I Tried Making Gourmet Pop-Tarts in My Dorm

With only my tiny dorm kitchen and a borrowed food processor, I attempted to make Bon Appétit's gourmet Pop-Tarts from scratch.

These gourmet Pop-Tarts are made from Bon Appetit's recipe featured in the YouTube series "Gourmet Makes." If you have six hours to spare, they will be a delicious treat for your efforts. (Photo by Mia Karle)

Bon Appetit’s popular YouTube series “Gourmet Makes” follows chef Claire Saffitz and her quest to make ordinary snacks — like Oreos, Pringles and Ben & Jerry’s — into gourmet treats from scratch. For all snacks Saffitz has attempted to elevate, she spends days experimenting with various recipes and techniques in order to create a reimagination of the popular foods. As a snack food enthusiast, I sought to find out if I could recreate one of her recipes in my dinky dorm kitchen.

After skimming through the “Gourmet Makes” series, I realized that I didn’t have most of the equipment Saffitz used to cook readily available in my dorm kitchen — I have a stove, an oven, a borrowed food processor and various basic kitchen supplies. Because of these limitations, I decided to make a classic name-brand desert: Pop-Tarts.

In their simplest form, Pop-Tarts consist of a thick filling covered in a shortbread shell topped with icing and sprinkles. It seemed simple enough, so after jotting down notes while watching Saffitz make her Pop-Tarts, it was time to try it myself. 

Six hours later, I finally finished the Pop-Tarts. They were disfigured, poorly frosted and topped with burnt sprinkles. However, as soon as I tasted my creation, it almost felt worth it. The crumbly pastry, tangy filling and delectable icing complimented each other perfectly. The tart was truly gourmet. 

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Would I recommend making this for a college student in a tiny dorm kitchen? Absolutely not. Despite my best efforts to buy cheap ingredients and utilize the resources I had — I used a water bottle as a rolling pin — the pastry was not quite good enough to make up for the six hours I lost. Sure, if you have a free six hours, two pounds of fresh fruit lying around and a food processor, go for it. The results are delicious. If not, just eat some store-bought Pop-Tarts. 

 

Gourmet Pop-Tarts Recipe

Ingredients

Dough:

2 ½ cups of flour

4 teaspoons of sugar

1 teaspoon of kosher salt

2 sticks of butter

6 tablespoons of ice water 

Filling:

1 pound of fresh strawberries 

1 pound of frozen strawberries

6 tablespoons of sugar

1 teaspoon of lemon zest 

1 teaspoon of lemon juice 

Icing: 

1 egg white 

1 teaspoon of vanilla 

½ teaspoon of lemon juice 

½ teaspoon of cornstarch 

Powdered sugar to taste

Sprinkles: 

1 egg white 

Food coloring 

Powdered sugar 

 

Directions: 

  1. Start with the dough, blending all ingredients except the water in a food processor until it becomes a crumbly mixture. Add ice water until a dough forms. Wrap in an airtight container and chill for one hour. 
  2. Blend both frozen and fresh strawberries in a food processor. Strain the liquid through a sieve, pressing out solids. 
  3. Simmer the liquid, adding the sugar until it is reduced 75 percent and able to skim across the bottom of the pan. While it is simmering, scoop the foam. Put the mixture on a baking sheet and bake at 250 F at 10-minute intervals until the mixture is thick. Add lemon zest and juice. 
  4. Cut dough into desirable rectangle sizes. Spread filling on one rectangle and top with another, poking holes in the top one. Bake at 300 F until golden brown. 
  5. For the icing, mix all ingredients together, adding powdered sugar until a thick icing forms. 
  6. For the sprinkles, whisk an egg white and powdered sugar together until thick, divide into bowls and add food coloring. Spread thin layers on a baking sheet and bake at 100 F until dehydrated and breakable. 
  7. After cooling, top the baked tarts with icing and sprinkles. 

Email Mia Karle at [email protected]

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