Ever since I abruptly decided to jump off the crazy train that was my day job (or more like leaping off a runaway train a few stops before it plowed spectacularly through the main station), I’ve spent my time working on consulting projects (aka playing with food). Consequently, I find myself with a whole lot of odds and ends in my refrigerator–leftover ingredients from various recipe experiments, like thick béchamel sauce, caramelized onions, and black forest ham. I’d already managed to use some of it on a pizza, mixing together the béchamel and caramelized onion and using the savory concoction as the base for my pizza bianco. But what to do with the rest? There was only a scant cup left over, not really enough for a pot pie and I was pretty much done making croque monsieurs (one of my experiments). As I was standing near the empanadas food truck waiting for my friend at the Farmer’s Market this morning the idea hit me. Why not make Savory Pop Tarts! I could bulk up the leftover caramelized onion béchamel with sautéed mushrooms and cheese to make enough filling for at least ten pop tarts. Layer in some chopped black forest ham and we’ve got a winner.
Now you can make pop tarts with any variety of doughs, from puff pastry to pie. My pastry of choice is a buttery, flaky pate brisee. It’s richer than pie dough, more tender than puff pastry, and provides just the right structure for pop tarts. A word about Pop Tarts (the boxed kind)–I’m not a fan. I tried to like them as kid, but simply couldn’t get past the dry texture and teeth achingly sweet frosting and filling. I think my mom bought me a box once, which I refused to finish…much like that box of Lucky Charms…and that was the end of that. During my sophomore year in college, my roommate used to get care packages laden with boxes of Kraft Macaroni & Cheese, Rice-a-Roni, and Pop Tarts. I gave Pop Tarts another go…no dice. It really wasn’t until I began re-making pop tarts with handmade pastry dough and filling them with really tasty stuff–homemade preserves, Nutella, caramelized fruit, peanut butter, etc.–then I became a convert. Like Lorelei Gilmore, I had a pop tart epiphany (only not about the crappy artificial kind).
The tricky thing about pop tarts is getting the consistency of the filling, whether it’s sweet or savory, just right. If it’s too wet or loose the filling will leak and explode out the sides, leaving you with a sad deflated pop tart. A rich thick béchamel sauce, for example, is an excellent binder for all kinds of savory fillings. Also, it’s important to brush the edges of only one side of pastry with egg wash or cream so the seams will stick together securely. Brushing both the top and bottom halves will merely cause the pastry to slip and slide.
For my savory pop tart filling, I sautéed about 1/2 cup sliced shiitake mushrooms with a little olive oil, fresh thyme, salt and pepper, hard apple cider, and chicken stock, then added 1/4 cup frozen organic corn, and a tablespoon each chopped fresh parsley and chives. I combined this mixture with the leftover caramelized onion béchamel and 1/4 cup shredded Gruyère cheese. I placed a heaping tablespoon of the filling at the center of 10 pate brisee squares (cut approximately 3 1/2″ x 3 1/2″),
layered on a little julienned black forest ham, brush the edges with heavy cream, then topped each one with another pastry square, sealed the edges and crimped them with a fork.
Each pop tart was brushed with more cream, pierced with a fork to allow steam to vent, and sprinkled with grated parmesan and black pepper.
I baked the pop tarts at 400°F for about 25 mins., until they were golden brown.
Savory Pop Tarts are the kind of “out of the box” pastry worth making!
- 2 Tbsp. Unsalted Butter
- 2 Tbsp. All-Purpose Flour
- 1 cup Whole Milk, slightly warmed
- ½ tsp. Sea or Kosher Salt
- ⅛ tsp. Ground Black Pepper
- Pinch of Ground Nutmeg
On medium low heat, melt the butter in a saucepan and whisk in the flour to form a paste. Stirring constantly, cook the mixture for about two mins., then gradually whisk in the warm milk a little at a time to avoid lumps. Turn the heat back up to medium and continue whisking until the mixture begins to boil. Lower the heat and cook for another three minutes, seasoning with the salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Transfer the thickened sauce into a bowl and press a film of plastic onto the surface to prevent a skin from forming as the sauce cools. Chill the sauce until set to use for filling.