Photo: 2012 Jennifer MayBy Kate Rockwood
"Oh my god, this tastes just like a Pop-Tart," my coworker said, breaking off another piece of Starbucks' new brown-sugar-walnut tart. "A really, really delicious Pop-Tart." Having not yet reached the entrance of our office building, we pulled a U-turn and headed back for a second toaster pastry (they're little; don't judge).
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Jerry Seinfeld once said that trying Pop-Tarts for the first time as a kid "blew the back of my head off." And though I haven't touched Pop-Tarts for the better part of a decade, suddenly foodie versions of the foil-wrapped breakfast treats are everywhere: At a recent festival, I feasted on San Francisco-based Black Jet Bakery's flaky, buttery pastry dough enveloping pockets of brown sugar, apricot jam or--brace yourself--jalapeno-cream-cheese, which was as scrumptious as it sounds strange. A good friend served a platter of vanilla-glazed, jam-stuffed toaster pastries from the famous Boston bakery Flour at her birthday party, in lieu of a cake. While shopping for gift ideas for my has-everything-she'll-ever-need mother, I saw a toaster pastry press at Williams Sonoma.
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So when Alana Chernila's new book, The Homemade Pantry: 101 Foods You Can Stop Buying and Start Making, landed on my desk--with a picture of powdered sugar-dusted toaster pastries on the cover, no less!--I was ready to take the hint.
Photo: 2012 Jennifer MayI'd never tried making homemade Pop-Tarts, but there's a first time for everything. Chernila's crust recipe is easy. Like, really easy: just butter, flour, apple cider vinegar, and salt--no sugar, no milk, no fuss. Which is good news, because assembling the tarts took a bit of work. You set one rectangle of pastry dough on a baking pan, spoon jam or sugar in to the middle, and then layer a second rectangle atop it, crimping the edges. (Chernila also recommends savory fillings, like pesto and ricotta or mashed potatoes and sautéed onions.)
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Assembling the pastries, I could feel my perfectionist starting to crop up (was this top layer 1/8-inch longer than that bottom?), but then I looked over and saw my wife happily slapping tops onto bottoms, not a care in the world. "They're Pop-Tarts!" she said, when she caught me eying her misaligned edges, "They're supposed to fun!"
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A half hour later we were tucking into the toaster pastries: not-too-sweet, flaky dough surrounding a little geyser of syrupy blackberry jam. They were delicious--and under a mountain of powdered sugar, it proved impossible to tell neat edges from not. Chernila says the homemade treats will last for up to three weeks; in my household, they lasted three hours.
Get the recipe: Toaster Pastries
Published by Clarkson Potter, a division of Random House, Inc.
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