My childhood was not without its fair share of processed convenience foods. Seeing as both my parents worked, and worked often, the refrigerator and cupboards at our house were usually stocked with enough TV dinners, frozen pizza, frozen waffles, boxed macaroni, Instant Ramen, and the like, to last an ice age or two, or to at least feed three undersupervised boys for a few days.
Luckily, the high dosages of yellow number 5, high-fructose corn syrup, trans fats, and nitrates had no long-term ill-effects on my brothers and me. Wait, scratch that. Both my brothers (ages 35 and 28) now have gout (seriously). Though somehow I managed to escape that fate. Good times.
Anyways, my favorite junk/survival food from back in the day had to be pop tarts--the toaster pastries that I believe were meant for breakfast, but I took to eating the tasty pastries any time of day. I was especially addicted to the strawberry pop tarts with the white frosting and sprinkles.
Although I've long since shaken my addiction to the sugary toaster shingles, I still sometimes get the urge to buy a box of pop tarts whenever I pass them in the grocery store--for just a taste of nostalgia. But then I take a look at my own young son sitting in my grocery cart and realize that if any of that processed pop tart-y goodness got into his system, he would surely run through the walls at home.
But a few weeks ago, I came across this great article in the LA Times about homemade pop tarts. After reading the article, I immediately thought, "Wait a second. I could make my own pop tarts? And I could put whatever I want in them?"
Of course I had to try the recipe out, and of course, I had to put my own pinoy-twist to it as well. The outcome? Homemade Pop Tarts filled with Halayang Ube (purple yam jam) and glazed with ube frosting.
To make your own pop tarts at home, all you really need is a good pie crust recipe and a filling of your choice. But I highly recommend the Times' pop tart pie crust recipe--it's buttery, flaky, delicate and nothing like I remember from my childhood, which is a good thing.
Rolled out pop tart dough
For my ube pop tarts, I just used some Halayang Ube I got at my friendly neighborhood Filipino market. Halayang Ube is sweet purple yam mixed with sugar and milk (sometimes coconut milk) to form a thick purple yam jam.
Purple Yam Jam, man.
After rolling out the dough, brushing with egg yolk, dolloping on some ube jam, and then slapping the tops on the bottoms, the next step was to just bake and wait.
Buttery and Flaky
After the pop tarts came out of the oven, I let them cool on a wire rack. Although the pastries looked and smelled great at this point, I decided to recreate some of my childhood memories of those frosted pop tarts by making a glaze of my own. But I figured I'd up the Ube flavor by making an ube frosting with some ube extract. And because we always seem to have some sort of sprinkles in the cabinet for my wife's holiday cookies every year, I also decided to make it rain with some red sprinkles.
Ah, just like old times.
I only ended up frosting half of my pop tarts because I knew I wanted to try the finished product without any glaze. I must say that I preferred the non-glazed pop tarts. The extra ube frosting took away from the great flavor of the crust itself, and the frosting also prevents any re-heating in the toaster the next day.
I must say that a re-heated homemade pop tart right out of the toaster the next day is just as good as a homemade pop tart fresh out of the oven. The pastry itself is incredibly buttery, and the halayang ube inside lends a nice subtle sweetness. Homemade ube pop tarts are great with a cold glass of milk (the way my son likes it), or a hot cup of coffee (my preferred pairing).
He likes it! He really likes it!
If anyone's interested in making your own pop tarts, and you should be, I highly recommend the LA Times recipe for the pop tart crust--these pop tarts a million times better than the store-bought kind. And really anything can be used as the filling. Strawberry jam or nutella would be great. And for more Filipino fillings besides halayang ube, how about macapuno? Or even mango? Or a barako coffee chocolate ganache?
And if you want to try my ube glaze, here's the recipe for that:
Makes enough frosting for 4 Pop Tarts
1/4 cup powdered sugar
2-3 teaspoons milk
1-2 drops ube extract (can be found at Filipino markets)
Place the powdered sugar in a small bowl. Drizzle the milk into the sugar and mix until the desired consistency is achieved. Mix in the ube extract.