-Me, age 10 to 15
That’s the whole list.
It was a fragile time, the ill-famed awkward stage, one I filled with activities like: making water balloon families and naming them after the cast of Full House, plastering every square inch of my bedroom walls with posters of Disney Channel stars to “take a rebellious stance” against the “hideous lavender paint for babies,” cutting my own side bangs to be
just like everybody else an individual, misunderstanding the concept of eyeliner … oh, how vivid is the ghost of braces past.
In retrospect, I think the first defining moment of my awkward stage was when I opened up a box of Pop-Tarts to find that I had WON A FREE IPOD and literally ran in circles around my house singing “I’VE GOT A GOLDEN TICKET!!” because clearly I had just won a trip to the Wonka factory. (shout-out to my parents for laughing only behind my back)
That sleek, sexy (chunky, made-in-2006) piece of mp3-playing metal defined me as a real live “preteen,” and when that term comes into play in any young female’s life, things immediately take a turn for the worse. I filled that iPod with lots of High School Musical and thus my awkward stage was born. A Kellogg’s miracle.
(I will not be including any photographs of myself from this time as I do not condone publicizing early adolescence. Which is why I will never understand bat mitzvahs.)
I ate so many Pop-Tarts as a child that I actually ended up with the prize-winning box. I ditched them as a regular snack around the same time that kale started being a thing that I thought about, so it’s been a hot minute since I’ve tasted their genuine chalky goodness. (That’s a lie, I ate Pop-Tarts on prom night, but I’ve decided to omit all of prom from the list of “things that have happened in my life,” so they don’t officially count).
When it dawned on me that Pop-Tarts could be homemade, it also dawned on me that I could fill them with Biscoff spread. So the next morning at dawn (just kidding, I’ve never once functioned at dawn) I embarked on an adventure to build a better Pop-tart, 0% chalky preservative awkward stage mess, 100% flaky rich goodness with some seriously awesome caramel-y depth of flavor. I made them tiny because I generally prefer tiny things (this does not apply to bags of kettle corn or closet space), but it turns out that these are so overwhelmingly flavorful and satisfying that a smaller-than-average serving size is perfect. If you’ve never experienced the magic of Biscoff, it is an ethereally smooth cookie spread made from ground Belgian ginger cookies, and there are few things more delicious/addicting on the planet. Stuff it in Pop-Tarts and your life will improve exponentially.
In conclusion, I have managed to make icing covered cookies filled with ground cookies and call them breakfast. ‘Impossible’ is no longer a word in my vocabulary.
10 ounces all-purpose flour
1 tsp kosher salt
8 ounces cold butter, cubed
6 ounces light corn syrup (I used Lyle’s Golden Syrup instead of corn syrup because its what I had on hand, because I’m that girl. I think it added a whole new dimension to the dough, so if you can’t find Lyle’s Golden Syrup because you are a normal human, maybe try using a combination of honey or maple syrup and corn syrup.)
Biscoff Spread (you will need less than a jar, but you will eat the rest of the jar. Trust. ALSO, the Trader Joe’s version is NOT GOOD, Lotus Brand is the absolute best!)
3 egg whites (or 3 tablespoons of meringue powder + 4 tablespoons of water. Again, I tend to have the stranger ingredients on hand.)
4 cups confectioners sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Cut the butter into the flour, along with the salt, until reduced to pea sized lumps. You can use a hand/stand mixer or a food processor, or just do it with your fingers. Then add the corn syrup all at once and mix until it forms a ball. Dust your hands with a little flour, scoop out the dough, and knead lightly until smooth.
Flatten the dough into a squarish shape, cut it in half into two rectangles, wrap each in plastic, and chill 30 minutes or as long as you like. The dough can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.Preheat oven to 350. Once the dough is thoroughly chilled, roll out one of the rectangles to 1/4”, and no thicker. Even slightly less than 1/4″ thickness is ideal Remember, each Pop-Tart will have two layers of dough, Biscoff filling, and icing on top. If the dough is rolled too thick, you could end up with a 1″ Pop-Tart. Not ideal. What I did was roll each rectangle into a very long and skinny rectangle, about 6″ wide and 16″ long. If it’s longer, that’s fine, just keep it 6″ wide. Then, I sliced the rectangle into two 3″ by 16″ strips, and then sliced those strips crosswise every 2 inches. You should end up with a bunch of symmetrical 2×3 squares of dough. It’s fine if they’re not perfect, as long as each rectangle has an equal sized counterpart to pair it with.
Brush the squares with a little milk or water to act as your “glue” when you seal the layers together. Spread about 2 tablespoons of Biscoff on half the 2×3 squares, leaving a 1/4 inch border around the edge. Top these with the remaining pieces of dough. Smooth the dough over the filling and press out any air bubbles before gently sealing the edges of the dough together. Crimp the edges of the dough with a fork to up the cuteness meter. I then trimmed the ragged edges of my sealed pop tarts with a pairing knife for even more cuteness.
Poke several holes with a fork in the top layers of the pop-tarts to create steam vents, so they don’t explode in baking. Transfer your Pop-Tarts to a parchment lined or well-greased baking sheet, and bake for 15-20 minutes, until they just start to become golden brown around the edges.
While those bake, repeat this entire process again with the second half of the dough you forgot was still in the fridge. Let all Pop-Tarts cool completely before icing.
Make the icing: beat the egg whites (or meringue powder and water) with the vanilla extract with an electric mixer until frothy. Add the confectioners sugar gradually and beat on low until the mixture is shiny. Increase speed to high and beat until icing forms stiff, glossy peaks, about 5-7 minutes. If using meringue powder, beat until it reaches soft peaks. Spoon a very small amount of icing on the center of each Pop-Tart, and carefully spread until it reaches the crimped edge. Top with sprinkles for over the top cuteness. Let the icing harden before eating… in fact, these Pop-Tarts are even better the second day, if they last that long.
If you never had an awkward stage, you’re probably still in one. Embrace it.