They say that to keep your marriage fresh, you’ve got to keep it surprising every now and then. I’m not sure it’s what “they” had in mind, but it was most definitely a surprise when my husband of nearly 15 years informed me he’d never had a packaged Pop-Tart.
Of course Dan has eaten plenty of my homemade pop tarts over the years, but never a Pop-Tart fresh out of the crinkly foil wrapper? Not even at a friend’s house or as part of a lunchroom trade? How did he hold out for so long?
This bombshell was dropped on me while we were cruising the supermarket aisles a few weeks ago and I was seduced by the latest version to hit store shelves: the Pretzel Pop-Tart.
Obviously we had to bring a box home, try them out, and see how he liked them.
And then replicate them with real, homemade, buttery pie crusts, because I’m nothing if not up for the challenge of making a pretzel pop tart.
The packaged pretzel versions come in two filling options: chocolate and cinnamon sugar. For my homemade version, I decided to switch it up with both Nutella and classic jam filling and see how it went.
(Spoiler: raspberry jam plus pretzel pastry equals heaven!)
As with my homemade whole wheat pretzel crackers, the difficulty in pretzel-ifying a thin and flaky pastry is that you can’t poach it in alkaline liquid.
And that’s the key to making a pretzel: coating it in a solution of baked soda (a more concentrated version of baking soda and much easier to work with than lye) to give the crust that signature sheen and slightly metallic taste.
In this case, instead of using a silicone basting brush to apply the liquid to each pop tart, I used a travel-sized spray bottle to spritz the tarts throughout the baking process, building up layers of flavor.
No matter if you’re kind of person who likes your pop tarts all warmed up or if you prefer to snack on them at room temperature, these pretzel pop tarts will make your day either way.
The flaky crust and sweet filling run rings around the packaged kind, as they should.
And that’s Dan’s verdict too: the store-bought kind were just fine, but he’ll stick with homemade any time I give him the chance.
(He’s also put in a request for more homemade donuts soon, but that’s something we’ll have to discuss.)
- 1 recipe perfect pie crust
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 tablespoon baked soda or baking soda
- 1 teaspoon dark brown sugar
Filling and Assembly
- 1 egg + 1 tablespoon water for egg wash
- 9 tablespoons Nutella, chocolate peanut butter, and/or fruit jam
Make the crust:
- Make the dough according to recipe instructions.
- But—instead of dividing the dough into 2 discs, shape the 2 pieces into rectangles instead and wrap in plastic wrap.
- Refrigerate for at least 1 hour or overnight.
Make the pretzel liquid:
- Whisk the water, baked soda, and brown sugar together in a very small saucepan.
- Heat over medium heat just until the water is warm enough to dissolve the soda and sugar.
- Remove from the heat and cool to room temperature.
- Carefully pour the liquid into a small spray bottle.
Assemble and bake the pop tarts:
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone liners.
- On a lightly floured surface, roll 1 piece of pie dough into a 10x12-inch rectangle.
- Use a pastry or pizza cutter and a ruler to slice the dough into 9 3x4-inch pieces.
- Transfer each piece to one of the prepared baking sheets.
- Brush the edges of each piece with the egg wash.
- Scoop filling onto each piece. For Nutella and thick spreads, use 1 tablespoon filling. For thinner, more watery fruit jams, start with 2 teaspoons and only add an additional teaspoon if no liquid leaks from the jam.
- Roll the remaining piece of dough as you did the first, cutting it into 9 more pieces.
- Place each of these on top of the ones on the baking sheet to cover the filling, then seal the edges closed by pressing with the tines of a fork.
- Poke the top crust a few times with the fork to vent.
- Spritz the pop tarts with the pretzel liquid.
- Bake for 15 minutes, spritzing with liquid every 5 minutes to create a deep brown crust.
- Serve immediately or at room temperature.
To make 2 cups of baked soda, preheat the oven to 250 degrees F and line a rimmed baking sheet with a very large piece of foil, folding the foil’s edges up and over to create “sides” that prevent the baking soda from sliding onto the baking sheet itself.
Pour a 1-pound box of baking soda onto the foil and spread in an even layer.
Bake for about an hour, until the baking soda has dried slightly and reduced in weight; it’ll look more powdery.
Allow to cool completely on the baking sheet. Store in a Mason jar or other nonreactive container with a tight-fitting lid for up to a year.
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