In Which Failures Turn to Valentines

Oh, Valentine, Get in my Mouth!

I’ve failed a lot this month.  I think of this today, because yesterday I was really, really, REALLY frustrated. Like almost ready to quit frustrated.  This ice is starting to get me down; everything is twice as hard as usual in this weather and it bums me out even more to know that before it gets better, it’s going to get worse. But, I have mouths to feed so I pick myself up, scrape off the mud and trudge out there for another go.

I’m a believer in the character building value of a Big Fat Failure.  I see no shame in it, rather I applaud the attempt.  Something you never knew you needed:  a little guidance from Seth Godin about failure here. If you’re going to do it, you may as well do it right, don’t you think?

One of my big screw ups last year involved strawberry jam.  Lots of it.  Ironically, one of the highlights of my year was also strawberry jam.  Again, lots of it.

My favorite berries are from a nearby Amish pick your own farm. So, I’d get up early and head over there after chores and pick my own berries.  Then the three-day process of making the jam began immediately to preserve the freshness of the berries.

You’ll have to take my word for it, but these preserves were worth every back-breaking minute.  They were my Mona Lisa.

In my excitement over my preserves and my new Auburn Meadow Farm jars & labels, I decided to re-pot my best jam in the new jars.  Fast forward to the story of the Overcooked Rubber Strawberry Jam.

Now, being a farm focused on making the most from the least, I couldn’t bring myself to throw this rubber stuff away. In classic lemon to lemonade fashion, I now bring you homemade strawberry chocolate Pop-Tarts!

These tasty treats are a triple threat:

  1. Who doesn’t like chocolate with fruit?
  2. The novelty of homemade Pop-Tarts is fun & memorable
  3. This pastry is tender perfection -a truly special treat

I’ve used this dough recipe in regular tarts also and it is really tender, tasty and easy to handle. And, it works equally well for both sweet and savory.  My mind is revving with savory Pop-Tart options, but I still haven’t cracked the savory glaze code.  Suggestions anyone?

I’m sending you over to Smitten Kitchen for the perfect step-by-step photo tutorial of hardcore Pop-Tart making, but don’t forget to come right back.

The filling I used was actually pretty unscientific – I took my rubbery strawberry jam, warmed it in the microwave and mixed in Nutella until I really liked it. You’re probably using properly set jam; I would follow Smitten Kitchen’s instructions to add some corn starch & water, then add the Nutella.

The only improvement I can contribute to the Smitten Kitchen version is a perfect glaze recipe. You may not agree, but for me, an unglazed Pop-Tart isn’t worth eating.  And, the glaze needs to be a hardened shell, not soft icing.

Glaze Makes it Great!

This recipe for basic sugar glaze is from Tish Boyle’s The Good Cookie. It isn’t as rock hard as a commercial Pop–Tart’s and probably won’t stand up to toasting but the gently crisp shell is just perfect and doesn’t make the Pop-Tart pastry soften.  Trust me, you won’t miss the toasting one bit.

  • 1 cup confectioner’s sugar, sifted
  • 1 TBS unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 TBS heavy cream ( ½ & ½ works fine)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt

In the bowl of an electric mixer, using the paddle attachment (don’t worry if you don’t have one), beat the confectioner’s sugar, butter, heavy cream, vanilla extract, and salt at medium speed just until combined, about 30 seconds.  Cover the surface of the glaze with plastic wrap and set aside at room temperature until ready to use.

Store glaze in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days; bring to room temperature before using. Makes 1/2 cup. (It’s really good on oatmeal raisin cookies too.)

While the Pop-Tarts are still warm, brush with the glaze several times, allowing each coat to set before adding the next.

Failure turned sweet success!

Strawberry: The Official Fruit of Valentine's Day

4 thoughts on “In Which Failures Turn to Valentines

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