“Noooo! NooOOOo!!” I shrieked to myself.
Take a little trip with me. It’s c. 2004, and I’m standing at the vending machine in my high school dining hall in my gray New Balance tennis shoes and my gray hoodie. Really, I’m hunching, I guess I should say, because as I reached down to get my Cheez-Its and Welch’s Fruit Snacks out of the machine, my low-slung black messenger bag slid down right over my back of my legs and trapped me its clutches.
That’s right. There I am in the throes of high school, the deafening roar of thousands (for real – overcrowding, yo) of my way cooler peers feasting and sitting at cool tables behind me, the bleached out smell coming off the cold floor, the streptococcus teeming on the vending machine buttons, and I am trapped in the strap of my messenger bag for all to see.
Do you know what I’m talking about? I mean that the strap, which I was wearing crossbody-style, had slid right down as I bent over, so that the embellished pockets of my acid-washed jeans are sticking straight into the air, and my face is crushed into my knees.
I had to let the bag drop to the floor around me so I get step out of it and scurry away in horror.
And yes, people saw, because I heard about it later. If only that were the most embarrassing thing that happened to me even in the lunch hall in high school, how different life would be.
But let’s get back to the real stars of this story, the Cheez-Its and Welch’s Fruit Snacks. If any parents are reading this, I am here to tell you that even kids who eat only refined sugars and enriched, bleached flour until age 18 can grow strong and learn to love things like dark leafy greens.
I had a rotation for the brokest of days: Cheez-Its and Welch’s Fruit Snacks was one day, another day (for when I beat the lines) was a hot (microwaved, I’m sure) egg roll from the a la carte line and two freakish but addicting chocolate chip cookies from the warming drawer, another option was a packet of two iced strawberry pop tarts from, yet again, the vending machine.
I don’t know what it is about pop tarts. They are so addicting, and yet, even as a high school student, I knew they weren’t good for you. And everyone has their favorite part. I was in it for the starchy, hardened edges. Others are in it for the bite in the very center.
Needless to say, I don’t let myself walk by the pop tart section in the grocery store these days, but I couldn’t help myself when the idea of pumpkin pop tarts dawned on me. I know it’s copyright infringement to name something “pop tart” that isn’t produced by the Pop Tart company, but honestly, why haven’t they done this yet? Think of the crazed crowds of pumpkin lovers who would suddenly deem Pop Tarts worthy of their time? They would sell out like Twinkies when they “went out of business.”
Now you tell me: what embarrassing thing happened to you in the lunch room? And what were you eating?
These “pop tarts” (see how I keep doing that, copyright enforcers?) totally satisfy my latent pop tart cravings. The edges are crispy and yet dense and crumbly, and the icing is perfectly sugary – crisp on top and slightly gooey underneath. And the filling! Pumpkin pie heaven for those of us who like pumpkin, but maybe not by the soup bowl.
Pumpkin Spice Pop Tarts
Makes 6 large pastries
Recipe notes: For the dough, I used this recipe from Food52 that is indeed perfect. Also, this makes a little extra filling, but it makes a suuuper delicious topping for toast if you heat it on the stove or in the microwave for a few minutes. This is the same glaze I used for this cake, and it’s unstoppable.
Special tools: food processor, 4-inch round cookie/biscuit cutter
2 ¼ cups all purpose flour
½ cup coconut oil (in solid but not rock hard state)
1 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
⅓ – ½ cup ice water
1 cup pumpkin purée
¼ cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon cornstarch
3 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 cup powdered sugar
¼ cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon coconut oil
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Up to 2 teaspoons ice water, a little at a time
1. Preheat the oven to 375 F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Make the crust: In a food processor, pulse flour, salt, and brown sugar. Add the coconut oil and pulse until very small pebbles of coconut are left. The mixture should stick together if you squish a handful of it. Slowly add the ice cold water until a dough begins to form. Turn out onto a floured surface and shape into a disc, then wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
3. Make the filling. In a medium bowl, whisk together pumpkin purée, maple syrup, cornstarch, and pumpkin pie spice.
4. Remove dough from the refrigerator and turn out onto a floured surface. Using a rolling pin to make a very thin layer, about ⅛ inch thick, or at least make sure that your sheet of dough is large enough to cut out twelve 4-inch rounds.
5. One at a time, place about 2 Tablespoons of filling in the center of a round of dough. Layer another round of dough over the top, being careful not to trap too much air. Use a fork to press down (hard) and flute the edges. Since there is no egg holding these together, you really need to make sure you smash the two sides together with the fork. In the top of each pastry, use a toothpick to stab little holes in the top, Pop Tart style!
6. Bake in a 375 F oven for approximately 15 minutes, or until the edges are golden brown and crispy.
7. Let cool completely.
8. To make the glaze, whisk together powdered sugar, maple syrup, coconut oil, and cinnamon. If too thick, add a little water at a time, until it is smooth enough to drizzle over the top of the pastries, but not so thin that it pours right off.
9. Pour the glaze over the top of each pastry and smooth with a knife if it doesn’t spread enough. Enjoy!
PS – Don’t put these in a toaster.