Happy new year! If you’ve been reading A Little Saffron for some time, you likely know I am a correspondent for the Taste section of the Tampa Bay Times. I’m kicking off 2017 with a new column for the section called Everyday Entertaining, which is a natural next step for the column I wrote for four years: In Our Kitchen. Everyday Entertaining focuses a bit more on how I cook now at home, which has changed quite a bit in the last several years. It’ll be a monthly column you can expect the first Wednesday of each month.
I’ll also continue to write cookbook reviews; you can expect those in the Times every third Wednesday of the month. Read my latest cookbook review on How to Celebrate Everything! It’s a cookbook that’s very much in the spirit of this new column.
For the first installment of Everyday Entertaining, we’re starting with Puff Pastry Pop Tarts! It’s a fun and easy treat to make at home that was inspired by—what else?—Gilmore Girls.
Homemade Pop Tarts can be filled with nearly anything you can dream up, but Nutella is a solid go-to filling. Enjoy! And let me know what you think of the new column or anything you’d like to see covered under the topic of entertaining hungry guests at home.
Puff Pastry Pop-Tarts
These slightly grown-up versions of Pop-Tarts are infinitely adaptable and easy to make. Using storebought puff pastry means these are always available as a fun treat. The tarts can take a sweet or savory route to suit the occasion or mood. The basic instructions are below, followed by ideas for fillings. Skip the recipe’s sweet glaze and sprinkles if you use a more savory filling.
2 sheets puff pastry, thawed
½ cup chocolate-hazelnut spread, like Nutella, or other filling (see below)
1 egg, beaten
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons half-and-half or milk
Sprinkles or crushed cookies, for garnish (optional)
Heat oven to 400°F.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Gently roll out puff pastry over the parchment. Use a knife to gently create a grid with 9 even squares. Spread 2 teaspoons filling in the center of each square, leaving about a ¾-inch border all around. (You could use 3 teaspoons of filling, but resist the temptation to add more as over-stuffing will cause Pop-Tarts to split in the oven.)
Lay the second sheet of puff pastry on top of the other one, gently pressing down the edges (make sure to press between the lumps of filling as well). Use a knife to cut into 9 rectangles.
Gently separate the tarts and space them out evenly on the baking sheet. If at any time the dough gets too soft to work with, pop it in the freezer or the fridge for a few minutes and allow it to firm up slightly.
Use the tines of a fork to gently press the edges all around each square. Add 1 teaspoon water to the beaten egg and mix thoroughly to combine in a small bowl.
Brush the egg wash lightly onto each tart; this will help them turn golden brown.
Place sheet pan in center of oven and bake until golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer tarts to a wire rack and allow to cool completely.
Meanwhile, make a glaze by mixing the powdered sugar and half-and-half. (If too thick, add a bit more half-and-half. If too thin, add a bit more sugar.)
Drizzle glaze over the cooled tarts. Garnish with sprinkles or crushed cookies, if using.
Note: Other ideas for filling the tarts: Marshmallow fluff and 1-inch squares of chocolate (don’t use chips), with a garnish of crushed graham crackers; Tomato jam and goat cheese, garnished with fresh thyme; Apricot or raspberry jam and cream cheese; Leftover pulled pork and barbecue sauce.