As a kid in the 80s and early 90s, I had the pleasure of being sold a variety of junk food brands on TV.
From Cheetos to Fruity Pebbles to Chips Ahoy, I was a food conglomerate’s dream. I would spend my Saturday mornings watching “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” “My Little Pony” and “Scooby Doo, Where Are You!” all the while being inundated with colorful commercials, encouraging me to persuade my mom to buy the latest and coolest junk food snack, cereal and cookies, among other things.
And it worked.
One of my favorite childhood indulgences was Pop-Tarts — a shelf-stable, cookie/pie-like creation filled with sugary goodness and available with or without sugary icing.
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Even better was the fact I could “prepare” it myself by popping it into the toaster for a minute or so, and then enjoy it in all its molten deliciousness.
Today, I wouldn’t even consider feeding my son a Pop-Tart.They’re brimming with sodium, sugar and preservatives.
The idea of creating my own Pop Tart-esque treat came one afternoon when a friend and I were laughing about some of the terrible things our parents let us eat.
I decided to create a somewhat healthier and cleaner version of my childhood favorite to share with my son.
Sugared Hand Tarts
Makes 8 to 10 individual tarts
1 recipe of homemade pie dough or one 14-ounce box of store-bought pie dough mix (regular or whole wheat)
Flour for rolling
1/2 cup of your favorite preserves
1/4 cup water
Colorful sugar sprinkles
Preheat an oven to 425 degrees. Make pie dough according to recipe, and allow it to chill for an hour.
Once dough is chilled, roll it into a large rectangle about 1/8 inch thick on a floured surface. Trim off the uneven edges to create a large, imperfect rectangle.
Using a pizza cutter, cut 3-by-5-inch rectangles out of the dough. You should get about 16-20 rectangles. Try to keep them as close in size as possible. For best results, use a ruler.
Place 1 tablespoon of preserves in the center of half of the small rectangles. Spread the preserves out slightly, while still leaving at least a 1/4 inch of border to seal the tarts closed later.
Thoroughly combine the egg and water in a small bowl to create an egg wash. Using a pastry brush, or your finger, brush the border of each preserve-filled rectangle lightly with egg wash.
Place another dough piece on top to create the tart. Lightly press the edges with your finger to seal the preserves inside the dough. Once all the tarts are sealed, use a pastry cutter to crimp and trim the edges.
Coat a baking sheet with nonstick spray. Arrange the tarts on the baking sheet and brush the tops of each tart lightly with more egg wash. Generously shake colored sugar sprinkles over the top of each tart.
Bake the tarts for 10 minutes or until the edges begin to lightly brown. Immediately transfer the tarts to a cooling rack. Allow the tarts to cool slightly before serving because the filling will be very hot. Baked and cooled tarts can be frozen for as long as one month. To reheat, pop them into the toaster and enjoy.
Jessica James is a millennial mom and professional chef whose passion is inspiring families to cook and spend quality time together in the kitchen.