St. Valentine’s Day Pop Tarts—something for the kid in all of us


The rose is red, the violet’s blue,
The honey’s sweet, and so are you.
Thou art my love and I am thine;
I drew thee to my Valentine:
The lot was cast and then I drew,
And Fortune said it shou’d be you.
—English nursery rhyme, Gammer Gurton’s Garland (1784)

Love is in the air as St. Valentine’s Day is approaching (on Thursday) 🙂 The history of this holiday and it’s origins is rooted in the martyrology of Valentine, who was said to have illegally performed weddings to soldiers who were forbidden to marry and for ministering to Christians who were persecuted during the Roman Empire. Then, by the time of Geoffrey Chaucer (known as the “Father of English Literature“) in the High Middle Ages, Valentine’s Day became a day to celebrate romantic love full of flowers, sweets, and valentine cards. 

For me and my family, it is usually just like any other day, though we are especially appreciative of the love that holds our family together. We may wear red clothing to symbolize the day, but it’s not so much of a celebration. We love each other everyday! For my husband and I, we cook dinner together and eat a nice meal by candlelight. Our dog gets a special meal as well!

I guess, for the most part, Valentine’s Day brings me back to my childhood. Do you remember getting lots of cards and sweets at school on this day? Those were fond memories–making card and treat packages, passing them out to classmates and then receiving some as well. At school, you never felt left out on Valentine’s day! I never did 🙂 For this Valentine’s Day, I decided to try to make something to celebrate those fond childhood memories as well as the love that is central on this holiday…so….here are St. Valentine’s Day Pop Tarts, a treat for the kid that’s in all of us.

The reluctance to put away childish things may be a requirement of genius.  ~Rebecca Pepper Sinkler, “Confessions of a Former Child,” The New York Times (1998)

I am often accused of being childish.  I prefer to interpret that as child-like.  I still get wildly enthusiastic about little things.  I tend to exaggerate and fantasize and embellish.  I still listen to instinctual urges.  I play with leaves.  I skip down the street and run against the wind.  I never water my garden without soaking myself.  It has been after such times of joy that I have achieved my greatest creativity and produced my best work. ~Leo F. Buscaglia, Bus 9 to Paradise (1987)

So, like a forgotten fire, a childhood can always flare up again within us.  ~Gaston Bachelard, The Poetics of Reverie (1960) 

Do you have memories of Pop Tarts (or something similar) as a kid? What was (or is) your favorite flavor? While I was growing up, Pop Tarts were more often a snack after school rather than a breakfast food. My favorite part of Pop Tarts was the crust. I didn’t care much for the filling or frosting, just the crusty edges. Sometimes my husband gets the Trader Joe’s version of Pop Tarts. From reading my blog, you can probably tell that we are regular shoppers at Trader Joe’s for our groceries.


 For these homemade Pop Tarts, I wanted to go gluten-free. A couple of weeks ago I discovered gluten-free all purpose flour at Trader Joe’s, so I decided to test it out here from a recipe adapted from King Arthur Flour. The flour mixes nicely with the butter to make pea-sized clumps. I used a pastry blender, though you can do this by hand or with a food processor.


Here is the pastry dough after mixing in the flax-egg substitute and milk. It’s a nice soft dough.


The dough after chilling in the fridge for a day.


Heart-shaped tarts in the making!


This dough is more fragile than regular pastry or pie dough, so I had to sprinkle some flour over the rolled our dough and use a dough scraper to lift each pastry heart.


It takes two baby…two to make one tart 😀 One side with filling (good quality strawberry jam-no added fillers or extra sugar) and the other brushed with milk.


Put them together and seal the edges. Use the trusty dough scraper to lift it onto a parchment-lined baking sheet.


I also tested out this Pop Tart Press from Williams-Sonoma.


You get nice, even Pop Tart shapes using this gadget. For these, I used Nutella and strawberry jam as fillings.


Don’t use this side of the toaster press to seal–it’s the wrong side.


This is the right side to use–makes a nice seal. This pastry recipe was enough to make 5 normal sized pop tarts and 7 heart sized (3-inch cutter) tarts. For the Nutella-filled tarts, I think I will thin the filling next time with a little milk so it is not as thick, though they still tasted very good. Before going in the oven, I brushed each tart with milk. You can also use an egg wash to get a nice shine. I wanted a rustic look so I used milk.


The rustic look. Delicious none the less.

Gluten-free Pop Tarts

adapted from King Arthur Flour

Yield:  ~ 7 small heart tarts and 5 rectangular pop tarts


  • 2 cups Trader Joe’s Gluten-Free Flour (for non-GF, use unbleached All-Purpose)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (8 ounces or 2 sticks) unsalted butter, ice-cold and cut into small pieces
  • 1 large egg, beaten (or one flax-egg: 1 tablespoon ground flax mixed in 2 tablespoon water)
  • 2 tablespoons (1 ounce) milk (dairy, almond, hemp, etc.)
  • Extra milk for sealing the tarts, about 1/4 cup


  • Jam, pie filling (such as pumpkin, apple, sweet potato),  nutella or cookie butter (thinned down with a little milk), cheesecake filling, etc.
  1. Dough:  In a large bowl, whisk together the gluten-free flour, sugar, and salt. Using your hands or a pastry blender, work in the butter until the dough is crumbly and there are pea-sized clumps of butter. Gently mix in the egg and the milk until the dough comes together and the dough is moistened. Divide the dough in two pieces and shape it into a disc. Wrap with dough discs with cling film and chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes or up to 2 days.
  2. Assembly:   On a floured surface or on a silicone mat, roll out one portion of dough at a time to a thickness of 1/8 inch. Cut out into desired shapes and set aside. Repeat for the other portion of dough. Take one shaped piece of dough and place some filling in the center, making sure not to overstuff.  On another shaped piece of dough, brush the surface with milk so it will act as a glue for the tarts then place it atop the piece of dough with the filling. Use your fingers and press on the edges to seal the tart. Place on a greased or parchment-lined baking sheet. Repeat for the other shaped pieces of dough. Leave 1 inch between each tart. Let the tarts chill and rest on the baking sheet in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.
  3. Bake:  While the tarts are resting, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. When the tarts are finished resting, brush the tops of each tart with milk. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on the pan for 1 hour or until still a touch warm. With a spatula, place the tarts on a wire rack to continue to cool. Enjoy!


These tarts were very flaky. If you like flaky pastry, this is a tasty gluten-free alternative. My husband said that they are better than store-bought Pop Tarts. We tend to think that most things homemade are better than store bought. Glad that these homemade Pop Tarts were a winner! It really satisfied the “kid” in me, brought me back to fun times in my childhood, and put me in the Valentine spirit. I hope you enjoy them as well!

18 thoughts on “St. Valentine’s Day Pop Tarts—something for the kid in all of us

  1. I like the pock-a-doted plate your tarts are on. these remind me of my childhood. Thanks for sharing. Thanks Samantha also for viewing my blog. I appreciate your comments and readership.

    Your always cooking up cool things!! 🙂 I am looking forward to the next Food Flavor Fascination.

    Chef Randall

  2. Pingback: Valentine’s Day Recipes – if you are going to have a romantic evening at home | Chocolate Spoon & The Camera

  3. Pingback: Recipe: Pop Tart Trifle » delicious food recipe

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