It’s a busy Friday and my mom and I are in the kitchen, preparing for Shabbos. Various pots are bubbling on different stoves, both ovens are full. The countertops are packed with ingredients- half a lemon, herbs strewn everywhere, carrot peels making a mountain. It’s hot, although the windows are open, and I am ready for a break. I have roasted vegetables, prepared salads and barbecued a brisket. I grab a peach, juicy, cold, and am ready to leave.
No such luck. My mom calls my name as I’m walking out, gestures to a little bag on another counter corner. “We have some fruit that needs to be used. Have at it.”
In the bag, I find a few apricots that have been bruised and banged up, a couple of shiny red cherries with their stems still attached. What to make? There’s too little fruit for pie, or for an easy crumble. A wave of heat passes swiftly over the kitchen, combined with an almost instantaneous craving for this ice cream but a quick perusal of the fridge reveals we are out of heavy cream. My old standby, then, the trusty galette? Or… something a little more fun? Pop tarts! Because the air conditioner has finally, finally gone on, and I am suddenly in a pop tart kind of mood.
I wash and pit the fruit, cut it, macerate it. I am using vanilla, sugar, lemon for tartness, and whiskey because mmmm. The mixture gets syrupy and fragrant in a bowl as I roll out a pie dough I’ve had lingering in the fridge. It’s cold and pliable, surprisingly workable given the temperatures, but I move quickly.
I cut rectangles. Fill half with fruit, fold the rest over. Close the little package, lumpy with fruit in the middle, with the tines of a fork. Cut slits on the top, horizontal, to release steam. I like how these look! Like childhood. Like fun times are ahead. I brush them with egg, sprinkle them sugar and slide them into the freezer for a little last minute fortification before they head to the oven.
When they are in the oven, I watch them bubble and rise, smell the juices collecting and thickening on the parchment. Here, in the middle of this hot kitchen, in the very center of it, magic is happening.
When the pop tarts are ready, I gild the lily by drizzling them with icing. They hit the hot pastries and harden instantly, creating a mouthful of texture and flavor.
I bite into one while it is still hot, and it is perfect: flaky, crunchy, sweet, tart, juicy. My mom agrees and now that I’ve satisfied everyone’s sweet tooth, I am allowed to leave the kitchen. I walk out happy, tired, pop tart in hand.
Yields: 8 pop tarts
Why I love this recipe: cherries and apricots make a perfectly sweet/tart combination and combine in my favorite, uber flaky pie dough for these glazed pop tarts. Whiskey adds a little extra flavor, making these an updated twist on a kid classic.
Variation: substitute strawberries and rhubarb for the apricots and cherries, or blackberries and peaches.
For the pie dough:
- 1 cup + 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
- 1/2 stick frozen butter
- 1/2 stick cold butter
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup ice cold water
For the boozy cherry apricot filling:
- 4 fresh, ripe apricots, washed and thinly sliced
- 3/4 cup washed pitted sweet cherries
- 3 tablespoons vanilla sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons whiskey
- juice of 1/2 a lemon
- healthy pinch of salt
- 2 tablespoons tapioca starch
For the egg wash + icing:
- 1 egg yolk, mixed with two tablespoons water, for egg wash
- turbinado sugar, for sprinkling
- 6 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar
- 1 tablespoon milk
- To make the crust, combine the flour, sugar and salt in a bowl. Use your fingers to cut in the stick of cold butter until it is the size of peas. Then cut in the frozen butter, leaving it in bigger, visible pieces, the size of lima beans.
- Add the apple cider vinegar to the water and make a well in the center of the flour and butter mixture. Using a wooden spoon, mix the water into the flour until just combined.
- If the dough seems dry, add more water a teaspoon at a time. Press the dough together, folding it over itself a few times, flattening it out and then folding again. Form it into a square and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill the dough for 1-2 hours in the fridge.
- Remove your dough from the fridge. On a lightly floured surface, flour the disk of dough and roll it out, in the square shape. Using a knife or pastry cutter, cut a horizontal line down the middle of the square. You will now have two rectangles of pie dough.
- Divide each rectangle into four equal rectangles, using a knife or pastry cutter. Gently transfer each piece of dough to a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Transfer to the fridge so the dough stays chilled while you prepare the filling.
- Preheat the oven to 425° degrees. Make the filling: combine all the ingredients. Remove the pie dough rectangles from the fridge. Fill half of each rectangle with the fruit mixture, leaving a little room around the border.
- Fold down the empty top half of dough over the filled part and seal the sides by pressing with a fork.
- Brush each pop tart with the egg yolk and sprinkle liberally with turbinado sugar. Cut three slits in the top of each pop tart. Transfer to freezer and chill for 15 minutes.
- Bake for around 20 minutes. Lower the oven temperature to 400° for another ten minutes.
- Remove the pop tarts from the oven when they are deeply browned and bubbling. Combine the confectioner’s sugar with the milk and using a spoon, drizzle over each pop tart while still hot. Serve while warm and flaky!