a bit of nostalgia | vegan pumpkin chai “poptarts”

after a busy day in the kitchen, started early with bread baking, i am calmed by the hum of the oven roasting and the warm smell of cinnamon escaping the pot where the apples simmer. my fingers are tense and tired, pink and cracked from over-washing. the muscles between my shoulder blades are letting me know that they worked hard today, with kneading and rolling and chopping. the arches of my feet are sore, likely flatter now than they were upon awakening, as i tend to walk and stand on the inner halves of my feet. today was warm – too warm for a mid-october day; there is a hurricane on its way, warning us with the humidity and large gusts of wind throughout the day.

my relationship with bread-making is a complicated one, at best. when we don’t get along, we really do not get along – as i was reminded earlier on this week with a loaf of bread more suited to being a “brick” in a wall. today i was afraid i’d stumbled across the same problem, but i was pleasantly surprised when i cautiously cut into the loaf to still find little nooks and crannies within the slices, promising a little fluffiness. i went for an artisan styled loaf this time, bored of the conventional sandwich bread style. while it certainly isn’t picture perfect, it was made with patience and care.

the recipe i’m sharing with you today is much less fussy than a loaf of bread, but when you serve it to your loved ones it will show a certain attention to detail. the piece of paper i am reading from, carelessly ripped from a standard notepad, is barely legible – showing one of my kitchen flaws; i tend to allow myself to get overwhelmed in some very certain cases in the cooking process. yeast-proofing still gives me flutters in my belly, and working with pastry crust stresses me out and i tend to work too quickly.

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these tarts are a nostalgic one – mimicking the child-loved pop tart, made pure with whole grain flours, coconut oil, pumpkin puree and the tiniest touch of natural sweeteners. here i made a pumpkin pie flavoured filling, but any of your favorite pie fillings will do – apple, blueberry, sweet potato – let your imagination run!

Mini Vegan Pumpkin Chai “Pop Tarts”
(inspired by Minimalist Baker, pie crust adapted from Gena Hamshaw)

Crust

  • 1 cup spelt flour (can sub. whole wheat)
  • 1 1/4 cup unbleached all purpose
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil, chilled
  • 1/4-1/3 cup ice water
  • 1 1/2 tbsp earth balance, chilled (can sub. more coconut oil)
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt

Filling

  • 1/2 cup pure pumpkin puree
  • 2 tbsp + 1tsp sweetener of choice (I used 1tbsp coconut sugar, 1tbsp+1tsp maple syrup)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1/4 tsp all spice
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 (dash) cardamom (optional)

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  1. make crust: measure out coconut oil and earth balance (if using) and place in a bowl in the freezer. sift together flour, sugar and sea salt. remove coconut oil and earth balance from the freezer and place in bowl with dry mixture in small clumps. cut into the flour with a pastry cutter or rub together lightly with your fingers until the mixture resembles sand – some small chunks are okay. one tablespoon at a time, add the ice-cold water until the dough just begins to come together. once you can gather it with your hands, form into a disk and wrap with plastic wrap and place in the fridge.
  2. make filling: mix together all of the filling ingredients and make any adjustments to taste. instead of cardamom, which gives this a “chai” sort of flavour, you can add a dash of nutmeg to keep it more of a traditional pumpkin pie flavour.
  3. preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. line a baking pan with parchment paper or lightly grease with coconut oil or mild flavoured oil.
  4. roll the dough: remove dough from the fridge and place disc between two sheets of parchment paper on the counter (alternatively, on a lightly floured counter). as best as you can, roll dough into a large rectangle until dough is about 1/4-1/2 inch thick, depending on your crust preference. once rolled to your desired thickness, cut away the messy ends to form a clean square. cut square into equal smaller squares (photo above) and place onto parchment paper. continue with remaining dough until you have an even number of dough squares. (i was able to make 16 squares total, enough to make 8 tarts, though my dough was rolled on the thicker side)
  5. assemble: on half of the squares, place a tablespoon or so of your filling in the center, being sure to leave an adequate border for sealing. match up these halves with their best-suited other half, and place remaining halves on top. to seal tarts, gently press down on edges with a fork multiple times around the border of the tart. some of the filling may squirt out, this is okay – just make sure all of the edges are sealed tight. sprinkle tops with cane sugar (optional)
  6. bake: bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes, until edges are crispy and lightly golden brown. allow to cool on rack until completely cooled.

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I made a maple glaze purely for example sake, but here is a glaze recipe to follow – although for a maple flavoured glaze, i would suggest simply omitting the melted earth balance and replacing with maple syrup. if not, these little guys are delicious on their own – perfect little pies for on-the-go!

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a delicious pumpkin-y surprise waiting for you to sink your teeth into! (you can probably skip the spoon)

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