Credit: Matt DuckorBy Danielle Walsh, Bon Appétit
In our column, Junk Food Makeover, we challenge culinary nutritionist Tricia Williams to recreate iconic snacks with more wholesome, better-for-you recipes.
Forget breakfast for dessert. We eat dessert for breakfast all the time, from sugary cereals to grab-and-go toaster pastries. And Pop-Tarts are delicious, to be sure. (Are there any other brands of toaster pastries? None that register in our book.) But your average frosted strawberry Pop-Tart contains 200 calories and 16 grams of sugar per serving (plus, one serving is one pastry, even though two pastries come per package). Bear in mind, they were first put into grocery store aisles with cakes and cookies when they hit the market in 1964. Factor in their corn syrup, artificial flavoring, and dyes, and you see what we're saying: A "toaster pastry" does not a start-off-the-day-right breakfast choice make.
Read More: Junk Food Makeover: Chicken Nuggets
As usual for our Junk Food Makeover series, we asked Tricia Williams to re-imagine them with a healthier, more nutritious recipe. "The jammy center represents what we perceive as the healthy part of a Pop-Tart, and is arguably the best part," Williams said. "But it's mostly artificial. We made a gluten-free pastry and real strawberry jam (strawberries are in-season now, too!)."
In appearance, Williams's version didn't really look like Pop-Tarts. But once we bit into them, we were surprised: They tasted like a healthy take on shortbread, with a tart-sweet jam in the center. One taster described them as a "raspberry fig newton." Our main qualm was that they fell apart a bit too easily--a common issue of gluten-free baking--so we're not sure they are toaster-ready. Another taster noted that these are "not the kind of thing you can take on the go, as Pop-Tarts were intended to be. If you're sitting down with a plate and napkin, they're nice all-around." And be prepared for a coconut flavor, since this pastry is made with coconut palm sugar.
You'll find Williams's gluten-free recipe below. But if you want to make a less healthy Pop-Tart and don't mind indulging, we have a regular homemade Pop-Tart recipe, too.
"Pop-Tarts" (Makes 8)
By Elisabeth Nelson and Vanessa Won
1 pint fresh strawberries (about 2 cups), hulled, chopped
1 Tbsp. arrowroot
1 Tbsp. coconut sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. chia seeds
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
Small pinch of lemon zest
3/4 cup coconut sugar
1/2 cup arrowroot
1 cup sorghum flour plus more for surface
1/2 cup teff 2 Tbsp. golden flaxseed meal
1 tsp. cream of tartar
1/2 tsp. guar gum
1/4 tsp. fine sea salt
3/4 cup chilled coconut oil
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Read More: The 5 Best Pints of Store-Bought Ice Cream
Arrowroot, a thickening agent, is available at natural foods stores, Asian markets, and in the spice section of many supermarkets. Chia seeds, sorghum flour, teff, golden flaxseed meal, and guar gum are sold at natural foods stores and bobsredmill.com. Coconut sugar can be found at natural food stores and amazon.com.
Strawberry Filling Stir strawberries, arrowroot, coconut sugar, salt, and 1 Tbsp. water in a small saucepan over medium-low heat until sugar dissolves and strawberries begin to break down. Remove pan from heat; stir in chia seeds, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Transfer filling to an airtight container and chill until filling sets up and thickens. Transfer mixture to a food processor; pulse just until a very coarse purée forms.
Dough Pulse coconut sugar and arrowroot in a food processor until mixture resembles powdered sugar. Add 1 cup sorghum flour, teff, flaxseed meal, cream of tartar, guar gum, and salt; pulse to combine.
Add oil by tablespoonfuls, pulsing between additions until mixture is crumbly. Add 1 egg, vanilla, and 1 Tbsp. ice water; pulse just until dough comes together. Gather dough into a ball, and divide in half. Flatten each half into a rectangle. Wrap in parchment paper, and chill for 15 minutes.
Preheat oven to 375°. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Lightly beat remaining egg and 1 Tbsp. water in a small bowl. Working with 1 piece of dough at a time, roll out dough on a floured work surface to 1/4" thickness, keeping rectangular shape. Cut rectangle into eight 4x3" rectangles. Transfer 4 rectangles to prepared baking sheet. Spoon 1 Tbsp. filling in to the center of each; brush edges of dough with egg wash. Cover filling with remaining rectangles; gently press edges of each tart with your fingertips to seal, then crimp using a fork. Repeat with remaining dough and filling. When all tarts have been massembled, brush tops lightly with egg wash. Bake, rotating baking sheet half way through, for 10 minutes. Transfer tarts to wire racks. Let cool completely.
Note: These recipes have not been tested by the Bon Appétit Test Kitchen.
Tricia Williams is a culinary nutritionist based in New York City. Her business, Food Matters, is a food delivery service that creates diets to combat health issues.
More from Bon Appétit:
10 Snacks You Thought Were Healthy But Really Aren't
10 Quick and Easy School-Night Dinners
25 One-Bite Appetizers
Junk Food Makeover: Healthier Chicken Nuggets
Credit: Matt DuckorBy Danielle Walsh, Bon Appétit