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Either Kellogg's now manufactures Pop-Tarts using a reformulated recipe or the tastebuds I possessed as a child had not developed enough to distinguish between crap and yum. As a kid, I thought Pop-Tarts represented the absolute pinnacle of deliciousness. I remember each nibble bringing supreme, no, divine pleasure. My adult palate, however, finds every bite a new adventure in disappointment.
The only thing more disappointing? The results of a search for "Pop-Tart +recipe".
Go ahead. Take a peek at the results. It's like looking into an alternate universe where the word Pop-Tart means nothing more than "some sort of small pastry."
They all sport ultra flaky, golden brown crusts, trendy flavor pairings and cutesy shapes. Edges adorably crimped with a fork. They look splendid. Elegant. Filled with jammy goodness.
But with all due respect to the creative bloggers, recipe developers, and chefs out there: Have you people ever even seen a freaking Pop-Tart before?!? These recipes have lost the heart of the Pop-Tart.
One could never accuse Pop-Tarts of having anything to do with flaky or jammy goodness. Toaster Strudels, maybe. But Pop-Tarts? No sir. They have a crust somewhere between a cookie and a pastry; their fruit filling is so thick and dry that Fruit Roll Ups seems luscious in comparison. How can all of these copy cat recipes so uniformly miss the mark?
I want the fun, fruit filled snacks I ate as a kid, not a hand pie. Culinary degree notwithstanding, I have a soft spot for that anemic pastry just as it is; with a micron of ostensibly real fruit filling and shellacking of rainbow sprinkled frosting. An exterior that screams, "I ♥ the 80s and/or possibly certain parts of the mid-90s!" not something one could My Fair Lady into the pages of Saveur.
Even more importantly, a Pop-Tart should get tastier the longer it sits in my pantry and must have the fortitude to withstand a toasting so I can enjoy the taste of real fruit, real hot hot hot.
Yes, mine is only one of a hundred recipes out there for homemade Pop-Tarts. But I'd like to think I've set mine apart with a complete lack of flakiness, elegance, and ease of preparation. This recipe won't serve as a vehicle to showcase your fabulous homemade jam. You can't, in fact, even use jam. And my dough won't double for a pie crust or make a good turnover. It doesn't taste like a trip to France, it tastes like a trip to the convenience store.
It tastes like a Pop-Tart. The one you remember, if not the one currently on the market. A recipe for those, like me, who long to bake up something so cool they're hot, so hot... they're cool.
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About the Author: Stella Parks suffers from an unhealthy obsession with recreating the mass produced snacks of her childhood, but ironically is employed by a Frenchman to make the high brow desserts of his childhood. She blogs that dichotomy at bravetart.com and can be followed on Twitter at @thebravetart.