On busy weekdays, I eat cereal or toast for breakfast. But when bad weather is expected, I plan ahead for something a little more fun. The day before the last big storm, I was buying batteries and canned beans like everyone else. But I also stocked up on jam, sprinkles and powdered sugar. As I settled in for the night, I transferred some frozen pie dough to my refrigerator, said a little prayer that we'd still have electricity in the morning and dreamed of homemade Pop Tarts.
Kellogg's Pop Tarts celebrated its 50th anniversary last year. Debuting in 1964, they were an instant hit with children (and adults) who had already embraced Apple Jacks and Fruit Loops. I used to beg my mother to buy them, but, although she had no problem with sugary cereals for breakfast, she drew the line at sugar encased in pastry and slathered in more sugar. Or perhaps she was afraid of a kitchen fire. Since their introduction, there have been several reports that a toaster's failure to eject the pastries can result in dangerously flaming breakfast pastries.
These tarts look enough like the commercial variety to get your kids excited. They don't have the same gummy texture and bland yet decidedly artificial flavor, but in this case lack of authenticity is a good thing. Your favorite homemade pie dough, or the best-quality dough from Trader Joe's or Whole Foods, will make your pastries flaky. To keep the filling from leaking and spreading, stir a little cornstarch into your jam before using. A little bit of cream in the frosting gives it a luxurious flavor. Eat your pastries at room temperature or rewarm them for a few minutes on a baking sheet in the oven. Reheating them in a toaster won't cause a fire, but it will cause the frosting to melt and burn.
If you'd prefer, substitute Nutella (about 1½ tablespoons for each pastry) for the jam mixture. In this case, skip the frosting and dust your pastries with powdered sugar before serving.
HOMEMADE POP TARTS
For the filling:
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon cold water
¾ cup jam
Two disks (about 1¼ pounds) homemade or store-bought pie dough, chilled
For the frosting (optional):
1 cup powdered sugar
3 to 4 tablespoons heavy cream
1. Make filling: Combine the cornstarch and water in a small bowl and stir until smooth. Place the jam in a small pot, add the cornstarch mixture and cook over medium-low until hot. Transfer back to the bowl and let cool completely.
2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Roll one piece of pastry into a 13-inch-by-11-inch rectangle. Trim to an even 12-inch-by-10-inch rectangle. Use a sharp paring knife or a pizza wheel to cut into eight 5-inch-by-3-inch rectangles. Transfer to the parchment-lined baking sheet.
3. Spoon the cooled filling over the smaller rectangles. Roll and cut the remaining piece of pastry as above and top preserves with a second small rectangle. Press the edges with the tines of a fork to seal. Use a skewer or toothpick to poke a few holes in the top of each pastry. Place baking sheet in freezer for 30 minutes.
4. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake pastries until golden, 25 to 30 minutes. Transfer pastries to a wire rack to cool completely.
5. Make frosting: Whisk together powdered sugar and heavy cream until smooth. Spread or drizzle over cooled pastries (if drizzling, you might want to add more cream, ½ teaspoon at a time, for a looser consistency). Sprinkle with sprinkles. Let stand until frosting is set (about 20 minutes) and serve. Makes 8 breakfast pastries.