Strawberry Cream Cheese Pop Tarts

Strawberry Cream Cheese Pop Tarts

Over the years, I've become a connoisseur of tinfoil wrapped pastries. I use the term pastries lightly; anything that comes packaged to last through Armageddon doesn't quite pass my personal criteria as a true pastry. However, as any red blooded American child could tell you, despite the fact that pop tarts have an expiration date that lasts into the next year, they are delicious. Sinfully.

Pop tarts, if you haven't had the privilege of enjoying one for yourself, are filled pastries drizzled with frosting and sprinkles that are served for breakfast.

Yes, breakfast. They have seven essential vitamins and minerals, after all.

Strawberry Cream Cheese Pop Tarts

As a child, I was torn between the chocolate fudge and s'mores flavors, constantly changing my opinion over which reigned supreme. Pop tarts were a rarity in my house, considered a "special treat" instead of standard fare. My mother would buy pop tarts for afternoon snacks (never breakfast) and we were allowed only one in each sitting. Since pop tarts come packaged in twos, this became a big deal.

Would the remaining pop tart be eaten before it went stale?

(If anyone can identify with the fear of ending up with a stale pop tart, it's Paula Poundstone).

Strawberry Cream Cheese Pop Tarts Strawberry Cream Cheese Pop Tarts

When I stumbled across the Michael Pollan quote above, I've truly tried to take it to heart. While I don't always eat "healthy," I try to eat real. Real foods in real cooking and real baking, with no ingredients floating around that I can't pronounce. Though this Strawberry Cream Cheese Pop Tart wouldn't fall under the definition of healthy, it's made with sound ingredients and fresh fruit which places it above tinfoil wrapped pastries in my book.

They are a treat my great-grandmother would have made and (if the genes she's passed down to me are any indication) enjoyed them immensely.

Strawberry Cream Cheese Pop Tarts

Strawberry Cream Cheese Pop Tarts are flaky, fruity hand pies. Two layers of pie crust (with a hint of oatmeal for a rustic touch) sandwich a thick spread of cream cheese and sweet, fresh strawberries. These little pies are relatively simple to make, but assembling them does take some time. These make for a lovely addition to special breakfasts or summer picnics when you'd like a less messy pie.

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Strawberry Cream Cheese Pop Tarts

Yields 5-6 pastries

Pie Crust
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup old-fashioned oats
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) cold butter, cubed
1/4 cup cold water

In a food processor, pulse together flour, oats, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Blend in the cubed butter until mixture looks like coarse sand. Mix in 1/4 cup cold water to bring dough together. If needed, add more ice water by the tablespoon until the dough holds together when squeezed.

If a food processor is not available, whisk together the flour, oats, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Add the chilled, cubed butter and, using a pastry blender, blend together the butter and flour until it resembles coarse sand. Alternatively, you can use your hands and squeeze the cubed butter between your fingertips until it resembles a coarse sand (this method will take 5-10 minutes, but it is effective). Add 1/4 cup of ice water and mix together the dough with your hands until it holds together when squeezed.

Form dough into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate at least 30 minutes before using.

Strawberry Cream Cheese Filling
1/2 pint (1 cup) strawberries, hulled and sliced thinly
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
2-3 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1 egg yolk

In a small bowl, mix together the strawberries and sugar. Allow to sit and macerate for 10-15 minutes before using.

To Assemble
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C).

Roll out dough 1/4-inch thick. Cut into 3x4-inch rectangles, continuing to roll out until there are 10-12 rectangles. Divide the rectangles into groups of 2; these will be the tops and bottoms of the pop tarts. Cover the bottom with a heavy spread of cream cheese, leaving a 1/2-inch border on all edges. Place strawberries on top until evenly covered. Cover with the remaining pie crust rectangle and, using a fork, press all edges together. Stab a few holes in the top with a knife to release steam. Continue the process for the rest of the pop tarts.

In a small bowl, mix together the egg yolk with 1 teaspoon water. Place pop tarts on a baking sheet and, using a pastry brush, brush the egg yolk on top of the pop tarts.

Bake for 35-45 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from oven, allow to cool for 10-15 minutes.

Pop tarts are best eaten the day they are made, served warm or at room temperature.