Monday, April 2, 2012

Mini Strawberry Pop Tarts

Homemade Mini Strawberry Pop Tarts!!!

That's what these are.

Well....a grown-up version. 

I'm talking fresh strawberry jam nestled in between two rectangles of all-butter pastry and then sprinkled with crunchy sugar and baked to perfection.

Making these at home and making them super small let's us be kids again but still be adults at the same time. I love mini things. Not because of portion control, but because I can eat more of them, I can eat them with my fingers and because mini anything is just so damn cute.

You can go to the grocery store and buy a pack and say it's for your kids, but you know you want one. We've all snuck into the box before. Maybe nibbled on some teddy grahams and cracked open a package of dunkaroos at midnight? I don't have kids but if I did I'd be all up in that stuff. Do they still make dunkaroos?

Now you don't have to feel embarrassed that you like kid snacks because you can make them with your own grown up hands. Kids have nothing on us!

The result is a lightly golden, buttery and flaky crust with a sweet strawberry filling. Some of the filling might bubble out during baking which makes them all that more tempting.

The filling consists of loads of fresh strawberries cooked down with sugar and lemon juice. It is essentially homemade strawberry jam and it is extra-O(rdinary).

After rolling out the dough and cutting it into about 24 little rectangles, about a teaspoon of this sweet juicy jam is delicately placed in the center of half of them. As tempting as it maybe be, it is important to make sure you don't fill them too much or it will squish out when you seal the edges together. 

Too much filling might also create so much steam that these little pastry bundles burst in the oven. It happens. No worries. 

Call your friends. Tell them you made grown-up Pop Tarts. Without a toaster. This is huge. They'll freak out. If they ask about that sugary icing...well, you can answer.

Just whisk up some icing sugar with a few drops of water or lemon juice until it forms a glaze and spoon it over these little guys. Done.

Instant love and friendships are born and pop tarts get re-born.

Homemade pastry turns people into friends and boyfriends into husbands. It's the circle of life.

Homemade Mini Strawberry Pop Tarts
Makes about 16 little pop tarts

For the pie dough:
½ cup very cold unsalted butter, cut into ¾-inch cubes
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2 tbsp granulated sugar
¼ tsp salt
4 tbsp ice cold water

For the filling:
8 oz/227 g hulled and chopped strawberries (about 1 cup)
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

For the topping:
1 tbsp 2% milk
1 tbsp coarse sanding sugar

To make the pastry, first place the butter in the freezer for 15 minutes. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar and salt. Add the cold butter and toss in flour mixture to coat. Using a pastry blender or a bench scraper, cut the fat into flour to break it down into hazelnut or marble-sized pieces. Use your fingertips to further rub fat into flour until it resembles a coarse, crumbly mixture. There should be pieces of butter that are the size of oat flakes and bigger pieces the size of large peas. Place the bowl in the freezer for 5-10 minutes to allow the fat to firm up. Slowly drizzle cold water over flour mixture, one tablespoon at a time, while gently tossing with a fork until the flour is moistened and it holds together in clumps. You may not need all of the water. The dough will hold together when squeezed or pressed when it is ready, but it should not form a ball. Turn dough out onto a clean surface and bring it together with your hands, pressing in loose bits. You should be able to see solid bits of fat in the dough. Divide the dough in half, flatten each half to form a square and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight.

To make the filling, place chopped strawberries in a small 1-quart saucepan over medium-low heat, cover and cook gently until they release their juices and look soupy, 5-7 minutes. Stir in sugar, bring the mixture to a low boil and then simmer for 5 minutes longer, uncovered. Use a potato masher to break down the fruit a bit, but still leave it rather chunky. Stir in lemon juice, cover and boil gently until thick, about 15 minutes longer. Set aside to cool completely and then refrigerate until completely set, about 2 hours or overnight.

Line two large 17x11-inch baking sheets with parchment paper. 

On a lightly floured work surface, roll one half of the dough out into a large rectangle with 1/8-inch thickness. Trim the sides with a knife so that you have a 9x8-inch rectangle with straight edges. Along the length, cut the rectangle into thirds so that you have three 3-inch strips. Then, cut the strips into fourths so that you have twelve small 3x2-inch rectangles in total. Carefully transfer these rectangles to one of your prepared baking tray. Repeat this with the other half of dough. Gather the scraps of both halves and re roll to create more rectangles (I usually get about 8 more).

Spoon a teaspoon of strawberry filling in the center of half of the rectangles so that it is slightly heaped (i.e. do not spread it out). Make sure not to over-fill them and leave about ¼-inch border. Lay another rectangle over the filling and press gently around the edges to seal slightly. Use the tinges of a fork to press the two layers of dough together and seal completely. Place the baking tray with the little pockets in the fridge until firm, about 15 minutes.

Preheat your oven to 375°F.

Lightly brush the tops of the pockets with milk and sprinkle with coarse sanding sugar. Use a toothpick to poke 8 holes at the top to let steam escape during baking. Bake until golden around the edges, about 15 minutes. Transfer to wire rack to cool.
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