My son is crazy for toaster tarts and I’m sad to say all of my children have indulged in the store bought kind at one time or another. They were a store bought junk food that did not often make it into my home when I was a child. Since I have five siblings, when my mom did buy them on occasion, we each ate only one. She’s a smart one, my mom!
I have mentioned my family’s picky eating gene before. When my son began his picky eating stage as a toddler, organic toaster tarts became an option for difficult mornings. Yes, I know organic toaster tarts!?! They were lower in sugar than regular and they were a reliable last resort on days he refused to eat.
Note: Refusing to eat is a reason to have your child evaluated by the pediatrician. This was one symptom in several that ultimately led to a medical diagnosis for my son that took eight years and three years of genetic testing to understand. He eats much better these days!
I don’t buy the store bought kind anymore, but yesterday my son asked me to make the homemade kind for him. I have made them before, but he didn’t care for the fruit preserves I used as a filling, and the crust tended to break easily. So, at his special request, I made chocolate mint toaster tarts with green glaze (his favorite color is green).
For the crust, I modified a pie crust by adding some cream cheese for stability (like the dough in a southern pecan tassie). The filling is a simple brown sugar filling, with the mint flavor added to the glaze.
He gave them a thumbs up and agreed they taste better than they look!
Cocoa Mint Toaster Tarts
1 1/4 cups unbleached all purpose flour or pastry flour
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
3 ounces softened cream cheese or Neufchatel cheese
2-3 tablespoons cold water or coffee
3 additional tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces and re-chilled
1 beaten egg, for sealing the pastry
For the Filling:
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon unbleached-all purpose flour
For the Glaze:
1 tablespoon milk or water (warmed with several mint leaves steeped in it)
1/2 cup powdered sugar
tiny drop green food color, if desired
Sift or stir together flour, cocoa powder and salt, set aside. Cream the butter, cream cheese and sugar. Mix in the flour, cocoa powder and salt, stirring until it is well combined and the mixture looks like sand.
Add 2-3 tablespoons cold water or coffee, one tablespoon at a time and stir just until mixture comes together. Turn out onto lightly floured surface and knead just a few times, until you can form your dough into a cohesive 2 inch thick rectangle. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
I tested this dough after chilling it, by taking a small piece and flattening it and baking in the oven. I wasn’t fond of the texture, a little chewy, and it didn’t puff up like I wanted it too. I decided to try “puffing it up” by adding butter to the dough as you would a puff pastry. Worked like a charm! Light, puffy, not too crumbly and held together well after baking.
Mix the filling, by simply stirring the brown sugar, flour and salt together in a small bowl.
After chilling, incorporate the additional 3 tablespoons of butter as in my Puff Pastry Recipe, turning, rolling and re-chilling as called for. After the last chill, remove the dough from the refrigerator and preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line baking sheet with parchment.
When the dough has warmed enough to work, divide it into 4 pieces. Roll each piece out out on a lightly floured surface to a square shape about 1/4 inch thickness. Cut in half vertically and horizontally so that you get 4 squares from each piece.
Take care not to smoosh the edges of the pastry as you roll it out, roll just to the edges without going over. This will keep the layers from compressing so they rise in the oven.
Use a pastry brush, or your finger, to go around the outside of the bottom pastry pieces with your beaten egg. Place a tablespoon of the brown sugar filling in the middle of the pastry, place a top piece on each one and seal by pressing the edges together with a fork. Pierce the top to let steam escape. You will get 8 pastries total.
Bake in preheated oven for 7 to 9 minutes, remove before edges get too browned. Let cool completely before glazing.
I was out of mint extract, so I pinched some mint leaves from my garden to add the mint flavor to the glaze. If you are trying to avoid artificial colors, try adding a pinch of green tea powder or green juice to your glaze.
To mix the glaze, steep some mint leaves in warm milk or water for a few minutes, crushing the leaves with a spoon to release the oils. Add the powdered sugar and drop of green color and a pinch of salt, if needed. You could also substitute 1/4 teaspoon of mint extract, or some crushed mint candies.
Let the glaze set before storing these tarts. These get soft if stored in an airtight container so they are best eaten fresh, or wrapped in parchment and stored in the freezer.
My son and I both had one of these for breakfast this morning. After having tested them with and without the glaze, we disagreed over the need for glaze. I think they are plenty sweet on their own and really don’t need a glaze while my son insists on a layer of sweet green sugar!
When I make these again, I will make some with and some without glaze. To add mint flavor to the unglazed tarts, I’ll finely chop some fresh mint and add it to the brown sugar filling mixture.