Store-bought pop tarts are decent, but not extraordinary and they always seem a little tough and chewy to me. Additionally, store-bought pop tarts can contain fake food dye and artificial flavors, and if you go organic to avoid fake additives, they're a lot more expensive. Plus you're hard pressed to find vegan pop tarts unless you buy un-frosted tarts. It's less expensive and way tastier, plus a little healthier to make homemade organic pop tarts. These tarts are flaky and light and really easy to make. They're made with whole wheat flour vs. white, contain a healthy apple filling and even have a vegan sugar glaze. My son, who isn't big on sweets, loves these because they're not overly sweetened and one of my friends noted, “These are about the best pastries I ever ate.” You can try these for a dessert or little snack with some fruit on the side. Read on to learn how to make delicious vegan pop tarts, and for several more filling ideas beyond apple cinnamon.
Ingredients to Gather
- 2 cups organic whole wheat pastry flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- About 1 teaspoon salt
- 6 tablespoons organic Earth Balance vegan butter (or other vegan fat, shortening, coconut oil, whatever you like)
- 1/2 cup alternative milk – I use plain almond milk usually, but other types will work
- 3 organic Granny Smith apples – washed, peeled and diced
- 1/3 to 1/2 cup organic white sugar
- 1 and 1/2 tablespoon organic flour
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- Good dash of nutmeg and ginger
- Dash of organic Fair Trade vanilla extract
- *Other filling options below if you don’t like apple
NOTE: This recipe yields around 8 or more tarts, but it really depends on the size of tarts you make.
Step 1: Make the Apple Filling
In a pan or pot on the stove top, combine the apples, sugar, 1 and 1/2 tablespoon flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and vanilla extract. Add 2 tablespoons of water to the pot and cook the mixture on medium heat until your apples are nice and soft. Stir often. Set your filling aside to cool.
Step 2: Blend Your Dough
Combine the flour, baking powder and salt until well mixed. Cut in the butter with a pastry cutter or fork until the flour mixture resembles tiny pea-sized crumbs. Mix in your milk until the dough is just sticking together. If you need more or less milk, it’s OK to adapt. Don’t add too much milk though or you’ll end up with overly sticky dough.
Step 3: Roll and Fold Your Dough
First, using your hands, gather all your dough into a nice ball without kneading. Then roll out your dough into a large square or rectangle. Once you have a good sized rectangle of dough, fold your dough over and over until you can’t fold it anymore (see image above). Then roll it out again, re-fold, re-roll and repeat. You should fold and re-roll your dough about 6 times. This folding and rolling is what gives your tarts a flaky crust. If you don’t fold you’ll end up with a basic pie crust and it won’t be as flaky.
Step 4: Fill Your Tarts
Grab small pieces of dough and roll then cut them into the shapes you want. Be sure you cut two of each shape – one for the bottom and one for the top of your tart. Plain old square tarts are fine but you can also get creative with your cookie cutters and make circles, hearts, tiny holiday designs and more. Place a small dollop of organic apple filling on each bottom crust. Leave room around the filling because you’ll be attaching the top crust next.
Step 5: Assemble & Bake
Place your top crust atop the filling, then using a fork, press all around your tart to attach the bottom and top crusts together. You can also use your fingers vs. a fork but the fork makes the tarts look cute. Be sure your tarts are firmly pressed or your filling will leak out during the baking process. If your dough isn’t sticking together well, dip your fork in a little water or alternative milk as fluid will make the dough stick better. Poke tiny steam vent holes in the top of each tart as shown above. Place tarts on a parchment lined pan and bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes. Watch them if your oven cooks hot, as these bake quickly.
Step 6: Make Your Sugar Glaze
Once your tarts are baked, place them on a cooling rack and then, make some glaze if you’d like. Sugar glaze is an entirely optional, but yummy addition to these tarts. To make an easy sugar glaze, mix a little powdered sugar with a wee bit of soy milk until you have a drizzling consistency. Add more milk or sugar as needed. If you’d like, you can color your glaze with some natural food dye. Once your glaze is made, drizzle it atop your tarts. If you’re not down with glaze, you can also simply sprinkle your tarts with a smidgen of organic white sugar before baking for a bit of sparkle.
Beyond Apple: Other Filling Flavors
Berry Peach: Grab a cup or two of diced peaches, plus whatever berries you have on hand (raspberries, cherries, blackberries, or so on). Cook down in a pot until your peaches are soft. Add a dash of cinnamon, 1/3 cup organic white sugar and a teaspoon or two of organic vanilla extract.
Peach & apricot: Combine about 1 or 2 cups worth of diced organic peaches and a small can of diced apricots with 1/3 cup of brown sugar, a good dash each of cinnamon and nutmeg, 1/3 cup organic white sugar, 1/4 teaspoon of almond extract, and a few tablespoons of cornstarch. Cook your mixture over medium heat until well your peaches are soft and tender.
Blueberry: Put a cup of fresh or frozen organic blueberries with white sugar or agave to taste into a pot. Add a dash of lemon juice. Cook down until soft, but still thick. If your mixture is too watery, it will leak out out (something I learned the hard way) so add a bit of cornstarch or flour to thicken if needed.
Strawberry: Wash a cup or two of fresh organic berries then cook down in a pot until soft, but still thick. If your berries are sweet, no sweetener is needed, but you can add some sugar or agave if needed.
Other ideas: Try different fillings such as leftover pumpkin pie filling, melted dark chocolate, brown sugar with spices or a nut butter. You can fill these with just about anything. Usually, when I make these tarts, my excess fruit reserves dictate what filling I make, though I’ll admit, apple is my favorite so I go out of my way to make it when I can.
Organic Apple Vegan Pop Tart Recipe
- Wash, peel and chop up 3 organic granny smith apples, then place in a pot on the stove top with 1/3 to 1/2 cup organic white sugar, 1 and 1/2 tablespoon organic flour, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, dashes of nutmeg and ginger, a dash of organic Fair Trade vanilla extract and 2 tablespoons of water. Cook until thick. Set filling aside.
- Make your crust by combining flour, baking powder and salt until well mixed. Cut in butter with a pastry cutter until dough resembles pea-sized crumbs. Add milk until the dough is just sticking together.
- Pull your dough into a ball, then roll out into a large rectangle. Fold your dough over until you can’t fold it anymore then roll it out again. Repeat about 6 times.
- Cut out shapes in your dough, place a dollop of apple filling on each bottom crust then attach the top crust and press the sides to close your tarts.
- Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes, cool then drizzle with sugar glaze if you like.
All images by Jennifer Chait