Baked Sunday Mornings: Chocolate Pop Tarts with Peanut Butter and Jam Filling

This week's Baked Sunday Mornings recipe is Chocolate Pop Tarts with Peanut Butter and Jam Filling. You make the dough by cutting frozen butter into the dry ingredients (all-purpose flour, cake flour, cocoa powder, sugar, and salt); adding the liquid ingredients (egg, milk, cream, and vanilla); and mixing until the dough comes together. After a quick knead, you wrap up the dough and chill it; I left mine in the fridge for 24 hours.

I think the name of this dessert is a bit misleading because the filling isn't actually peanut butter and jam. It's peanut butter, chocolate, and jam -- which has a completely different flavor profile. The jam is just straight jam. But the peanut butter-chocolate portion of the filling is essentially a ganache made by pouring hot cream over peanut butter and bittersweet chocolate, with a little vanilla added. I used Callebaut 70.4% chocolate and my mixture thickened immediately and was ready to pipe with no waiting.

I was expecting the chocolate dough to be a nightmare to work with because the recipe instructs you to chill the dough after rolling it out as well as after the pop tarts are assembled but before baking. I did have to use quite a bit of flour to roll out the dough but it was manageable. I was confused by the directions to roll each half of the dough into a 10-inch by 13-inch rectangle and cut it into ten 3-inch by 4-inch rectangles. I just don't see how the geometry makes sense there unless you're counting on having scraps that will be re-rolled. I wanted to avoid that, so I rolled each portion of dough in a rectangle slightly larger than 8-inches tall by 15-inches wide, cutting them into two rows of five rectangles each of the specified size and ending up with essentially no scraps at all.
I was also confused once I started to fill the pop tarts. If you are working with pieces of dough that are three inches by four inches, with a half-inch border all the way around, then your usable space for filling is only two inches by three inches. That's quite small, and I had way too much filing. I put the chocolate-peanut butter filling into a piping bag and piped it onto half of the pieces of dough in a "Z" shape as directed. I used a very generous amount of filling and still had 250 grams (almost half) left over. Then when I tried to pipe the jam on top (I used strawberry balsamic from Stonewall Kitchen), it didn't make sense to pipe it in an inverse Z shape as directed -- or as least as I understood that instruction, which would be to pipe it in a mirror image Z with the top and bottom stroke of the letter directly on top of the peanut butter-chocolate filling. Instead, I piped it in a Z that was rotated 90 degrees. This not only filled up more of the empty space in the pop tart, but also avoided having the two fillings stacked on top of each other and becoming too tall. I also only needed about 3/4 cup of jam, or half what the recipe specifies.

The filling layer still ended up being quite tall in my pop tarts and it was challenging to affix the top pieces of dough and crimp the pop tarts shut. I poked vents in the top of each pop tart before chilling them and baking. While they were in the oven, most ended up leaking jam out of the sides. Fortunately, the frosting (powdered sugar, cocoa powder, milk, vanilla, and softened butter) hid any defects. Although I also had an absurd amount of frosting and ended up with about half of it leftover (and I thought I had slathered it on quite generously). Instead of chocolate sprinkles, I topped off my pop tarts with Valrhona crunchy pearls.

As you can probably tell from the tone of this post so far, I found the process of making this recipe quite aggravating -- the directions in several places didn't seem to make much sense and it produced excessive amounts of filling and frosting. All sins would have been forgiven if the pastries tasted good -- but they were very disappointing. I will add the caveat that I served the pop tarts about 20 hours after baking, so I didn't serve them right away as recommended. It's quite possible that they would have tasted better if they were eaten immediately. But at the time I served them, the chocolate pastry was soft (I think this is intentional, as the headnote describes it as having "almost the texture of soft sugar cookies") and had very little flavor. I didn't like the filling. It was essentially just chocolate and peanut butter; you couldn't taste the strawberry jam at all. Especially in light of all of the time and effort required, I don't think this recipe was worth it.

Recipe: "Chocolate Pop Tarts with Peanut Butter and Jam Filling" from Baked Occasions by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito, recipe available here at Baked Sunday Mornings.

Previous Post: "Pop Goes the Pop Tart: Homemade Pop-Tarts," August 8, 2011.


Anonymous said…
I liked them okay, but I had many of the same frustrations! I wish I'd had the chance to test this recipe, as I would have had some good suggestions, such as dividing the dough into two pieces before chilling, adjusting the quantities (though I had the opposite problem as you at some points), etc. Oh well, it was a good effort!
Katrina Lexa said…
I agree with you 100% about the extra fillings and the unclear "Z" directions. I also understood them to mean a mirror image Z, and only corrected myself to a rotated Z after realizing how little that made sense while I looked down at what I'd just done....

I'm not sure how much flavor the pastry itself actually had, now that I think about it more carefully.... it might have been the blueberry jam and almond butter ganache imparting the flavor I enjoyed, while the pastry just provided a vehicle for eating the filling.