I always try my hardest to do something special for Mother’s Day; it’s a weak attempt at apologizing for all the years of fussiness, rebellion and bratty moments I put my mother through as a child. (It really is the least I can do.) Mother’s Day is also a great opportunity for brunching: my absolute favorite! This year I broke out the pastry dough and shaped it into little rectangle pockets, filling them with an herbaceous mixture of thyme and sweet strawberries. The crust is flakey, buttery and it pairs so nicely with the tart and sweet filling. We’re going to go ahead and call these things pop tarts so we can have them for breakfast, but we all know they’re just little hand pies.
Strawberry and Thyme Tarts
Yields 6 pop tarts
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons white granulated sugar
1 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
1 1/2 sticks (6 ounces) unsalted butter, very cold
1 large egg
1/4 cups whole milk, plus 1 tablespoon, divided
1/4 cup strawberry jam
1 teaspoon corn starch
1 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
3-4 small strawberries, diced (about 3 ounces)
2 1/2 teaspoons thyme leaves (from 3-4 sprigs)
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Pinch of salt
1 large egg, beaten
Splash of milk
1. In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients: flour, sugar and salt. Using a box grater, grate the cold butter atop the flour mixture. Working quickly, and using your hands, break the butter bits into the flour until they’re evenly distributed and resemble the size of small peas. Beat together the egg and 1/4 cup whole milk and add it to the flour mixture. Mix the dough together until it begins to clump together; if the dough doesn’t hold together, add an extra tablespoon or two of milk.
2. Dump the dough onto a lightly floured counter. Knead the dough a few times until it comes together and shape it into a mound. Divide the dough into two discs. Wrap both discs in plastic wrap and transfer them to the refrigerator to chill for 1 hour or overnight.
3. While the dough is chilling, turn your attention to the filling. To a small saucepan, mix together the strawberry jam, corn starch and lemon juice. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook for 3-4 minutes. Next, add the strawberries, thyme leaves, pepper and salt. Cook for an additional 5 minutes. Take off the heat and transfer it to a small bowl to cool.
4. Remove the first dough disc from the refrigerator. Heavily flour your work surface and rolling pin. Roll out the dough (being sure to rotate it every so often to avoid it from sticking) until it reaches a 1/8-inch thickness. Cut the dough into one 9-inch x 12-inch rectangle. Using a ruler for assistance, cut up the large rectangle into six-3 x 4-inch smaller rectangles. Repeat this process with the second disc of dough. You should end up with 12 rectangles of the same size. Note: If they’re not perfect, not to worry, we can trim them later.
5. Transfer 6 of the rectangles to a parchment-lined baking sheet. To assemble the pop tarts, brush the egg wash over the entire surface of the dough. Place a tablespoon of filling onto the center of each dough rectangle. Place the second sheet atop the dough, and using the tines of a fork, press the dough’s edges to seal the sides. If the pop tarts’ sides are bit uneven, use a knife to trim up the pop tarts to make them look pretty and even. Score the tops of the pop tarts with the tines of a fork so steam is able to escape.
6. Transfer the baking sheet to the refrigerator to chill for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Right before they go in the oven, brush the tops of the tarts with egg wash and sprinkle them with turbinado sugar. Bake the pop tarts for 20-25 minutes, or until medium golden brown. Serve warm or room temperature.
All photos by Adrianna Adarme.