Some food items come into our lives and make a lasting impression and stay with you for life. Others you may only vaguely recall making you feel a certain way. Still others come unexpectedly crashing into your life and make you fall hard for them. Knowing that they are a forbidden fruit, you secretly pine away for them and only occasionally succumb to their siren song all the while feeling satisfied and dirty at the same time. That’s how I feel about Pop Tarts.
Whew, that feels good getting that off my chest. Okay…so technically (and legally) these are not Pop Tarts, they’re toaster pastries. But they’re also not full of the strange/unpronounceable ingredients listed on that brightly colored cardboard box that whispers your name as you try to calmly stroll past it down the cereal aisle. I’m not going to wax poetic about the virtues of homemade pop tarts toaster pastries beyond what I just wrote. But by making your own, you can make any kind of filling that you like and then top it with say…some kind of booze soaked glaze (bourbon glaze anyone?).
One of the really nice things about making homemade Pop Tarts is that you can use almost any one of the hundreds of easy pastry recipes that are out there. The only real requirement is that the pastry be able to stand up to being held in your hand (so that usually means the pastry recipe should include an egg). You can find easy pastry recipes online or in almost any basic cookbook. And did you notice I used the word “easy?” That means it’s not a long and complicated process to make these Pop Tarts either. It’s a bit more involved than going to the store and buying them, but not by much – and trust me when I say that they taste so much better and are worth the extra effort.
Since I’ve been digging into my fall recipes and using lots of produce and seasonings that signal the arrival of Fall, I thought that I would continue that trend for these. I also noticed one ingredient that has been MIA from my previous fall recipes…bacon. This oversight must be reconciled immediately. So the filling in these little toaster pastries consists of fig, bacon, orange juice, honey, walnuts and sugar – YUM!
Because I was trying to make these Pop Tarts way more special than the store bought variety, I struggled with what topping to use: maple or chocolate maple. Since I couldn’t very well ask Craig for comment (his standard answer to all of my questions is – “whatever you think”) I put the question out in the Twitterverse. It was a landslide vote for maple. While making up the maple glaze I ran out of maple syrup and I had to think quickly what else I could use to make up the difference. Since bourbon goes so well with maple, the topping became a maple bourbon glaze. This, of course, was a great relief to my friends who were a bit upset that my adult version of toaster pastries was not going to have any alcohol in it.
These only lasted longer than a day in our house because I made Craig take some to work. They didn’t last long there.
Much like the Pop Tarts, people come into our lives that leave an indelible mark on our psyche. Some leave good marks and make us stronger and better people for having known them and some leave something more like a gash instead of a mark on us (and not in a good way as most gashes are not good things). Aside from the obvious negative impact these people have on us in the short run, the long term impact of these people affects those that we meet further down the line.
I fully understand that what I am about to say is easier said (or written) than done, but remember that these marks are just surface imperfections that are proof of a life well lead. There will, no doubt, be more gashes (hopefully not too many). But how do we know when we have found good people to have in our lives unless we have experienced some of the not so good people?
Homemade Pop Tarts with Maple Bourbon Glaze
Makes 9 toaster pastries
Pastry Dough Ingredients
Pastry dough recipe adapted from King Arthur Flour
- 2 Cups All Purpose Flour
- 1 Tablespoon Sugar
- 1 Teaspoon Salt
- 1 Cup Chilled Unsalted Butter – 2 Sticks (cut into pieces)
- 2 Large Eggs (separated)
- 2 Tablespoons Half and Half (or milk)
Ingredients for Fig and Bacon Filling
- 1 Cup Dried Mission Figs (chopped to small pieces approx. 1/4″)
- Orange Juice (enough to cover figs)
- 4 Pieces Thick Cut Applewood Smoked Bacon (chopped width wise into 1/4″ strips)
- 1/2 Cup Sugar
- 1/2 Cup Walnuts (chopped to small pieces)
- 1/2 Teaspoon Ginger
- 1/4 Teaspoon Cinnamon
- 1/4 Teaspoon Ground Cloves
- 2 Tablespoons Honey
- 1 Tablespoon Cider Vinegar
- Kosher Salt
Ingredients for Maple Bourbon Glaze
- 3/4 Cup Confectioner’s Sugar
- 2 Teaspoons Vanilla Extract
- 2 Teaspoons Water
- 2 Tablespoons Grade B Maple Syrup
- 2 Tablespoons Bourbon
Directions for Pastry Dough
In a medium size bowl whisk one egg and half and half together until thoroughly combined and set aside.
In the bowl of your food processor add the flour, sugar, salt and the pieces from one of the sticks of butter. Pulse until butter disappears into flour mixture. Next add the second stick of butter pieces and pulse again until butter disappears and what is left is fine crumbles.
Pour flour/butter mixture into the egg and half and half. Whisk to combine (yes, that is enough liquid to do that). You only need to whisk until the dough is damp and holds together when you squeeze it in your hand.
Knead the dough a few times, in the bowl, until it all comes together into one large piece.
Separate the dough into two equal pieces and wrap with plastic wrap.
Place in the refrigerator for at least one hour or up to 2 days.
Let the dough sit on the counter for 15 – 30 minutes to become workable. On a well floured surface roll each dough piece into a 9″ x 12″ rectangle.
Cut that rectangle into 3″ x 4″ pieces and brush one of the rectangles with a beaten egg.
Directions for Filling
Pour the dried and chopped figs into a bowl and cover them with orange juice. Let them sit for at least 4 hours or overnight.
Either before making the dough or while the dough is chilling you can make the filling.
In a heavy bottomed medium sized pot add the chopped bacon and begin to cook it down over medium high heat. Keep stirring it so that it doesn’t burn.
When the bacon is roughly half cooked (the bacon pieces will be more than half browned) add the figs and orange juice and give it a good stir.
Next add the sugar, walnuts, ginger cinnamon and cloves. Stir to combine.
As the mixture begins to cook down, add in the honey and cider vinegar. Stir again.
Continue to stir regularly and watch so that the mixture doesn’t burn.
Taste the filling. If you like, add a pinch of kosher salt.
The mixture is done when it thickens up to a paste like consistency (not watery).
Remove from heat and let cool.
Directions for Maple Bourbon Glaze
In a bowl add the sugar, vanilla, water, maple syrup and bourbon.
Whisk until there are no lumps.
Toaster Pastries Assembly
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Farenheit.
Place a generous amount of filling onto the dough rectangle that has been brushed with the egg. Leave a 1/2″ border around the edges.
Top with a dry dough rectangle.
Press the edges together and then use a fork to press down and seal the edges.
Slide the Pop Tarts onto a baking sheet that has been lined with a silicon baking sheet or parchment paper.
Brush the tops of the pastries with the remaining beaten egg.
Prick the top of each pastry, with a fork, to let the steam escape while the Pop Tarts are baking.
Chill the Pop Tarts for 15 minutes in the refrigerator.
Bake for 25 – 35 minutes.
Pastries are done when the dough is golden brown.
Once pastries are cool to the touch, drizzle glaze over the tops.
* You could also use a thick jelly for the filling if you would like other flavors.