I am not a morning person.
Scratch that. I am Not A Morning Person. I do not react favorably to the sight of early morning sunshine. I build defensive trenches of comforters against the creeping threat of seven am. I sleep soundly and cannot be woken by anything other than an alarm clock, because only an alarm clock is implacable against my threats and invective. I do not merely abuse the snooze button - I am guilty of capital crimes against it.
If I had my way, I'd only ever sneak up on mornings from behind, catching them in passing after staying up all night.
Mornings are difficult. Breakfast, more so. My stomach doesn't wake up until at least half an hour after my eyes are open, and while I like many breakfast foods, I have no love for breakfast hour. Pancakes are delicious at four am and eleven am. At eight am, they are an abomination.
I didn't grow into my aversion to mornings. Even as a child, it took a lot to rouse me out of bed before nine. If there was ever an argument for giving children caffeine, I was a walking point in its favor. My mother, who took to heart the idea of breakfast as the most important meal of the day, would sigh and fret as I sat sullen and bleary-eyed at the kitchen table, refusing fruit and yogurt and Weet-Bix before finally choking down a few half-hearted bites of margarine toast, pointedly avoiding the crusts. When my sister reached an impressionable age and began imitating me in everything I did, my mother - my sugar-phobic mother - broke down and bought Pop-Tarts.
If the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation had created a snack machine to go with their Nutrimatic Drinks Dispenser, a Pop-Tart is the sort of thing it would produce. Rectangular, about the size of a small envelope, consisting of a sickly, jammy confection sandwiched between sheets of damp, crumbly pastry product, the Pop-Tart is almost, but not quite, entirely unlike a jam tartlet. Their tooth-aching sweetness was enough to give even me and my sister (hardened sugar junkies, the both of us) serious pause. Still, the joy of the forbidden was enough to get us eating them, and for a few weeks, the breakfast battle reached a ceasefire. Then the novelty wore off, and Pop-Tarts didn't last on their merits. We went back to margarine toast.
Later, I left for boarding school and discovered the magic of coffee. Mornings, while still not agreeable, became at least bearable, and I found that granola bars were a fairly effective mid-morning compromise. The last time I encountered Pop-Tarts - in the vending machine at law school - I noted with a certain bafflement that they'd introduced a double-frosted chocolate variety, complete with sprinkles. I had neither the nostalgia nor the morbid curiosity to try them.
Suffice to say, Pop-Tarts were the last thing on my mind when I was tinkering with a recipe for maple cookies. The results failed on their merits as cookies - the amount of maple syrup required to give the cookies a strong maple flavor also gave them an odd texture - but showed promise as pastry. Replacing the sugar and water in a standard sweet shortcrust with maple syrup and egg yolk, trading out regular butter for browned, and giving it a few quick turns produced a pastry that was flaky and fragrant. All I needed was the right recipe in which to use it.
A tart or pie didn't seem quite right. Then I learned through the blogosphere that people make homemade versions of Pop-Tarts, little pastries that keep the Pop-Tart's rectangular shape, but more like turnovers or hand pies in character. The pastry-to-filling ratio struck me as a good one, and it was easy to cook up a sweetly spiced mixture of apples and raisins to sandwich between sheets of pastry. A wash of egg and a spell in the oven, and the results were browned and delectable, perfect for eating at the kitchen table in one's pajamas.
Well, maybe not at breakfast hour. Could we skip that battle - and make it a late brunch?
Note: I haven't tried baking these from frozen, but I see no reason why it couldn't work.