Tuesday January 25, 2011

Brave (Pop) Tarts so hot they're cool

I used to love Pop Tarts. Particularly, Frosted Strawberry.

I probably hadn’t had one since high school. But in my mind, I could taste the crumbly almost shortbread-like crust, the tart hint of strawberry filling, the pure sweetness of the icing and the nibby texture of those strangely shaped sprinkles.

As a kid, I loved taking a bite right off the corner, just like they did in the commercial.

I never magically shucked the bonds of physical existence to morph into a Pop Art painting or anything but, you know, I enjoyed them.

The myriad food bloggers that blogged before me have already tackled Pop-Tarts. A simple search for “Pop Tarts” on FoodGawker and TasteSpotting turns up dozens of Pop-Tart related posts.

But, with all due respect to you sweet, wonderful, creative bloggers out there: Have you people even seen a Pop-Tart before?!?

Go ahead, take a look at those flaky and fruit filled results. The photos seem to come from an alternate universe where Pop-Tart simply means “delicious rectangular pastry.”

Since when do Pop-Tarts have ultra flaky, golden brown pastry?! Luscious fruit filling oozing from their insides? High class flavors rivaling the offerings of the trendiest pastry shop? Edges adorably crimped with a fork?

C’mon guys.

I love you all. Frankly, your creations have out-classed Pop-Tarts by a few million light years with unparalleled deliciocity. They look splendid. Elegant. Flaky. Filled with jammy goodness.

In short: nothing even remotely like Pop-Tarts.

One could never accuse the Pop-Tart of having anything to do with flaky or jammy goodness. Toaster Strudels, maybe. But Pop-Tarts’ dry fruit filling makes a Fruit Roll Up seem like a well formed smear of Bonne Maman.

As a childhood Pop-Tart enthusiast, I longed to make my own. Not, as the aforementioned bakers did, by transforming Pop-Tarts into something more sophisticated. And not by slavishly re-creating the sad snack my adult palate knows the Pop-Tart to be: a mealy textured, anemic pastry containing a micron of fruit and a shamefully thin layer of frosting.

Rather, I wanted to recreate the Pop-Tart as it existed in my mind. As the fun, fruit filled snack I enjoyed as a kid.

One with that half-pie-half-cookie like crust. A thick, homogeneous paste of “real fruit.” With hard, crusty icing covered over with psychedelic sprinkles. An exterior that would scream, “I ♥ the 80s and/or possibly the 90s!” One that looked as if it came straight out of a box in the pantry.

Something with the taste of real fruit, real hot hot hot.

Brave Tarts frosted strawberry

So cool they’re hot, so hot . . . they’re cool.

In the grand scheme of things, I had the easy job: re-creating that firm, entirely flakeless crust, filling it with something not jam, and capping it off with a layer of icing and a scattering of rainbow sprinkles. Pretty tame stuff.

Rosco, on the other hand, had to capture not just the way a Pop-Tart looks, but the way it looks in a commercial that was shot in the 80s. But he couldn’t use a Pop-Tart, of course, he had to use a few actual, made-from-scratch “Pop Tarts.” He figured shooting my retrotastic Pop Tarts on a plate, or at the breakfast table, wouldn’t cut it. He wanted something with zoom.

So while I spent my time experimenting with Pop-Tart filling, Rosco worked on ways to suspend Pop-Tarts from copper piping, time his exposures to capture the glow of the toaster, and otherwise cram as much cheese into one photo as possible.

From that point, my brother stepped in to give it the ol’ razzle dazzle.

He lives in Hollywood, and someday in the not too distant future, he’s gonna be crazy famous. I’m not just saying that as a sister, but because he’s working it. He has famous people’s names on speed dial. He works on Big Projects that I Can’t Talk About. Just for fun, he runs around the Warner movie lot. (No, really!) But somehow, for me, he found the time to engage in the idle pursuit of childhood nostalgia.

He turned his PhotoShop skills to Rosco’s photo and conjured up the best fake box of food I have ever seen.

But maybe I’m biased. Here’s the original image.

BraveTart homemade Pop-Tart Pop Tarts

So there you have it. One of a hundred posts out there on homemade Pop Tarts. I’d like to think we set ourselves apart by the complete lack of flaky pastries, elegance, and thoughtfully laid tablescapes.

My recipe won’t yield fancy, high end “Pop Tarts” and it certainly won’t serve as a vehicle to showcase your fabulous homemade jam. The dough won’t double for a pie crust or make a good turnover.

It will, however, taste like the Pop-Tarts you remember, if not the Pop-Tarts currently on the market. A recipe for those, like me, who long to recreate authentic Kellogg’s Pop Tarts, filled with thick fruit paste, topped with crisp icing, and jazzed up with an array of rainbow sprinkles.

old fashioned pop tarts box

For those in the Lexington area, check in with Wine + Market, I try to deliver Pop Tarts to them at least once a week. I want to find a way to turn a mini Pop Tart into some kinda plated dessert for Table 310, perhaps with a coffee custard? What did you have alongside your Pop Tart, milk?

And what were your Pop-Tart traditions, toasted or not toasted? Frosted or unfrosted? What was your favorite Pop-Tart flavor, and what box was most iconic to you?

Enjoy this recipe for Pop Tarts with dried fruit filling and homemade rainbow sprinkles!

posted byStellaand filed under:  Fruit  Gluten Free  Sideshow Photos  Tarts

45 comments and counting

Jan 25, 2011 ·  9:09 PM

OMG those look Amazing!!! Your brother is a genius btw! I can’t believe he made that photo look like an actual ‘pop tart’ box!!

 · Mishi · 

Jan 25, 2011 ·  9:10 PM

This is great, Stella! That toaster/poptart picture is amAzing.

Also- the poptarts from my childhood were the unfrosted, cinnamon/brown sugar poptarts… toasted in a toaster oven. That is only flavor I ever ate, and I have no idea why. I’m sure your version is better than the reality.

 · Marian  · 

Jan 25, 2011 ·  9:20 PM

I want to try these so bad! Cinnamon sugar and Cherry were always my fave.

 · Tiffany @ Conor & Bella · http://conorbella.wordpress.com

Jan 25, 2011 · 10:15 PM

Cinnamon/Brown Sugar must have been crazy popular! That’s what everyone says! I didn’t even know there were other Pop Tarts flavors besides Strawberry until I was like 17. I think we bought cherry once by mistake, and it really threw me for a loop!


Jan 25, 2011 · 10:17 PM

I LOVE this post just as much as I thought I would

Rosco’s photo and your brother’s subsequent rendition of the box are both spot-on. Incredible work and an amazing recipe. Thanks again for sharing – I can’t wait to post!

 · Kaitlin · http://whisk-kid.blogspot.com

Jan 25, 2011 · 10:46 PM

I still say you are a Brave Little Toaster patissiere

 · deadly · 

Jan 26, 2011 · 12:06 AM

Oh Stella! You’ve done it again talented lady. I’m one of the odd ones out there who ate the blueberry ones with/without frosting. When they started coming out with flavors like “strawberry milkshake” I had to shudder.

p.s. If you look at the ingredients on the box of almost any flavor of Pop Tart you will find the ingredient dried apples. This is because Kellogs has never managed to launch a successful Appley Pop Tart and needed to do something with the bajillion tons of dried apples lying around the processing center.

 · Carrie · 

Jan 26, 2011 ·  8:17 AM

SO impressive!!! You and your brother make a fabulous team!!!

 · Liz · http://Thatskinnychickcanbake.blogspot.com

Jan 26, 2011 · 10:41 AM

I love all of this!! Whit did do an amazing job too, go Whit!

 · Mousey · 

Jan 26, 2011 ·  1:37 PM

I Loved!!!!! me the fruit ones. I’m pretty sure we had Pop Tarts and TV nights our first year of CIA. But I have always fantasized about ones filled with tasty lemon or lime curd. Also never been a sprinkles fan. It looks great Stella! Now if only you could do a road trip food thing. Fried Pies, Honey buns, Gummy foods.

 · Kelly · 

Jan 26, 2011 ·  2:01 PM

Wonderful post….we will not speak of my unnatural love for pop tarts.

 · briarrose · http://flourdusted.blogspot.com/

Jan 26, 2011 · 11:47 PM

I loved pop tarts too! Why the heck do they have to be so bad for you? Urg! SUPER awesome art by the way!!!

 · Tiffany · http://www.comowater.com

Jan 27, 2011 · 12:42 AM

i’ve never eaten a pop tart, but look forward to trying one of yours next time i’m in KY! i love the ‘zoom’ in the picture!!!

 · mallowsota · 

Jan 27, 2011 ·  9:59 AM

I LOVE this post! Lucy and I are going to have to venture over to Wine + Market after we drop Joey off at work.

I used to have an addiction to the chocolate pop-tarts with vanilla inside and vanilla icing followed by my second favorite, strawberry!

 · SweetLucy · 

Jan 27, 2011 ·  5:31 PM

Haha I love the posters! They really bring me back to the 90s. I too still remember my love for the taste and texture of the crust!

 · Jessica · http://www.jessicasdinnerparty.com

Jan 27, 2011 ·  8:19 PM

Best post I have read today! Fantastic…made me smile the whole time I was reading it.

 · ceecee · http://withinthekitchen.blogspot.com

Jan 28, 2011 ·  5:05 AM

Lexington, KY?! Why, oh why didn’t I know about this back when I was there in December? I now want some of your Brave Tarts!

My favorite were cherry, untoasted. Mmm… I ate the crusts first, and then ate the middle. Yummy!

 · Christine · http://bigpinkcookie.com

Jan 28, 2011 ·  6:53 PM

We were never allowed poptarts growing up. Sleepovers at certain friend’s houses were awesome because sometimes we would eat them for breakfast, a prefect sugar fueled start to the day.

 · Dana · http://thefunkykitchen.com

Jan 28, 2011 ·  9:20 PM

So many people I know weren’t allowed to have Pop Tarts! Even in the 80s, I guess Kellogg couldn’t hide their complete lack of nutrition (“real fruit” notwithstanding). I ate a real Pop Tart recently, we bought a box to scope out the packaging and to get the exact measurements of the pastry, and it was super gross. Made me sad.


Jan 28, 2011 · 10:51 PM

You are superbly talented, glad that i found your blog today.

 · Spicyana · http://arcthomas.blogspot.com/

Jan 29, 2011 · 12:28 AM

Now those are some authentic-looking Pop Tarts!

Also, I love the Brave Tart branding. I’d so buy that.

 · Marie · http://www.theknead4speed.com

Jan 30, 2011 ·  2:54 PM

i love your loyalty the true heart of a poptart! i have many memories of them myself that i hope to bring back soon with a few batches of homemade whipped up. the pictures!!! are. mindblowing!!! i’m so completely impressed and speechless!! the poptarts look gorgeous and the pics are perfect! great, great job!

 · futurechef · http://adventuresofafuturechef.blogspot.com

Jan 31, 2011 · 10:18 PM

I love Pop Tarts for those exact same reasons. And Frosted Strawberry is my favorite flavor. Okay, I really have to try out your recipe. Oh, and homemade sprinkles?!? I definitely need to make these. Thanks for sharing!

 · Susan · http://diamondsfordessert.blogspot.com

Feb 02, 2011 · 10:24 PM

Susan, yay Frosted Strawberry!!! I hope you make them, you have such a crazy knack for adorable, I would love to see how yours turn out. Thanks for stopping by!


Feb 08, 2011 ·  8:19 PM

Frosted Strawberry is the best! I can’t wait to try these out. I wasn’t allowed to have them either but would eat them on road trips or at friends’ houses. I too was sad that after not eating them, they’re kind of gross… These won’t be though!

 · julie Jonak · http://www.juliejonak.com

Feb 17, 2011 ·  3:29 AM

Love the graphics, and I’m impressed by the lengths you went to recreate the original. What’s your next challenge? Chocolate chip cookies that taste exactly like Chips Ahoy?

 · brhau · http://www.youfedababychili.com/

May 22, 2011 ·  2:25 AM

Now this brought a huge smile to my face! I loved Pop Tarts especially the frosted brown sugar and frosted chocolate ones. I was also a big fan of the strawberry frosted ones. My mom would send me a big care package a few times a year when I was in college and it always included lots of Pop Tarts. Can’t wait to try your recipe!!

 · Beth P. · 

May 22, 2011 · 10:45 AM

Beth, I hear from so many fans of the brown sugar kind, but I never tried them, my heart belonged to strawberries alone. Your mom sounds awesome too, what a great care package! Good luck Pop Tarting!


May 26, 2011 ·  4:00 AM

Best post I have read today! Fantastic…made me smile the whole time I was reading it.

 · alma · http://www.z4site.com

May 26, 2011 ·  5:10 PM

Aw, thanks Alma! I love me some Pop Tarts.


Jun 01, 2011 ·  6:56 PM

omg – I said the EXACT same thing on Twitter recently! Those little pastries are NOT Pop Tarts…more like Toaster Struedels. So glad someone else out there is thinking like me I hope to make your version soon.

 · megly · http://thecoziness.wordpress.com

Jun 02, 2011 · 10:50 AM

@megly, I know, right?! Apparently you can call anything a Pop Tart these days. Sheesh. Keep me posted if you ever make them!


Jun 17, 2011 · 11:08 PM

I’m sold! I’ve been looking at pop tarts for a while cuz m’kids luv’em but somewhere in the back of mind a little voice keeps telling me…the kids aren’t going to like what your thinkin’ of making because they are too fancy. I can’t wait to put this in front of them. Do you have a brown sugar and maple version?

 · Apron Appeal · http://apronappeal.com

Jun 18, 2011 ·  1:43 PM

@Apron Appeal, you know everyone keeps asking for a brown sugar cinnamon or brown sugar maple version. I’ve never tasted that one before, but clearly, I need to put it on my to-do list! I hope you get a chance to make these, everyone always freaks out because of how amazingly “real” they look. I haven’t made any at work for a while now, and people are rioting.


Aug 31, 2011 ·  4:17 PM

Just discovered your blog. I was already enjoying your prose, as you really have a way with words (brutal brittle?!! I’m still chuckling). But this photo/fake 80s food box just knocked me over. Rosco, your brother and you are a fantastic team.

 · Astrid · http://lacerise.blogspot.com

Aug 31, 2011 ·  5:31 PM

@Astrid, aw, thanks so much! We all had a wonderful time making these pictures. Thanks so much for your sweet comment.


Nov 13, 2011 · 10:31 PM

I ran into this page indirectly from a reference from http://www.instructables.com/id/DIY-Sprinkles/ referring to BraveTart. I would love some of these Pop Tarts. Hope to make someday maybe.

 · StarDesignLady · http://www.zazzle.com/StarDesignLady*

Nov 14, 2011 · 10:55 AM

@StarDesignLady, thanks for finding me, lack of linkage not withstanding. Hope you get a chance to whip up some Pop Tarts, they are scary accurate!


Feb 05, 2012 ·  9:10 AM

I just found this site and love it. For the Pop-Tarts, got to try it! As a kid my mom would feed us a hot toasted pop tart with ice-cream on top for breakfast! What a treat for a kid! and now on occasion my son get the same!

 · koji · 

Feb 05, 2012 · 11:20 AM

@koji, Pop-Tarts ala mode?!? Your mom’s a saint!! Hope you can make up a batch for your son sometime soon.


Mar 21, 2012 ·  4:46 PM

These look delicious! I can’t wait to try them! Just last week a friend introduced me to how good Pop-Tarts taste when frozen. I’ve also made ice-cream sandwiches using Pop-Tarts, with fantastic results! The pinnacle of which was battering and deep-frying the ice-cream sandwich. I just need to freeze them harder next time so I don’t lose as much ice-cream to the fryer…

 · Thallanor · 

Mar 22, 2012 · 10:56 AM

@Thallanor, you are a champ! Frozen, fried and sandwiched?! It’s like all the Pop-Tarts food groups. Yes, you clearly need to convert this process to 100% homemade. Keep me posted!!


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