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.

 

Cutie Pies

In honor of Pi Day, I decided to make cutie pies… adorable little pies that are literally made out of Cuties California Clementines!

cutie and pie

These California clementines are so sugary sweet that they can be eaten as candy.  Their size makes it easy to demolish a handful of them.  Luckily, you don’t have to feel bad about it!

barrel o cuties

Though I can’t recommend eating a handful of these miniature pies in one sitting, I can guarantee that you’ll want to!  Making clementine curd filling is very simple and took me about 15 minutes.

side by side

These treats are a refreshing update on the simple lemon tart.  While experimenting, I found that these cutie pies turned out a little too sweet when I used exclusively clementine juice to make the curd mixture.  To remedy this, I used half clementine and half lemon juice to add back the zing that many people associate with citrus pastries.

choco cutie

To make the pie crusts, I used left-over sablé tart dough that I brought home from pastry school.  Sablé means “sand” in French, and the crust crumbles apart with a sandy texture.  Any tart crust recipe will do the trick for these cutie pies though.

half and half

The time is now… whip up a cutie pie for your cutie pie!

cutie pie long shot_1

Ingredients

1/4 cup clementine juice, 1/4 cup lemon juice, 3 large eggs, 3/4 cup granulated sugar, 4 tablespoons of chopped unsalted butter, zest of two clementines, pinch of salt, tart or pie dough

Directions

  1. Combine all ingredients excluding butter in a saucepan but do not put on the heat yet.  Whisk ingredients together until well incorporated.
  2. Place on the heat and continue to whisk.  Stir constantly so that the eggs don’t cook and scramble.  Soon, the mixture will thicken.
  3. When mixture thickens, add the butter.  Adjust heat to low.
  4. Stir until the mixture no longer has lumps of butter and has a smooth consistency.
  5. Strain mixture into a container and let chill in the fridge.
  6. After the mixture has cooled, fill a piping bag and pipe the mixture evenly into chilled or room temperature tart shells.

cutie pie filling

cutie pie long shot