I’ve had an urge for a while now to create something fun and colorful; a baked good that my childhood self would have not simply approved of, but actually been giddy about. I wanted to re-create that experience of walking down the cereal aisle as a kid; it’s all very twisted, looking back on it now, but there is no doubt a psychology behind the cereal aisle that enthralls children. They recognize the friendly Flintstones on a box and go flying for the fruity or cocoa pebbles. I was that kid. Obviously, I’ve grown up; I’ve matured, and my taste buds have somewhat (very slightly) matured as well; I can eat stinky cheese and steamed broccoli, but I can also eat (i.e. I still find myself daydreaming about eating) rainbow-colored foods laced with sugar; I still have a soft spot for marshmallows and undercooked chocolate chip cookies, and those are facts that I have come to terms with. Slowly but surely, I am realizing that demonizing specific foods, let alone entire food groups, just doesn’t jive well with me. Some people might thrive off low-carb, keto diets, while others see vast improvements after diving into low-fat, plant-based eating, but I see an immediate, negative shift in my life when I box myself in with too many rules and labels. Is that an excuse to eat fruity pebbles by the boxful everyday? Undoubtedly, no. Not even close. But it does translate into a more relaxed attitude to eating, and, in turn, life, that melts away so much of the unnecessary stress and anxiety that used to accompany me to breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
This pop-tarts are a happy merging of both sides of me; the responsible, future-oriented, health-conscious, Meg, as well as the impulsive, indulgent, childish, Meg. Skip the icing all together if you don’t have as much of the latter in you. My mind has been blaring RHUBARB RHUBARB RHUBARB almost non-stop for the past week; it’s no surprise that it’s rhubarb season, and I couldn’t be happier. Rhubarb swooped in to satisfy my craving for bright pink food before I could resort to Red 40. I also got a little help from another dear and vibrant produce friend, BEETS, to color the frosting. I simply boiled some diced beet in a shallow pool of water until the water became noticeably red/magenta-colored. I then strained the beet chunks out, and gradually added little drops of the colored water to powdered sugar until I achieved a light, bubble-gum pink and a magenta pink. It was a whole lotta fun and I still feel a little high from the whirlwind that is homemade pop-tarts.
I’m not gonna even try to fib and say these are better than the real thing; they are different! Yes, they are better if you want something more fresh, natural, and wholegrain-tasting, but they are not ‘better’ than store-bought pop-tarts because they are anywhere equal (if not exceeding) in sweetness and artificial-galore. If you want something more like that, swap out the wholegrain flours for all-purpose, and maybe don’t go the rhubarb route; I’m a big tang fan and wanted a less-sweet filling alternative, but any berry jam would work as a lovely filling, especially if you have a sweet-tooth. In actuality though, I think cinnamon-sugar or chocolate/fudge/S’more make for the best pop-tart flavors. Those were my go-to’s as a kid and, for better or for worse, things haven’t changed! And, just like that, I think I’ve talked myself into round two of homemade pop-tarts…heh..
Makes 12 smallish pop-tarts
1/2 cup & 1 tbsp wholegrain spelt flour (or sub with white spelt flour)
1/2 cup & 1 tbsp whole wheat pastry flour
7 tbsps unsalted butter, cold and cubed
2 tsps brown rice syrup or honey
1-3 tbsps cold water
Pinch of salt
1 cup rhubarb, sliced into roughly 1/2-inch pieces
3 tbsps fine raw or granulated sugar
1 tsp chia seeds
Fill with ~1 cup of your favorite fruit preserve/jam!
3/4 cups powdered sugar
1-2 tsps concentrated beet water for color (or simply use a drop or two of your go-to pink/red food coloring)
1-2 tbsps milk or water, as needed for thinning the glaze
Note: my inspiration for this post came from Serious Eats’ “Taste Test Every Pop Tart” and the pastry recipe has been very loosely adapted from Stella Park’s (also @Serious Eats) classic pop-tart recipe!