Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Apple Butter Poptarts with Maple Glaze and Toasted Pecans

The Setting: Casa de mi madre.

The Soundtrack: "Milk! Milk! Up! Up!" and other baby babbles.

Steaming up the Oven: Nothing yet.

The Scenario: It's beginning to look a lot like breakfast.

In the event you're looking for something special to serve up Christmas morning, here's a festive spin on a childhood favorite, sure to please young and old alike.

With a light, flaky, butter crust, a filling made of spiced apple butter, cream cheese, and pecans, and a sweet maple glaze, these homemade poptarts are happy holidays in a pretty, pastry package.

Apple Butter Poptarts
1 recipe Butter Crust dough (using whole-wheat pastry flour, if desired)
1 cup apple butter
2 oz cream cheese
1/2 cup pecan halves
2 tsp cornstarch

~for the maple glaze~
1 T butter
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2/3 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup chopped pecans, for garnish

Place the apple butter, cream cheese, pecan halves, and cornstarch in a food processor and process till completely smooth. Set aside. The filling can be made up to a week in advance and stored in an airtight container in the fridge until 30 minutes before use. Excess filling can be added to oatmeal or used as a filling for stuffed French toast.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Roll out the dough to a thickness of about 1/8-inch. Use a pizza cutter to trim the dough into a rectangle, using a ruler or tape measure to help divide into even, 2x3-inch rectangles.

Spread a heaping tablespoon of filling over half of the rectangles, leaving a 1/4-inch border.

Place a naked rectangle on top of each filled rectangle.

Use the tines of a fork to crimp and seal the edges.

Poke a few rows of holes in the tops of the tarts with the fork to create a steam release.

Re-roll and repeat with dough scraps.

Carefully transfer the tarts to a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees F for 17 minutes or baked through and just golden around the edges.

Let cool a minute or two on the baking sheet; then carefully transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely. Tarts may be prepared ahead of time up to this point and frozen for up to one month if desired. Before freezing, wrap very well in plastic wrap and then aluminum foil. To defrost, leave out at room temperature, still wrapped, for 3-4 hours or until thawed.

Toast the chopped pecans in a dry skillet over medium heat just until fragrant, being careful not to burn. Set aside.

To prepare the glaze, melt the butter in a microwave-safe bowl or Pyrex measuring cup. Whisk in the remaining ingredients until smooth. Use a spoon to spread the glaze over the tarts, sprinkling each tart with the toasted pecans as you go (if you wait until they are all glazed, the pecans won't adhere as well). To reduce mess, you can place the cooling rack over a sheet of aluminum foil or the baking sheet lined with parchment before glazing.

Let the glaze set for a few minutes before trying to stack or layer on a platter.

Store leftovers tightly wrapped at room temperature. Best consumed within two days, with a room full of loved ones and a side of holiday cheer.

Makes about 12 breakfast pastries.

Note: For another festive alternative, make Pumpkin Pecan Poptarts by swapping out the apple butter with 1 cup pumpkin puree, plus 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1 tsp cinnamon, and 1/4 tsp 5-spice powder (optional).

Thanks for reading! Here's to Being the Secret Ingredient in your life.

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