When I was growing up my mother was very particular about the food products she brought into our home. Our breakfast cereals were basic things like Wheaties, Cheerios or Kix. It wasn’t until I was in college and was buying my own groceries that I ever tried things like Fruit Loops or Pop Tarts. While the experience was fun for the novelty of it all, or because these things never found their way into my childhood home, they ended up not being things I would purchase other than maybe once or twice a year.
After becoming a father I planned on being as discerning as my mother was and be diligent in the products I bought to feed my children. My objective was to make as much of the food my kids were to eat as possible and, for the most part, we have stuck to that mantra. Even when my son was at his pickiest I avoided the temptation to buy heavily processed foods for the sake of getting him to eat something.
Finally, as he continued to fall in the weight percentiles, I was at my breaking point and succumbed. I bought a box of pop tarts to see if I could get something passed his lips. Part of me was a little relieved when he really wasn’t into them, even though I had bought the expensive organic brand. In time his eating habits would get a little better and he began to put on weight without me needing to resort to buying processed food products that have too much sugar and too many -ates and -ides for our liking.
Fast forward to a few months ago when a new bakery opened up near our house. We’ve tried them out a few times after church services on Sunday to treat ourselves and take a break from cooking. One of the items they offer is a homemade pop tart with an assortment of filling options. Just to see how he would respond, we bought one for our son and he inhaled it so fast I’m not sure he actually tasted the thing.
After that experience he would ask us just about every time we passed the bakery if we could stop in for a pop tart. Considering we pass it every time we leave our neighborhood his requests were frequent. However, at $3.25 per pop tart, we explained to him that they were treats for special occasions, not every day.
Over the past few weeks our son has made some real headway in the potty training arena and I wanted to do something special for him to let him know how proud we were of him. At first I thought I’d go for a walk and take the kids to the bakery up the street and treat him to the homemade pop tarts he likes so much. Then, I began to think about how pricey one little pop tart was and how I’m pretty sure I could make them myself.
A little internet research, an hour and a package of puff pastry sheets later and I was on my way to giving my son a treat I knew he would enjoy. I filled some of my homemade pop tarts with apricot jam and the rest with a quick mix of brown sugar and cinnamon. Both flavors were a hit and the first batch was gone before I knew it.
These homemade pop tarts are also a great way to involve children in the kitchen. The second time I made a batch my son had a lot of fun dusting the puff pastry sheets with flour and using the rolling pin. I handled filling them up and giving them a light egg wash, while he was more than happy to polish them off as fast as he could get his little hands on them.
If you’re looking for a fun kitchen activity to do with your kids, this is definitely a great one. There aren’t a lot of ingredients to deal with and, since you’re making them yourself, you get to decide what goes into them. Whether it is your favorite jam, a sugar and spice mixture or even something on the savory side (say, ham and cheese) you are limited only by your, or your kids, imagination.
Homemade Pop Tarts
- 1 package puff pastry sheets
- Jam, jelly or filling of choice
- 1 egg, beaten with a splash of water
- 1 tablespoon coarse sugar, optional
- Thaw the puff pastry sheets for about an hour, then preheat your oven to 350 degrees
- When the sheets have fully thawed dust them lightly with flour and roll them out on a floured surface until they roughly double in size
- Cut the rolled out puff pastry sheets into your desired shape – squares, rectangles, etc.
- Arrange the bottom half of the puff pastry on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and add your filling (leaving at least half an inch around all edges)
- Brush the edges with the egg wash, then lay the top half of the puff pastry over the bottom half with the filling
- Using the tines of a fork press down around the edges to seal the pop tart
- Lightly brush egg wash over the top to aid in browning, then dust with the coarse sugar (if desired)
- Pop into the oven and cook for 10 to 12 minutes, depending on your oven, or until the pop tarts are a nice golden brown