Stella Parks’ Homemade Pop-Tarts

published Nov 30, 2021
Stella Parks' Homemade Pop-Tarts Recipe

Like a gingerbread house, Homemade Pop-Tarts are more like an arts-and-crafts project than a traditional recipe, but the results are freakishly authentic.

Makes12 pastries

Cook16 minutes

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Credit: Penny De Los Santos

Like a gingerbread house, Homemade Pop-Tarts are more like an arts-and-crafts project than a traditional recipe, but the results are freakishly authentic. From their size and shape to the shellacking of vanilla glaze and the crumbly sweet dough, my Homemade Pop-Tarts taste exactly like the original. They even have what it takes to survive the wrath of a toaster: a thick strawberry filling that won’t bubble or drip.

Bravetart is Kitchn’s November pick for our Cookbook Club. See how you can participate here.

Stella Parks' Homemade Pop-Tarts Recipe

Like a gingerbread house, Homemade Pop-Tarts are more like an arts-and-crafts project than a traditional recipe, but the results are freakishly authentic.

Cook time 16 minutes

Makes 12 pastries

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

Filling:

  • 1 1/2 cups

    (1 1/4 ounces) freeze-dried strawberries

  • 4 cups

    (12 ounces) dried apples, still soft and moist

  • 2 tablespoons

    (1 ounce) applesauce, sweetened if you like

Dough:

  • 3 1/4 cups

    (14 1/2 ounces) all-purpose flour, such as Gold Medal, plus more for dusting

  • 1 teaspoon

    baking powder

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    Diamond Crystal kosher salt (half as much if iodized)

  • 1/4 cup

    (1 3/4 ounces) sugar

  • 2 sticks

    (8 ounces) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

  • 1/2 cup

    (6 ounces) light corn syrup

Glaze:

  • 1 3/4 cups

    (7 ounces) organic powdered sugar, sifted

  • 3 tablespoons

    (1 1/2 ounces) whole milk or lightly beaten egg whites

  • 1/8 teaspoon

    Diamond Crystal kosher salt (half as much if iodized)

  • 1 teaspoon

    vanilla extract

  • Rainbow sprinkles

Instructions

Prepare the filling:

  1. Place freeze-dried strawberries in the bowl of a food processor. Cover with a sheet of plastic to contain the dust and grind until powdery and fine. Discard the plastic, add the apples, and pulse until the mixture forms a ball, about 2 minutes. Add applesauce and process for a minute more, pausing halfway through to scrape the bowl and blade with a flexible spatula.

  2. Place a large piece of parchment (not wax!) paper on the counter, secure with tape, and grease lightly. Scrape the fruit paste in the center and shape into a 5-inch square. Top with a second sheet of lightly greased parchment and roll into an 11-inch square. Peel off the top sheet and slide onto a cutting board.

  3. Sprinkle the paste with a little water to prevent sticking. Use a ruler and pizza wheel to cut it into four 2 1/2-inch-wide strips, then cut each into three 3 1/2-inch-long rectangles, pressing firmly with the knife to cut through the parchment as well. Refrigerate, uncovered, for an hour to dry the paste. Use immediately, or stack the pieces, still on the paper, in a zip-top bag, and refrigerate for up to 1 month.

Make the dough:

  1. Sift flour into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (if using cup measures, spoon into the cups and level with a knife before sifting). Add baking powder, salt, sugar, and butter and mix on low until the butter disappears. Add corn syrup and continue mixing to form a stiff dough.

  2. Knead against the sides of the bowl to form a smooth ball, then divide in half and flatten into discs. Use immediately, or wrap in plastic and refrigerate for up to 1 week; soften chilled dough for 30 minutes at room temperature before using.

Roll and assemble the tarts:

  1. Knead one piece of dough on a bare work surface until pliable and smooth. On a well-floured work surface, roll into an 8-inch square. Sprinkle both sides with flour and roll into a 15-inch square, no more than 1/8-inch thick. Slide an offset spatula under the dough to loosen it and brush off excess flour.

  2. Cut into four 3 1/4-inch-wide strips, then then cut each into three 4 1/4-inch-long rectangles. Arrange on a parchment-lined aluminum baking sheet. Top each with a piece of chilled filling, peel off the parchment backing, and refrigerate.

  3. Roll and cut the remaining dough as before. Place each piece over the chilled filling and lightly “squeegee” the dough with your index finger to expel any air pockets. Press gently to mold it against the filling and dough (the pieces will meld together as they bake). Pierce each tart 8 times with the narrow end of a chopstick or bamboo skewer, pressing until you hit the baking sheet. Cover with plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes, or up to 3 days.

Bake and glaze the tarts:

  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat to 350°F. Uncover and bake the chilled tarts until firm and dry but still very pale, about 16 minutes. If you like, use a pizza wheel to “sharpen” the edges of each tart. Cool to room temperature on the baking sheet.

  2. Meanwhile, combine powdered sugar, milk, salt, and vanilla in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on low speed to moisten, then increase to medium and beat for 5 minutes to dissolve the powdered sugar; the glaze will be quite thin.

  3. Dust tarts with a paper towel to remove any stray crumbs and arrange on a wire rack. Use a pastry brush to swipe glaze down the length of each tart, going over the bottom edge, repeating as needed for even coverage. Clean up stray dribbles with a paper towel, then top with sprinkles and let the glaze harden, about 30 minutes.

  4. Enjoy at room temperature or toasted. In an airtight container with a sheet of parchment between each layer, Homemade Pop-Tarts® will keep for up to 2 weeks at room temperature.

Recipe Notes

Brown sugar variation: Omit the freeze-dried fruit and process apples with 6 ounces (3/4 cup packed) dark brown sugar instead. Along with the applesauce, add 1 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon and 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt (half as much if iodized), then proceed as directed. If you like, flavor the glaze with 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon.

Recipe and photograph from BraveTart: Iconic American Desserts by Stella Parks. Copyright © 2017 by Stella Parks. Reprinted with permission of W.W. Norton & Company, Inc. All rights reserved.