of butter are still visible, and the mixture holds together when you squeeze it. If you’ve used a food processor, transfer the mixture to a large bowl. Whisk the first egg and milk together and stir them into the dough, mixing just until everything is cohesive, kneading briefly on a well-floured counter if necessary.  Divide the dough in half (approximately 8 1/4 ounces each), shape each half into a smooth rectangle, about 3×5 inches. Wrap each half in plastic and refrigerate, letting rest for at least 30 minutes and up to 2 days.

For the icing (optional)

1 C confectioners sugar

1 T milk

1/2 t vanilla

Add all ingredients to a bowl and whisk until combined.  I like the glaze a little thicker, so if it is too runny, just add more powdered sugar.

Assemble the tarts: 

If the dough has been chilled, remove it from the refrigerator and allow it to soften and become workable, about 15 to 30 minutes. Place one piece on a lightly floured work surface, and roll it into a rectangle about 1/8″ thick, large enough that you can trim it to an even 9″ x 12″ (you can use a 9″ x 13″ pan, laid on top, as guidance). Repeat with the second piece of dough. Set trimmings aside. Cut each piece of dough into thirds – you’ll form nine 3″ x 4″ rectangles.

Beat the additional egg and brush it over the entire surface of the first dough. This will be the “inside” of the tart; the egg is to help glue the lid on. Place a heaping tablespoon of filling into the center of each rectangle, keeping a bare 1/2-inch perimeter around it. 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. Press the tines of a fork all around the edge of the rectangle. Repeat with remaining tarts.

Gently place the tarts on a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet. Prick the top of each tart multiple times with a fork; you want to make sure steam can escape, or the tarts will become billowy pillows rather than flat toaster pastries. Refrigerate the tarts (they don’t need to be covered) for 30 minutes, while you preheat your oven to 350°F.  Remove the tarts from the fridge, and bake them for 20 to 25 minutes, until they’re a light golden brown. Cool in pan on rack.

If you are going to eat right away, spread glaze over pastry and enjoy!  However if you are going to freeze and re-heat in the toaster, make the glaze as needed and spread over your pop tart after it's been re-heated.

Dough recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen.