Oh yes, I did.
Before today, Now & Later Pop-Tarts were not a thing, but now they are. All thanks to ME.
Well, me and Now & Later. Because it's thanks to a box of these sweet candies that arrived at my door that these sweet treats now exist.
OMG. Did you love Now & Later candies as much as I did growing up? They were actually my cool older sister's favored candy, and as a result, they seemed to be the most impossibly cool and grown-up foodstuff I could possibly think of. They've always tasted like aspiration and joy to me. And sweet and sour goodness, of course.
To say that I'm proud of this recipe would be a vast understatement. Yes, they're funny and clever and feature pop culture candy and pastry icons in one mashup. But beyond that, these things actually taste good. Melted down with butter, the taffy-like candy becomes soft and creamy, and the flavor is the perfect sweet-tart complement to a rich, flaky homemade pastry dough. The creamy icing is pretty as a picture when studded with sprinkles and a little extra candy for good measure.
For the pastry
- 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 stick butter, cut into small pieces, very cold
- 1 stick butter, cut into large cubes, very cold
- 1/2 cup ice water
For the filling
- 6 packages (6 candies each) strawberry Now & Later candies
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 cups confectioners' sugar
- 2-3 tablespoons milk or cream
- 6 Strawberry Now & Later candies, cut into small pieces
Make the pastry. In a large bowl, combine the flour, salt, and the small pieces of butter. Combine using a pastry mixer until the butter and flour mixture resembles a meal, and no pieces are larger than the size of a pea.
Add in the rest of the butter (the bigger pieces). Coat with flour, and then squeeze each piece so that it is flat. Weird, I know, but trust me, it makes a great crust.
Add the ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time, mixing until the dough comes together. It won't be totally wet; just add water until you can easily clump the dough.
Divide the dough in two equal parts, and form each portion into a rectangle. Wrap with plastic, and refrigerate for several hours.
Once you're ready to get going, it's time to make the filling. In a double boiler, melt the candy and the butter over low heat. The low heat helps the mixture melt and remain cohesive as the candy melts. Once melted, set to the side. Stir every few minutes to make sure it doesn't separate while you work on the next steps.
Working with one portion of dough at a time, roll the dough into a rectangle shape. Cut off the corners with a sharp knife or pizza cutter so that you have an approximately 12 by 10 inch rectangle.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone.
Cut the dough into 8 equal portions. Repeat with the second round of dough. Now, you'll have 16 rectangles. Place half of the rectangles on the prepared baking sheet; keep the other ones close by as they will be the tops of the tarts.
Spoon the filling in the center of half of the rectangles. Don't spread it all the way to the edges.
Brush the uncovered edges with your egg wash mixture. This will help the top portion stick.
Place the second rectangle of dough bookmarked to match up with each piece, and press firmly (to create a seal). Really be sure that you've made a seal, as the candy can leak if you don't. Enforce that seal by pressing the edges with the tines of a fork; poke the tops of the pastries with the tines of a fork a few times to create a release valve for any steam while the tarts bake.
Place the tarts in the fridge for about 30 minutes; this will help the filling set a little so it doesn't "bleed" too much during baking.
Near the end of the chilling period, preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Bake in your preheated oven for 8-12 minutes, or until just lightly browned.
If you find that a few of the pastries have leaked candy, don't panic. Some "bleeding" is fine; even if it looks like a lot, the pastries are probably nicely filled--mine leaked filling, and it looked like a lot, but it actually wasn't much at all. But I was really glad I lined the tray with a silicone mat, because it made cleanup so much easier. Once the pastry is browned to your liking, remove from the oven and let cool for 15 minutes or so on a wire rack.
Make the icing. In a bowl, sift the sugar; stir in the cream or milk until it reaches a glaze-like consistency. Drizzle on top of each of the tarts. Immediately sprinkle each one with sprinkles and the cut-up candy.
Let the icing set, then enjoy.