Salty Sweet Valentine’s Day Pop-Tarts

This past week I went to a “Drunk TED Talk” in Brooklyn… and the topic was “crushes.”  Perfect for Valentine’s Day, am I right?  Comedian Ana Fabrega was one of the featured speakers, and she gave an achingly funny presentation on how to let your crush know that you like them.  I could relate a little too well.

Valentine’s Day brings about thoughts of past crushes for everyone.  I remember how on-top-of-the-world I felt after asking a guy for his e-mail address (not his phone number!) after a final theater performance in sixth grade…  nope, I never emailed him!  I know, so awkward.  That scrap of well-earned paper is probably still in my childhood bedroom somewhere.

This year, I challenge you to ask out your crush in a much sweeter (and classier) way; with these Salted Caramel Banana Pop-Tarts!  Maybe “Pop-Hearts” or “Heart-Tarts” would be a more accurate name for these cute little banana custard treats.  Nothing says “I LIKE-like you” like these DIY delicacies.  Scroll down for the recipe!

 

Salted Caramel Banana Pop-Tarts

Part 1:  Banana Custard

This banana custard is to DIE for.  You’ll be lucky if you actually get to the final Pop-Tart stage.  All I wanted to do was eat a bowl of the custard with a spoon!

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 6 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Directions:

  1. Combine sliced bananas, milk, and vanilla in a medium sauce pan over low heat.  Bring to a simmer.
  2. Strain the banana milk through a mesh sieve.  Discard the solids.  Put back over the heat and bring to a simmer.
  3.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the sugar, egg yolks, and cornstarch.
  4. When the banana milk is hot, temper it in the egg mixture.  By adding a small amount of the hot milk into the egg mixture, you avoid creating little bits of scrambled the eggs.  Transfer everything back into the saucepan.
  5. Cook the custard on low heat until it thickens and starts to bubble.  Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the butter, until the mixture has a smooth consistency.
  6. Refrigerate until cool and thick.  Cover with plastic wrap, pressing the wrap up against the custard to prevent a skin from forming.

Part 2:  Pop-Tart Dough

This pie dough is light and flakey.  I suggest rolling out the dough as thin as you can so that the banana filling flavor isn’t overpowered.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, cold and cut into around 1/2-inch cubes
  • 4 – 5 Tablespoons ice water
  • one egg

Directions:

  1. Mix together the salt, flour, and sugar.
  2. Add butter and mix until the butter is fully incorporated and the mixture is crumbly.  Add water.
  3. Form dough into a ball and chill for about an hour.
  4. Roll dough out onto a floured surface.  The thinner you roll out the dough, the stronger the banana filling taste will be.
  5.  Cut dough into desired Pop-Tart shapes, and make sure that each piece has a match.
  6. Arrange the bottom halves of your Pop-Tarts on a baking sheet, spaced evenly apart.
  7. Mix the egg and paint a thin layer onto one side of the bottom Pop-Tart halves.  This will help to glue the bottom half of the Pop-Tart to the top half.
  8. Place a spoonful of banana custard in the middle of each piece.
  9. Place the matching half on top of each piece.  Using a fork, press the edge of the top into the bottom.
  10. Bake at 375 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes until golden.  Rotate half way through baking.  Let cool before adding the icing and the caramel.

Part 3: Vanilla Glaze

This is a basic vanilla glaze that I often use on sugar cookies.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons half and half, with more as needed to reach desired consistency
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Gradually incorporate the half and half into the powdered sugar.  Once desired consistency has been reached, add vanilla.
  2. Pour on top of baked Pop-Tarts.

Part 4: Caramel Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Bring brown sugar, butter, and milk to a gentle boil and cook until thickened, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from heat and add vanilla extract.
  2. While still very hot, drizzle on top of glazed Pop-Tarts.

I topped the Pop-Tarts off with a pinch of sea salt on top of each heart.  I also added a few pieces of edible gold leaf.

 

Treat Yo’self (And Your Friends): Pastry Gift Guide

The best way to legitimize the those great expanses of time you spend online shopping during the holiday season?  Writing a blog post about it!  Indulge yourself in my shopping guide that captures some of the internet’s cutest pastry related gifting options.  Treat the sweeties who love sweets in your life, especially if that person happens to be you.

Step in the Right Confection Journal

ice-cream-journal

This journal from Modcloth is perfect for documenting all of those sweet moments!  Use it as a journal or use it for recipe notes.  I go through piles of journals… I try to write down one positive thing that happened to me every day, and I’ve been doing this since 2010.  There were a few lost days during my hectic academic flurry at the University of Chicago, but other than that, I have a pretty good record of my life and its upward trends.  It’s comforting to look back and see that no matter how I’m feeling in a given moment, positive energy and outcomes can be gleaned from just about any situation.  (But for the record, I do have a separate journal for ranting, and I never reread that!)

Taiyaki Pancake Mold

taiyaki-maker

Are you a fan of Taiyaki NYC?  I’ve been obsessed with these fish-shaped pancake treats since I first sampled them in Tokyo five years ago.  Instead of buying a plain old waffle or bubble waffle maker, why don’t you get a taiyaki maker so that you can indulge in these bug-eyed cuties?  Taiyaki are traditionally filled with custard, but who says you can’t go wild with your own ice cream, fruit, or chocolate filling?

Pie Earrings

pie-earrings

“I’m attracted to pie.  It doesn’t mean I feel the need to date pie.”  -Lorelai Gilmore

While I’m actually down to date the right lemon meringue pie if it comes along, I’m pretty sure that wearing little slices of pie on my ears is a good substitute.  These dangly handmade pecan pie earrings look so good that you’ll be tempted to take a little nibble.

Sugar Monster Socks

sugar-socks

If you work in pastry, sometimes you have to abide by a very strict dress code.  In pastry school, we wore matching pants, jackets, hats, shoes, and aprons.  The only way we could express ourselves was with our socks.  Not a huge canvas, right?  We worked with what we got, and tried to infuse our otherwise bland uniform with as much “kick” as possible.  These pink and orange socks let you flaunt your pastry obsession loud and clear.

Japanese Tea Towels

pandas-ice-skating

What could be cuter than pandas ice skating?  I use tenugui, or Japanese tea towels, frequently for my pastry photo shoots.  Short of going to Japan and hitting their spectacular traditional markets, you can find tenugui with modern twists at places like Kinokuniya and Mitsuwa.  Etsy also has quite a few to choose from!

Confection Cutie Nail Art

jamberry

One of the bummers about working in pastry is that you can’t wear nail polish for health code reasons.  Live vicariously through a friend and get them this ultra-cute pastry inspired nail wrap set.  The design is inspired by Ann Reardon of How to Cook That, one of the sweetest new blogs I’ve discovered!