Homemade pop tart pastry dough is stuffed with a buttery brown sugar filling, baked, and then topped with the most perfect cinnamon glaze. These unreal Brown Sugar Pop Tarts made from scratch are not to be missed.
Brown Sugar Pop Tart Recipe
Ask anyone what their favorite pop tart flavor is and you'll have very strong opinions coming your way. And it seems that those that love the Brown Sugar Pop Tarts are the most vociferous and determined to convince you that they are indeed the best flavor. After one bite of this homemade version, and you'll know the Brown Sugar Pop Tart activists are right. The star of this pop tart is the buttery brown sugar filling, which is encased in a pop tart pastry that is both light and crumbly and then topped with the most perfect cinnamon glaze. They are the perfect treat to bake up, and they freeze well, so you can have homemade pop tarts any day of the week! Let's get to baking, shall we?
Steps to Make Brown Sugar Pop Tarts
Put this in the “project” category of recipes, but not the difficult category! There are a few steps needed to make homemade pop tarts and you should plan to make them over two days. To make the pop tarts you will need to:
- make and chill the dough (at least 12 hours of chill time)
- mix together the brown sugar filling
- roll the dough / fill / bake the pop tarts
- frost the pop tarts
Tools Needed for this Recipe:
- food processor
- rolling pin
- pastry wheel cutter
- pastry brush
- pastry bench scraper
- Bowls, spatula, fork, etc
How Pop Tart Pastry Differs from Pie Dough
The pastry in this recipe is not traditional flaky pie dough. In fact, making a flaky pastry is the opposite of what you would want for a pop tart. Otherwise, you’d be making hand pies, right? Traditional pie dough–when made properly–would act more like puff pastry when rolled out and filled to make pop tarts. So this dough is made slightly different than my pie dough recipe instructs, with a few extra ingredients that make this pop tart dough perfect.
The dough is made in a food processor. Instead of leaving large chunks of butter in the dough (like you would for pie dough), the instructions call for running the processor until the dough clumps together around the blade. This ensures the butter is worked into the dough enough, which will prevent the dough from rising too much in the oven.
A touch of sugar is added to the dough, as well as a bit of milk, to make the pastry more flavorful and tender.
Rolling out Pop Tart Pastry
The dough needs to be thoroughly chilled before rolling out. Once it’s chilled (I always recommend making dough the day before and letting it rest overnight), remove from the refrigerator and let it soften up for 5-10 minutes. The dough is ready to roll out when it makes an indentation when you gently press your finger into the dough.
Generously flour your work surface, as well as your rolling pin. Divide the dough in half, and set the other half aside. Roll out the dough to a rough rectangle with a thickness of ⅛″ thick. I recommend having a ruler on hand. Then, using either a knife or a pastry cutter, cut the dough into 4 x 3-inch rectangles. Rolling out each dough piece to a rough 9 x 13 inch rectangle should yield about 8 rectangles. Then, re-roll the scraps and roll them out one time. In total, you should be able to get 16-18 rectangles.
After making this dough several times, I noticed that the thickness of the rolled out dough is very important. If the dough is rolled out too thin, the pop tart will collapse after it has finished baking. Do use a ruler to make sure the dough has been rolled out to an even thickness of ⅛″ for the best results.
How to Seal the Pop Tarts Well
It’s important to seal the pop tart dough well so that the filling does not leak out. There are quite a few tricks used in this recipe to make sure all that delicious filling stays inside. I recommend you follow them all for the best result!
- Brush the bottom pastry with egg wash. This helps seal the dough together.
- After you place the second piece of dough on top of the filling, make sure to push down on all sides of the pastry.
- Use a fork and press down on the edges of the pastry.
- And finally, the most important step: use a pastry bench scraper to slice of the very tip of the edges. This not only cleans up the edges so the pop tarts look neat, but it also acts to truly seal the two pieces of pastry together. Using a knife doesn’t work the same, because knives are sharp and instead of mashing the two pieces of pastry together it just cuts right through them. If you don’t have a pastry bench scraper, I recommend using another tool that is dull, but not so dull that it can’t cut through the soft pastry. Even a ruler might work well!
Baking Brown Sugar Pop Tarts
The most important step in the baking of these pop tarts is the chilling time beforehand. Chilling the filled pastries ensures that they keep their shape well. Chill the filled pop tarts in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes, or ideally 1 hour, before baking.
Once they are chilled, take a sharp knife and poke holes through the top of the pastry. This lets steam escape during the bake and helps prevent the dough from rising too much and leaving a gap in between the filling and the top of the pastry. Sometimes this just happens anyways, as the butter can have a mind of its own in the oven.
These pop tarts taste best when they are just lightly baked. The goal is to not get too much browning on the dough. They should be baked in the middle rack until the bottoms are lightly golden, about 25 minutes.
Easy Cinnamon Glaze
The frosting on top is not to be forgotten! It’s simple to make and consists of powdered sugar, cinnamon, a bit of milk, and a splash of vanilla extract. The glaze should be thick so it stays on top of the pop tart. You’ll know you have the right consistency if when you drizzle the glaze it keeps it’s shape for a few seconds when hitting the bowl.
If your glaze is too thin, simply add in a tablespoon more powdered sugar at a time. If it’s too thick, add in more milk.
Once the pop tarts are cool, spoon on about 1 tablespoon of glaze and gently smooth it down along the top of the pop tart.
Storing Brown Sugar Pop Tarts
The pop tarts will keep well for up to 3 days, at room temperature, in a closed container. Just make sure that the glaze is completely set before you place them on top of one another.
Un-frosted pop tarts can even be frozen, baked or unbaked, for up to 1 month in the freezer. Defrost at room temperature.
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