It’s already December (how did that happen?!) which means two things: 1.) I can officially start celebrating Christmas now that Thanksgiving has past and 2.) I also need to give you one last pumpkin recipe before I go in to gingerbread/hot chocolate/peppermint mode. So -- Pumpkin Pie Pop-tarts!
Now, it is quite possible that the non American readers have never heard of Pop-tarts. Let me explain: Pop-tarts are an American breakfast treat, consisting of a rectangular piece of pastry with filling (there are fruit, chocolate fillings, or cinnamon fillings) and a thin layer of icing, sometimes topped with sprinkles. My mom rarely ever bought them for us (they fall far outside the realm of a healthy breakfast) and therefore they were considered a special treat, enjoyed only at the houses of our friends with less health conscious mothers. Now that I’m older, I can see Pop-tarts for what they really are -- tasty, yes, but tasty in the way that only junk food can be, yummy and good to satisfy a quick sugar craving, but by no means perfect. The pastry doesn’t have a ton of flavor, the filling and icing are often overly sweet, and they usually taste better when toasted (but we don’t always have a toaster on hand, now do we?!) Pop-tarts, I knew, are a great concept but would certainly be much approved when homemade, when the pastry can be buttery and flaky, the filling fresher with more flavor beyond just sweet.
The verdict then: how right I was! The homemade pastry was divine, a million times better than the store bought Pop-tart, just as buttery and flaky as I’d hoped, and don’t get me started about the filling, which, as you might have guessed, tastes exactly like Pumpkin Pie, creamy and smooth and loaded with cinnamon and ginger (essentially, this is a sneaky way to eat Pumpkin Pie and have it look like breakfast instead of dessert). I was worried that the icing would be too sweet and overpower the Pop-tart, but I have tried both versions, and have found that the icing is the finishing touch that makes these really special, that compliments the filling and the crust without overpowering them. Indeed, if you have one last can of pumpkin in your cupboard to use up to close out Pumpkin season as we head towards Christmas, use it to make these! Enjoy everyone! 1000 times better than your regular pop-tart; enough pumpkin.
PUMPKIN PIE POP-TARTS
2 cups + 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
1 tsp salt
1 tsp granulated sugar
1 cup unsalted butter, cold and diced into 1/2-inch cubes
4 - 5 Tbsp ice water
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 cup softened cream cheese
2 Tbsp granulated sugar
2 Tbsp packed light-brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp of nutmeg
1/8 tsp allspice
1 pinch salt
1 large egg yolk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup powdered sugar
2 Tbsp half and half, plus more as needed
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
For the crust: In a food processor pulse together flour, salt and granulated sugar. Add butter and pulse mixture until resembles coarse meal. Add 4 Tbsp water and pulse several times, if it doesn't come together in clumps add remaining 1 Tbsp water. Drop mixture onto a clean surface, gather dough into a ball then divide into two equal portions. Shape each into a ball and cover with plastic wrap. Chill for 1 hour. Meanwhile prepare the filling.
For the pumpkin pie filling: To a mixing bowl, add cream cheese, granulated sugar and brown sugar. Using electric beaters, beat together the pumpkin and the sugars. Next, the lay the pumpkin puree on several layers of paper towels. Wrap and press to soak some of the excess moisture from pumpkin, until you have 3/4 cup pumpkin puree. Add the reduced pumpkin puree to the cream cheese mixture along with the cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice and salt. I ended up adding more spices here as usual, so start with the quantity above and then add more if you wish. Stir everything together well. Mix in the egg yolk and vanilla extract. Cover the bowl and chill the filling until ready to assemble pop tarts.
To assemble pop-tarts: Grease a large baking sheet. Working with 1 chilled disk of dough at a time, roll the dough out onto a floured surface. Cut the dough into 8 rectangles.
Arrange 4 of the rectangles, spaced evenly apart on prepared baking sheet. Spread a slightly heaping 1 1/2 tablespoons of pumpkin pie filling evenly down the center of each rectangle, leaving about a 3/4-inch rim on all sides uncoated. Dampen fingertips with water and run along uncoated edges of pop tarts. Top each with another rectangle, then seal edges with your fingertips, then reseal with a fork or just use your fingertips. Poke the top center of each tart 3 times with a fork. Cover and transfer to freezer to chill at least 2 hours or refrigerate overnight. Repeat this process with remaining disk of dough.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Bake frozen tarts until golden, rotating racks once halfway through baking, about 25 - 30 minutes. Allow to cool on baking sheet several minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before icing.
For the icing: In a mixing bowl whisk together all icing ingredients well then add more half and half about 1/2 tsp at a time to reach desired consistency. Spread over tops of cooled pop tarts, leaving a small rim uncoated around all sides. Sprinkle tops with sprinkles if desired and allow glaze to set at room temperature. Store in an airtight container.