Pop-tarts and my sous chef

sous chefI feel as though I should introduce you to my sous chef.  He always wears a tuxedo in the kitchen (although his pants are a little too short), and he really enjoys eating (among other things) canned pumpkin straight out of the can. Sometimes, he tries to trip me while I’m cooking, and other times he tries to start up a chirpy conversation with me. He’s not great about clean up. I think I need to hire a dishwasher.

He has a brother, who you’ll be introduced to later. Now that you’ve met, I can show my true crazy-cat-lady colors on occasion.

This was the first truly chilly weekend we’ve had this year…we’ve FINALLY dipped pretty consistently into the 40’s during the day. As a Californian-turned-Chicagoan, I think I’m one of the few people I know in this city who really and truly loves the cold. Why yes, I would LOVE to see another blizz-aster/snowprah/snowmageddon/snowtorious B.I.G. a-la-February 2011 this year. Especially since we got totally short-changed on cold weather last winter.

Anywho, do you ever crave gross fake foods? Like pop tarts? Even though you know how bad they are for you? I do. I woke up on Saturday morning reeeeally wanting a pop tart/toaster strudel type thing (except with real fruit and no chemicals). And then I remembered that I had precisely one good apple and one good pear in the fridge. And a sheet of puff pastry in the freezer. Thus, a ‘homemade’ spiced apple pear pop tart was born. Yes, I am aware that because I didn’t make the puff pastry from scratch, this is not truly homemade. Have you ever even looked at a recipe for making puff pastry? Because I have. Two words: hell. no.

There is no real exact science to this recipe. I guessed on everything, and I guessed right because they were flipping delicious. Here’s what I did:

Preheat oven to 375F. Defrost one sheet of puff pastry on the kitchen counter on a sheet of parchment. It didn’t take long for mine to defrost, since it was one big flat sheet, but since sometimes they’re folded, so your time may vary.

Peel and dice one apple (I used Braeburn, but Granny Smith, Pink Lady, or any good baking apple would do just fine), and one half of a pear. I used a relatively small dice so the apples were less likely to poke holes in the puff pastry during baking. Put the diced apple and pear in a medium bowl.

Add a tablespoon or so of brown sugar, 2 teaspoons of regular sugar, and then what ever spices you want! I used cinnamon, mace, and cardamom, but you could do whatever you want. Toss everything together, and then add a tablespoon or so of flour, and toss again.

In a nonstick skillet, melt 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter, and then saute the apple/pear mixture until the fruit softens a bit and the mixture gets a little gooey from the melted sugar. Don’t burn it! The fruit doesn’t need to be soggy, just a little softer than normal. Once it’s done, set it aside.

Cut the sheet of puff pastry in half. Roll each half out a bit, and moisten the edges of each piece a bit with your finger dipped in some cool water. Add half of the apple mixture to one side of each piece, and fold the dough in half and over the apple mixture so you’ve basically created an uncooked pop-tart. Crimp and seal the edges using the tines of a fork. Place both pop tarts on a cookie sheet fitted with a piece of parchment or a silpat. Brush the tops lightly with some melted butter and sprinkle with some vanilla sugar. Bake until puffy and golden brown (it took mine about 15-20 minutes, but I would keep an eye on it).

You’ll have to excuse the very roughly written “recipe” and the crappy iPhone picture. Food blogger fail. My bad. Anyway, get crafty with these. It’s super easy, and you can probably use a lot of different combinations of spices and fruit. I think a sweet-savory one with chevre, peaches, and thyme would be amaaaazing.


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