|Nutella toaster pastries|
For example, I've been cooking along each month with Grow It Cook It Can It's Cook It 2012 challenge, in which each month we're challenged to create a pantry staple and then use it in a recipe.
Additionally, I recently joined the Secret Recipe Club, which means I get to pick and cook a recipe from another blogger each month.
So when the From Scratch Club announced that its revamped virtual book club would be not only reading and discussing but also cooking from Alana Chernila's Homemade Pantry: 101 Foods You Can Stop Buying & Start Making, I knew I was up for it.
This book is cleverly divided into chapters based on supermarket aisles: dairy, cereals and snacks, canned items, condiments, soups, baking needs, frozen foods, pasta, breads and crackers, drinks and candy and sweets. Each chapter includes a few recipes for making your own version of things normally found in those aisles. Every two weeks, the FSC book clubbers read two chapters and are encouraged to test out one of the recipes (member's choice).
This is the first "meeting", so we are focusing on dairy and cereal and snacks.
For me, I found quite a few of the same (or similar) recipes that we've been tackling in the Cook It 2012 challenge in these first chapters (ricotta cheese, butter and buttermilk) or that I've already made on my own (cereal bars).
But I haven't made toaster pastries.
(Which I guess we can't call pop tarts without some kind of trademark infringement, right?)
And certainly not Nutella-filled toaster pastries!
Alana's recipe starts with making your own pie crust (from Aisle 6, so this is a twofer!). I was very intrigued and hopeful about her crust recipe because it calls for using a stand mixer to blend the butter and flour mixture; normally I do this with my fingers and it's damned tedious, albeit a good arm workout. I can happily report that it works!
Additionally, Alana's recipe calls for cutting the dough into rectangles (a la poptarts) but I had just gotten a huge set of fun round pastry cutters so I decided to make mine circular instead.
Result? A bit time-consuming (if you made the dough in advance it would be less so -- or you could just "cheat" and use refrigerated dough, but that wouldn't support the purpose of the book very well!!!) but very, very delicious. The dough was flaky and buttery and puffed up nicely -- and the Nutella filling was perfect: not too runny or gooey.
As if you needed more convincing, they tasted a whole lot like the pan au chocolat that I had for breakfast each morning on our trip to Paris this year.
Moreover, Alana suggests making these with savory fillings as well (ricotta cheese, pesto), which would be really lovely as an accompaniment with a nice bowl of soup, don't you think?
I'll be posting more of my recipe attempts as part of the FSC book club, so be sure to check back.
Until then, enjoy the poptarts ... I mean, toaster pastries!
Nutella Toaster Pastries (adapted from Alana Chernila's Homemade Pantry)
Ingredients for the crust:
14 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small squares
2 1/4 cups flour
2 teaspoons vodka or apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
Directions for the crust:
Toss the butter chunks and flour in the bowl of a stand mixer. Place into freezer for 10 minutes.
In a small measuring cup or bowl, combine the vodka (or vinegar) and the salt with 1/3 cup of cold water. Stir rapidly until salt dissolves, then put bowl in the freezer for 10 minutes as well.
Remove the mixer bowl from the freezer and beat the mixture on low speed (shield it a little in case some of the flour wants to fly out initially) until it resembles coarse meal and butter pieces are only about pea-sized. Add the liquid mixture (from the freezer) and mix until the dough comes together in a ball.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide it into two equal portions. Flatten each into a disc, wrap in wax paper and refrigerate for at least two hours.
Ingredients for the pastries:
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon of water (to make a wash)
Jar of Nutella
Directions for the pastries:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Roll one disc of dough into a large circle or rectangle, a little less than 1/4-inch thick. Using a round pastry cutter (mine was 3.5 inches), biscuit cutter or drinking glass, cut dough into as many circles as you can, re-rolling the dough scraps as necessary. Lay the circles on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Onto each circle dollop a blob of Nutella. I know this is not very specific, but it will depend on the size of your circles. For my 3.5-inch circles, I used a heaping tablespoon but I could have added quite a bit more -- be generous!
Roll out the second disc of dough and cut out circles as before (make sure you end up with the same number of circles). Lay this second set of circles on top of the first, Nutella-covered set. Using a fork, press the edges together and poke a few holes in the center of each pastry.
Generously brush the egg wash over all the pastries and pop them into the oven for about 25-30 minutes or until they are golden and look sufficiently yummy to you. The filling will be hot so be sure to cool them a bit on a wire rack before eating.
PS: According to Alana, you can freeze the unbaked pastries, in a single layer on a baking sheet, then store them in a freezer-safe container and remove one by one (or by the boatload) to bake as needed.