Monday, February 11, 2013

Homemade Strawberry Pop "Hearts"

Even with all the gourmet, from-scratch baking I do, I still dearly love pop tarts.  Yes, pop tarts.  

Growing up, we occasionally had pop tarts in our packed lunches, but most often they were the unfrosted version & of the fruit flavor variety.  I always wanted the frosted ones, but alas, that was not meant to be.....  I’m not exactly certain when I developed my particular fondness for frosted brown sugar cinnamon pop tarts, but they are, without question, my favorite.  I especially love them bought from a gas station convenience store on road trips.

And I have a particular ritual for eating the pop tarts.  Even though they come two to a package, I usually resolve to eat only one & save the other for later.  I always fail at that resolution. I turn the tart upside down, so that the frosted side touches my tongue, rather than the unfrosted side.  And I eat from the outsides to the middle, taking bites only from the perimeter, keeping the tart square throughout the process.  

But I have been unable to enjoy my beloved pop tarts, since they are full of wheat, and my body, apparently, has decided it doesn’t like wheat. So, if I want to eat a pop tart, I have to make it myself.  

With Valentine’s Day quickly  approaching, I decided to take a slightly different approach with my homemade tarts.  Instead of squares, I made them heart shaped, essentially making them into pop “hearts” (as my husband called them).  I used a jar of my homemade strawberry jam, slightly thickened, as the filling.  And I decided it was only fitting to garnish the frosted tarts with a smattering of Valentine’s sprinkles.  They’re a bit more flakey & not nearly as sturdy as the commercial version, but they are infinitely tastier!  

Hey, nearly anyone can make their loved ones heart-shaped pancakes for Valentine’s Day, but it takes a whole different level of planning to make your sweetie a homemade pop “hearts.”  With Valentine’s Day only a few days away, you still have time to make these!  If you happen to run out of time, you can still use store-bought jam & pre-made pie crust dough.  Just add some glaze & a few sprinkles--it’ll still be great.

Note: My Laminated Doughs & Breakfast Pastries class use to make these homemade pop tarts in one of their class periods. Sadly, the recipe I have does not list the original source or author, and I no longer remember where I found this great recipe.  My sincerest apologies! 

Homemade Pop Tart Hearts (aka “Pop Hearts”) 
Yield: approximately 10 pastries 

Pastry Dough
8.5 oz AP Flour (or I substituted my favorite AP Gluten Free Flour Mix)
1 Tbl  Granulated Sugar
1 tsp  Fine Grain Sea Salt
8 oz   Unsalted Butter, cold, cut into cubes
1 whole Egg
1 oz  Milk

  1.  Combine the flour, sugar, and salt in a bowl.  Sprinkle the cold cubes of butter over the dough.  Use a pastry cutter to cut the butter into the dry ingredients until it resembles coarse meal.  
  2. Whisk together the egg & milk and drizzle into the bowl.  Mix until just combined.  
  3. Divide the dough into two pieces, flatten into discs, wrap & refrigerate overnight (if you can) or if you’re pressed for time, at least 1 hour.  

Jam Filling
Note: if using store-bought jam, reduce the cornstarch & water by half.  And feel free to use whatever Jam you like.  I used Strawberry.  

8 oz  Homemade Jam
1 Tbl Cornstarch
1 Tbl Cold Water
Splash of Vanilla Extract

  1.  In a heavy bottom sauce pan, heat the jam over medium heat. 
  2. Make a slurry with the corn starch and water, mixing until there are no lumps {I use my fingers to ensure no hiding lumps} 
  3. Whisk the slurry into the heated jam.  Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring constantly.  Boil for 2 minutes.  
  4. Remove from the heat to cool completely before assembling the tarts

Note: In a pinch, these assembly instructions can be used with store bought pie-dough & jam..... 

1 batch of Pastry
additional flour for dusting.
1 batch of jam filling
1 egg, beaten
Glaze, optional
Sprinkles, optional

  1. Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.  
  2. On a well-floured surface, roll the pastry dough out until it is roughly 1/8” thick.  Cut as many heart shapes out of the dough as possible.  The dough may be re-rolled once to make additional shapes.  
  3. Lightly paint the edges of half of the hearts (the bottom pieces) with the beaten egg.  The egg will help as “glue” to help the top and bottom pieces stick together.  
  4. Place a generous tablespoon of filling in the center of the tart.  Spread it out, just slightly, making sure to keep the edges free from filling.  Top with a second heart & gently press around the edges to adhere. Press with a fork around the edges to ensure a good seal.  
  5. Transfer the heart to the baking pan. Use a knife to gently pierce the heart a couple of times to allow the steam to escape during the baking process. Repeat with the remaining heart shapes.  
  6. Chill the hearts, uncovered, in the refrigerator for 20 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350 F. 
  7. Bake the pastries for 20 to 25 minutes until they are just barely golden.  If you intend to “toast” the tarts later, make especially sure they are initially baked very light.  
  8. Remove from the oven and cool slightly.  Optional: garnish by drizzling or dipping the tops in glaze (recipe follows) and adding a few festive sprinkles.  

Note: Confession time!  I never measure when I make glaze.... I just whisk Confectioners sugar with a little milk & vanilla.  But here is a guideline recipe, in case you need some guidelines.  
1 c Confectioners Sugar
2 Tbl Milk
splash Vanilla Extract
  1.  Whisk the confectioners sugar with the milk until it forms a spreadable consistency.  
  2. Use immediately, or keep completely covered until ready to use.   

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