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Homemade pop tarts? Absolutely.

Making pop tarts takes more steps than buying them at the store, but you can use a variety of flavors, with almond-flavored frangipane a delicious possibility.

January 05, 2012

Homemade pop tarts? Are we crazy? Absolutely not. This isn't just another example of the locavore artisanal movement gone mad, these pastries developed by food writer Amy Scattergood are really delicious. The dough is much richer and flakier than the original — and it's made with whole wheat. You can fill it with jam or fruit preserves and it'll be really good. But what got this recipe into the top 10 was the filling of almond-flavored frangipane. Making them is a bit of a project — certainly more work than just popping them in the toaster — but the flavor more than makes it worthwhile.

Homemade pop tarts

Total time: 2 hours

Servings: 8 pop tarts

Note: The pie dough also makes enough dough for 1 double-crust or 2 single-crust pies.

Pie dough

3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (1¾ sticks) butter

1/2 cup cold water

1 3/4 cups (7.4 ounces) flour

1/2 cup (2.25 ounces) whole wheat flour

1 tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 egg yolk

1/2 teaspoon cider vinegar

1. Cut the butter into medium-sized cubes and put it in the freezer. Put half a cup of cold water in the freezer too while you assemble the other ingredients for the recipe. Put 2 sheets of plastic wrap, about 24 inches long, on a work surface, overlapping them lengthwise by a few inches so that they form a big triangle.

2. Put the flours, sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor, then pulse it once or twice to make sure the ingredients are combined. In a small bowl, mix together the egg yolk and vinegar. When the butter is quite hard, after about one-half hour, add the pieces to the food processor. Pulse it half a dozen times, until the pieces of butter are about the size of jelly beans.

3. Take the ice water out of the freezer (it should be very cold but not frozen) and mix it into the egg and vinegar mixture. Immediately add this to the mixture in the food processor and pulse until the mixture begins to come together. The bits of butter will still be visible, about the size of peas.

4. Dump the mixture out into the middle of the plastic wrap. Pull the edges of the plastic up around the dough, squashing it together and blending in the streaks of butter, which you should still be able to see in the dough. Don't overwork the dough or blend in all the butter: It should be streaky and just come together.

5. Using the plastic to press the dough, form it into a rectangle, wrapping the plastic tightly around the dough in the process. Put the dough in the refrigerator to chill for at least an hour. (You can keep it in the refrigerator for a few days and up to a month in the freezer.)

Pop tart assembly

1 recipe pie dough

About 1 cup filling (frangipane, Nutella, strawberry or any fruit preserves, or filling of your choice)

1 egg, beaten

1. Take the chilled pie dough out of the refrigerator. Divide it in half, and put both portions on a floured work surface.

2. Roll out the dough with a rolling pin into a rectangle until it measures 9 by 12 inches. Use a ruler to measure the sides and to keep them straight. As you roll out the dough to the right shape, press the ruler up against the dough to keep the sides and the angles true.

3. Using the ruler, divide the rectangle in half lengthwise, pressing the ruler down slightly so that you can see the lines. Divide each long rectangle in half, then in half again width-wise, so you have 8 rectangles of 3 inches by 4½ inches each. Do the same thing for the other piece of dough.

4. Using a pastry brush or a new paint brush, brush half of the squares with the beaten egg, making sure you get to the edges.

5. Spoon a heaping tablespoon of filling into the center of each brushed rectangle, spreading it out a little but making sure that there's at least one-half inch of dough around the edges that does not have filling on it. Gently lift a second rectangle of unbrushed pastry on top of the one with the filling on it, pressing down along the edges so that the two pieces of dough stick together.

5. Using a fork, press the tines around the edges of all the tarts (dip it into your jar of flour to keep it from sticking). Prick the tops of the tarts in neat rows, to let the steam escape during baking. Place the tarts on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Place the tarts in the freezer for half an hour while you heat your oven to 375 degrees.

6. Just before putting the tarts in the oven, brush the tops with some of the remaining egg wash. Bake the tarts on a rack in the middle of the oven until golden brown, 30 to 35 minutes. Cool the tarts on a rack.

Each pop tart with frangipane filling: 487 calories; 8 grams protein; 46 grams carbohydrates; 3 grams fiber; 31 grams fat; 16 grams saturated fat; 140 mg cholesterol; 16 grams sugar; 237 mg sodium.

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Frangipane filling for pop tarts

Total time: 5 minutes

Servings: Makes about 1 cup, or enough for 8 pop tarts

3/4 cup (about 7 ounces) almond paste (not marzipan)

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon almond extract

1 egg

2 tablespoons flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

In the bowl of a food processor, pulse the almond paste until it is crumbly. Add the butter, sugar, vanilla and almond extracts, egg, flour and salt, and continue to pulse until the mixture is combined and smooth. Cover tightly and refrigerate until needed. The filling will keep for up to 1 week.

Each 2 tablespoons filling: 164 calories; 3 grams protein; 18 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram fiber; 9 grams fat; 3 grams saturated fat; 34 mg cholesterol; 14 grams sugar; 83 mg sodium.

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