today’s taste: pumpkin pop-tarts
Quite a bit can change in two weeks – especially if those two weeks “fall” (get it?) around the last day of summer. Before we knew it, the muggy DC weather had packed its bags to head south, leaving behind a crisper – and rainier – season; our Starbucks cups have become talking works of art (“warmly, fall” – we felt the irony as we switched our thermostat from air conditioning to heat); we even see some bashful Christmas decorations peeking out from the back corner of Homegoods. How do we feel about this change? We love it.
Oh, we know the days of rooftop happy hours and (sneaking into nearby hotel) pools are gone. But right now, we are still giddy about pumpkin everything and pumpkin everywhere. In fact, we are pretty partial to fall flavors in general. The spiciness of cinnamon, the tartness of apples, and the earthiness of sweet potatoes make the chilly air wonderfully rich. Fall is a time to breathe in a little more deeply.
To kick off this season of baking, though, we did have to play favorites – and pumpkin was, inevitably, the favorite. But what to do with the pumpkin? Pumpkin pie is a classic – and we plan to make several dozen over the coming months – but now, we wanted to be a little more adventurous. Inspiration struck during a late-night visit to Ted’s Bulletin, a DC spot specializing in homemade pop-tarts (and boozy milkshakes). We both noticed the conspicuous absence of pumpkin pop-tarts – and went from there.
During the process, we realized that pop-tarts are essentially miniature, rectangular pies. The filling is similar, and the crust is essentially a pie crust. While we often will use a store-bought frozen pie crust to save a few minutes, we strongly recommend making this crust from scratch. Make sure you follow the instructions closely, though. The time spent chilling the dough – both after mixing the ingredients and after assembling the pop-tarts – is critical. It hardens the butter, which keeps the crust flakey and light. As with a full-size pie, don’t forget to add air vents to the pop-tarts before baking; these vents let the steam escape, and prevent your pop-tarts from becoming puffy bites of air (rather than pumpkin).
Once we figured out the crust, the rest was easy. We sampled from a variety of pumpkin pie recipes to create a filling that retained the flavor but had a thick enough consistency to hold its own on a flat crust (rather than inside a pie plate). The topping is a good opportunity for future experimentation, but a caramel drizzle is – and always will be – dependable and delicious. If you use a jar of caramel, as we did, just heat the jar for a few seconds, spoon the caramel over the pan, and enjoy your child-size pumpkin pie! (“Child-size” is how we justify eating more than one.)
As we said, quite a bit can change in two weeks – even more than coffee cups. Sadly, this will be the last Honeyduke Homemade post while Emily and Morgan live under the same roof (though it will not be the last!). Tomorrow, Morgan is moving to Orange County, California to trade in a long-distance relationship for a long-distance friendship and food blog-ship. Once the cooking boxes are unpacked and the fridges and pantry are stocked, though, the blog will continue – with two kitchens instead of one!
- 2 cups all purpose flour, plus additional flour for rolling and shaping
- 1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into ½ -inch cubes
- 4 tablespoons ice water
- 1 egg
- ¾ cup pureed pumpkin
- 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup evaporated milk
- ⅓ cup sugar
- 1 jar of caramel
- Whisk 2 cups flour, coarse salt, and sugar in a large bowl. Add butter. Using fingertips, blend in butter until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add ice water by tablespoonfuls, tossing until moist clumps form.
- Gather dough into ball. Divide in half; shape each half into disk. Wrap in plastic and chill at least 1 hour.
- Whisk together pureed pumpkin, pumpkin pie spice, salt, evaporated milk, and sugar until smooth.
- Flour 2 large sheets of parchment paper. Working with 1 disk at a time, roll dough to about 11x13 inches. Trim to 12x10 -inch rectangle, then cut into eight 5x3 -inch rectangles.
- Brush rectangles with egg. Spoon 1 ½ tablespoons pumpkin mixture into the center of 8 rectangles; gently lay the other 8 on top of the pumpkin-filled rectangles.
- Using fingertips, gently press all edges of each pop-tart to seal; press all edges with a fork to crimp. Use the tines of the fork to create vent holes in each pop-tart.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees; chill the pop-tarts in the fridge for 30 minutes while the oven preheats. Baking the pop-tarts for 25-30 minutes, or until tops are golden brown.
- Allow pop-tarts to cool on rack for 30 minutes. When pop-tarts are cool, use a spoon to drizzle the desired amount of caramel over pop-tarts. Serve promptly.