Pop-Tarts were rarely on the table growing up. I lived in what you call an “ingredient household,” where snacks were homemade and rarely pre-packaged. This meant that snack time was cheese and crackers, ants on a log, or peanut butter and jam sandwiches. It also meant that going to a friend’s house for snack time was the ultimate treat. If I was lucky, their cabinets would be overflowing with fruit snacks, salty chips, and Pop-Tarts.
Inspired by the elusive Pop-Tarts of my childhood and my favorite throwback flavor combination of PB&J, these peanut butter and jelly Pop-Tarts bring me right back to my 90s childhood. Sweet and creamy peanut butter and fruity strawberry jam fill individually-sized pastry pockets for a portable snack (or dessert) that you can take on the go.
Even though the official Pop-Tart flavor has been discontinued, you can enjoy this homemade (better!) version whenever you like. Pack them in a lunch box or enjoy as an after-school (or work) snack.
The Right Peanut Butter
For many baking recipes, creamy brands are best, with smooth and consistent textures that combine easily with other ingredients. This is not the time for natural, oil-on-the-top peanut butter. Using creamy peanut butter (like Jif, Skippy, or Peter Pan) is key in this recipe, ensuring no oils leak out of the pastry.
If you want to try using natural nut butter, first stir very well, then consider adding an extra tablespoon of powdered sugar until it becomes a thick paste.
The Right Kind of Jam
Whether you are using jam (smoother) or preserves (chunkier), the most important thing is to use a standard, high-sugar content jam or preserve. The sugar will help the jam retain its structure so it stays in the pastry pocket. Using a lower sugar jam or preserve may result in weeping or seeping out of the pastry.
That being said, use whatever flavor you like best. I love strawberry, cherry, or blueberry preserves.
Tips for Making Dough
This hand pie dough is made with both eggs and butter. Butter provides the necessary fat and flavor, and an egg makes the dough pliable, easy to roll, and adds to the golden brown color.
Here are some handy tips for making perfect pastry dough:
- With any pastry, be sure to use very cold butter; it’s the key to flaky, delicious dough.
- You can make the pastry up to 3 days in advance. Wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and store in the fridge.
- When rolling and cutting out the dough, I use a ruler to ensure it is the perfect size and shape, using a knife or pizza cutter to cut the dough into even rectangles.
- Don’t want rectangular tarts? Get creative with your favorite cookie cutters. Just don’t overfill the little pies.
Take a Shortcut
Don’t feel like making your own dough? No problem! Substitute 3 pieces of pre-made, rolled pie dough to form 9 hand pies. You may have to re-roll some of the pieces to form rectangles.
Hand Pies Galore!
- Peach Frangipane Puff Pastry Tarts
- Cherry Hand Pies
- Apple Turnovers
- Bourbon Peach Hand Pies
Grate the butter:
Grate the cold butter using the biggest holes on a box grater. Transfer to the fridge until ready to use.
Make the crust:
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, powdered sugar, and salt. Add the grated butter, egg, and vanilla extract, using a spatula or spoon to mix.
Use your hands to work the butter into the dough. There should be visible pieces of butter the size of peas. Add the water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the dough comes together and holds together when squeezed.
Divide the dough in half and shape into roughly 6×4-inch rectangles. Wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, or up to 2 days.
Prepare the filling:
In a small bowl, mix together the peanut butter and powdered sugar. Set aside. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Roll out and cut the dough:
Unwrap one rectangle of chilled dough. On a well-floured surface, roll it to a 9×12-inch rectangle, just under 1/4-inch thick. Trim the edges for a clean rectangle.
Cut the dough into 9 rectangles, approximately 3×4 inches. Arrange on the lined baking sheet. Repeat with the other piece of dough, rolling, trimming, and cutting into 9 rectangles. You will use 2 rectangles per Pop-Tart.
Assemble the Pop-Tarts and preheat the oven:
Use a pastry brush to paint the tops of 9 of the rectangles with beaten egg. Place 1 tablespoon of peanut butter filling and 1 tablespoon of jam into the center of the same 9 rectangles. Place a second piece of pastry on top of the filling, lining up the rectangles.
Use a fork to crimp and seal the edges. If you like, you can trim the edges for a cleaner look. Using the fork, poke a few holes on the top to allow steam to escape during cooking. Brush the tops with egg and place in the fridge, uncovered, for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350°F while the pastries chill in the fridge.
Bake until golden, 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool for several minutes on the pan, then transfer to a wire rack until completely cooled.
Make the glaze:
Meanwhile, make the glaze by whisking together the powdered sugar, jam, and lemon juice. While whisking, add milk as needed, 1 tablespoon at a time, until smooth.
Adjust the thickness by adding more milk to thin, or powdered sugar to thicken. It should be thicker than heavy cream, but thin enough to “settle” back into the glaze when whisking. If it is too thin, try adding up to 1/4 cup more powdered sugar.
Glaze the Pop-Tarts:
Drizzle each Pop-Tart with glaze. Sprinkle with chopped peanuts. The glaze will harden after about 1 hour, making them easier to store and transport.
Store the PB&J Pop-Tarts in an airtight container for up to 3 days at room temperature, or 5 days in the fridge.
Love the recipe? Leave us stars and a comment below!