Ch. 08: Pop-Tarts: a True Underdog Story

Anyone who follows me online knows that I’m obsessed with the Bon Appetit Youtube Channel. It’s bursting at the seams with great recipes and some really personable and entertaining chefs. A true favorite of which is Claire Saffitz who seems to do no wrong.. I’ve been following her series, Gourmet Makes, since it was first released in 2017 and watched as she recreated many beloved snack foods. That being said, I never pictured myself actually making any of these because the idea of tempering chocolate or creating a Pringles mold just isn’t up my alley. Then came the Pop-Tarts which seemed to be a good combination of familiar components with some new techniques to really test my home-baking knowledge. So when the weekend hit, I set off to make them. 

Let’s start off by saying that every component of these is homemade- right down to the sprinkles. After whipping up a quick royal icing and dying it several colors, I spread it out and let that set overnight until hardened. The next day, I chopped them up and voila, homemade sprinklers were done. Interestingly enough, the dough is the easiest component to put together. A quick blitz in the food processor and some chill time later, and that too was checked off. Next came the strawberry jam which was a godsend considering the massive bag of frozen strawberries I had in the freezer just taking up room. After cooking them to death, I finally ended up with a thick and bright red strawberry ketchup-like jam (which would go along great with some churro fries, but I digress). With all of that out of the way, next came the assembly which was actually the most enjoyable part out of this whole process. I’m not usually one for tedious and finicky processes like these, but the extra time spent putting these little guys together was a welcomed distraction from the state of the world. I cut out a little mold and really took my time to get that perfect rectangle of strawberry jam inside the bottom layer before capping them off with the second piece of dough. It then got pressed down with a chopstick and got a little trim at the edges. The real key here is to keep the dough cold at all times so the butter stays hard up until it;s baked in the oven to create all those flaky layers.I had all my little pop-tart army soldiers laid out and ready to bake off in no time. And then, after another layer of royal icing and a dusting of our homemade sprinkles, they were done. 

Now I’ve never been much of a fan of Pop-Tarts, but let me tell you these are insanely good. The coating of icing and sprinkles gives a great satisfying first bite that compliments the tender and buttery pastry. Inside, the strawberry jam is bright and not overly sweet, thanks to all that reducing and introduction of lemon. I savored every bite and took a dozen or so videos for Instagram, knowing just how much work went into them- work well worth it. They proved to be a great breakfast the next day, piping hot from the oven and perfect with that morning’s coffee. I couldn’t be bothered to pipe on more icing, but really, the pastry is so good in-of itself that the icing is just an added bonus. There’s several ways to take shortcuts with this recipe- through the use of store-bought pastry, jam and or sprinkles- but believe me, taking the time to make each of these components from scratch really made them all the more satisfying. It blows the original Pop-Tart completely out of the snack-food water and turned me into a believer. Ironically enough, a few weeks after I posted my pop-tart experiment on Instagram and Facebook, Bon Appetit released the official written recipe on their website. If you’re in for a challenge (and are willing to spend an entire day on a baking project), definitely try these out.

Check out my little demo for Homemade Pop-Tarts

Gourmet Makes: Pop-Tarts Episode from Claire Saffitz and Bon Appetit Team:

Full Recipe | Method by Claire Saffitz from Bon Appetit:

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