The cereal and breakfast treat aisle was always my favorite place to be when I was a kid. Shelves of boxes with happy, animated mascots and bright colors, never failed to work their marketing magic on my brain. The fact that most of them came with a prize only made them more appealing.
Most of the time I would ask for boxed, fruit-filled, iced pastries or a sugary cereal and instead we would leave the grocery store with a healthier breakfast option like shredded wheat or granola bars. There were occasions where my parents would allow me to pick something special, like my birthday or first day of school. Pop-Tarts were usually my pick.
When I was little, I was patient enough to toast them and, at the time, one was enough. In high school, though, I was usually pressed for time and would grab a foil wrapped pack of two straight from the box and eat both on my way to school. Since then, the variety of Pop-Tarts has increased incredibly; you can now find flavors like S’mores, ones with blue and purple icing, and even a low-fat line. Despite all of the options, I still have a soft spot in my heart for the originals, like brown sugar-cinnamon, strawberry, and cherry.
This week marks the start of the school year for most kids. Their alarms will go off a little early (or for the first time since last school year ended) and they’ll be donning their new wardrobe or freshly pressed uniform. Before they head out the door with a new back pack full of sharpened pencils and unused crayons, give them a special treat to commemorate their new year.
Brown Sugar-Cinnamon Breakfast Pastries
Adapted from Bon Appétit
2 cups and 2 Tablespoons all purpose flour, plus additional for shaping and rolling
1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
4 tablespoons ice water
½ cup brown sugar
2 Tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
2 Tablespoons cinnamon
Sift together flour, salt and sugar into a large bowl. Add to food processor with butter and process until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. With processor still running, add ice water one tablespoon at a time until mixture comes together into a ball of dough. Remove and separate into two balls and wrap tightly with plastic wrap; refrigerate for one hour. In the meantime preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and whisk together brown sugar, confectioners’ sugar and cinnamon. On a lightly floured surface roll one ball into a rectangle at least 10” x 12”; cut into 9 smaller rectangles, each measuring 3” x 3.5” and place on a baking sheet sprayed with non-stick spray or lined with a non-stick mat. Place 1 tablespoon of brown sugar mixture in center of each rectangle. Repeat rolling, measuring, and cutting process with second ball of dough. Place rectangles firmly over ones on baking sheet and firmly press the edges down with a fork. Gently poke four or five series of holes in the top of each pastry. Place in oven for 25 minutes, turning halfway midway through. Cool on sheet on baking rack.
Food processor dough is the way to go when making baked goods. It takes very little time to come together and avoids a big, floury mess in your kitchen. Even after an hour of refrigeration the dough is extremely workable, almost to the point that it requires some care during the rolling process. The brown sugar and cinnamon mixture melts in the center of each pastry during the baking process as the dough turns golden brown. Once baked, each breakfast treat is crispy and resembles the original, only better. Other combinations work well in the center, too, like Nutella and preserves. If you do decide to use the latter, make sure to be conservative with the amount placed in the center; too much and it could ooze out of the pastry, making a big mess.
Though not entirely healthy, the homemade breakfast pastries would be a great start to a first day of school. They’re even good enough to be a great surprise treat for an after-school snack. With the endless combination of fillings, you can please even your pickiest child and potentially steer them away from the breakfast treat aisle, once and for all.