Way Better Than Pop Tarts

Flaky stuffed pillows of pie crust sprinkled with cinnamon sugar. One bite of these, and you’ll never look a Pop-Tart straight in the face again.

Back in the day, my childhood home was known as the “health food” house. (It was also known as the “twigs and berries” house.) My mom primarily shopped at the health food coop. She didn’t allow processed sugar, and so when I saw my friends eat those tantalizingly sugar-laced Pop-Tarts (as advertised on TV), I could only imagine how wonderful they must taste. Mmm… Flaky golden crust, sweet and smooth icing, bursting with delicious chocolate or thick, sugary berry jam.

Well, one day, I worked up the courage to sneak one! Oh yes, my sister and I became masterful at sneaking sugar. At our secret hiding spot, my friend handed me one of these foil-wrapped treasures. I held it in my hands, heart beating with anticipation. Then I ripped into the wrapping, took a giant bite and…

Blech! The flavorless, cardboard-like confection I held in my hands bore no semblance to the treats that came popping out of toasters in TV land.  Later in life, I tried a health food version of a Pop-Tart and, again, ended up wishing I hadn’t.

Because of those experiences, I’m not a person who walks through life thinking about Pop-Tarts. So, coming up with the idea to make today’s creation caught me by surprise. A couple of months ago, I’d made some fantastic pear butter. It has the best texture, aroma, and flavor. It seemed a waste to leave it in the freezer over the summer. I thawed it and started my search for recipes. I thought the pear butter would be delicious layered between some kind of pastry. I envisioned a layer of mellow cheese (think mascarpone) topped with the pear butter.  I started my Internet search with the sole word “tart” just to see what would result. (Fortunately, I had the “safe” filter on my browser, otherwise who knows what images “tart” might have conjured forth.) As luck would have it, the third result was homemade pop tarts from Smitten Kitchen.

Way Better Than Pop-Tarts

Makes 9 Pastries


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 sticks (1 cup) of unsalted butter
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 3/4 cup pear butter or jam
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch mixed with 1 tbsp cold water
  • 1 tsp cinnamon mixed with 3 tsp granulated sugar for the topping
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Mix flour, sugar and salt. Slice butter into pats. Mix in butter with a pastry blender or your fingers. Do this until butter is pea-sized. It is ready when dough holds together when you squeeze it.
  3. Whisk together one egg and milk.
  4. Stir egg mixture into dough. Dough should form into a ball.
  5. Divide dough in half and shape each half into a rectangle (about 3 x 5 inches).
  6. Roll out one half of the dough on a lightly floured surface. Try to keep the shape rectangular. Roll out until dough is about 1/8 inch thick and is about 9″ x 12.” Cut the dough into nine 3″ x 4″ rectangles. Repeat with second half of dough.
  7. Mix together pear butter (or jam) and cornstarch mixture.
  8. Beat the second egg and brush it on one 3″ x 4″ piece.
  9. Place a heaping tablespoon of pear butter mixture in center of egg-covered dough. Spread out the pear mixture leaving a 1/2″ border.
  10. Place a second 3″ x 4″ dough rectangle on first dough rectangle. Press down on edges to seal the two pieces together.
  11. Use tines of a fork on the perimeter of rectangle to complete the seal and to add a decorative touch.
  12. Repeat with remaining tarts.
  13. Place tarts on parchment-lined baking sheets. Wash the tops with remaining egg mixture. Sprinkle tops with cinnamon-sugar mixture. Prick each tart a few times to allow steam to escape.
  14. Place in oven for 20 minutes. The tarts should be a golden brown. Cool in pan on wire rack.
Adapted from http://smittenkitchen.com/2010/04/homemade-pop-tarts/

11 thoughts on “Way Better Than Pop Tarts

  1. My favorite flavor of pop tarts when I was young was the brown sugar-cinnamon. Hands down. None of that fruity stuff, I wanted straight sugar! But I’ve grown up (a little bit) and while I’m still a sugar fiend, I’ve been trying to cut down on the processed sugar so I used maple syrup instead. The only part of the recipe where I broke my processed sugar rule was with the icing on top. My 8 year old self would not let me pass up icing these! But the icing has more maple syrup in it to give the tarts lots of maple-y flavor.

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