DIY: Pop Tarts and 6 Other Packaged Foods to Make at Home

When you’re looking for a little baking inspiration, why not turn to the shelves of packaged foodstuffs in your grocery store? Homemade recipes for childhood favorites are pervasive across the Internet — serving up recipes for novelty snacks, baking projects, and healthier versions of store-bought snacks. Of course a little more effort is required to create a homemade version of the pre-packaged variety, but these seven recipes will have you ditching the easy route to put your own spin on an old favorite.

Peanut butter cups

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1. Homemade Reese’s Cups

For some people, peanut butter and chocolate is the ultimate combination — even better than peanut butter and jelly! To get a bite-sized treat with this salty-sweet combination, follow the directions using a miniature muffin or cupcake pan, but if you are craving a larger serving you can prepare Taste of Home’s Reese’s Cups in a regular-sized pan.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter, divided into half cups
  • 4½ teaspoons butter, softened
  • ½ cup confectioners’ sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips
  • 4 (1.55 ounce) milk chocolate candy bars

Directions: In a small bowl, combine 1/2 cup peanut butter, butter, confectioners’ sugar and salt until smooth; set aside. In a microwave, melt the chocolate chips, candy bars, and remaining peanut butter; stir until smooth. Drop teaspoonfuls of chocolate mixture into paper-lined miniature muffin cups. Top each with a scant teaspoonful of peanut butter mixture; top with another teaspoonful of chocolate mixture. Refrigerate until set. Store in an airtight container. Yield: 3 dozen.

Honey Graham Crackers

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2. Graham Crackers

King Arthur Flour’s Homemade graham crackers can get a little health kick by using whole wheat flour, or whole wheat pastry flour. You’ll get about 2 dozen graham crackers from this recipe, and you can store them in an airtight container.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup (4 ounces) Whole Wheat Flour or Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
  • 1 cup (4¼ ounces) Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • ¼ cup (1¾ ounces) sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 large egg
  • ¼ cup (1¾ ounces) vegetable oil
  • ¼ cup (3 ounces) honey
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons (1 to 1½ ounces) milk
  • Additional milk for glaze
  • Cinnamon-sugar (optional)

Directions: In a mixing bowl, combine whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon, and baking powder. In a separate bowl, beat egg till light, then add oil, honey, and 2 tablespoons milk. Stir into dry ingredients until you have a fairly stiff dough, adding additional milk if necessary. Wrap dough in waxed paper and chill until firm, about 1 hour.

Turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead gently until it holds together. Roll dough out till it’s about 1/16-inch thick; make sure rolling surface is well-floured, or you’ll have trouble transferring crackers to baking sheet. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

Cut dough into 3-inch squares, prick each square several times with a fork, and place on lightly greased cookie sheets. Brush the tops with milk, sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar if you’re so inclined, and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until crackers are lightly browned. Remove crackers from oven, transfer to a wire cooling rack and cool completely. 

Marshmallows

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3. Marshmallows

Wondering what to do with your 24 homemade graham crackers? Make the ultimate homemade s’more with these marshmallows from Food.com. Unlike other recipes, there is no candy thermometer involved; additionally, the vanilla extract can be substituted for a different flavoring.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons gelatin (2 envelopes)
  • 8 tablespoons cold water
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • ½ cup cold water
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Directions: Dust an 8- or 9-inch square pan with powdered sugar. In a small bowl, soak gelatin in 8 tablespoons cold water and set aside. Combine granulated sugar and a ½ cup of water in a large heavy saucepan. Cook and stir over medium heat until dissolved; add gelatin and bring to a boil. Remove from heat. Pour into a large mixing bowl and let stand until partially cool, then add salt and vanilla extract.

Beat with an electric mixer until soft and double in volume. About 10-15 minutes. Pour into prepared pan to about ½-inch thick. Set to cool until it will not stick to your finger. Cut into 1.5 inch pieces and roll in powdered sugar.

Marshmallow Crispy Rice Treat

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4. Marshmallow Treats

If you don’t want to use your marshmallows to make s’mores, why not use them in a homemade version of Rice Krispie Treats? All Recipes says you can substitute marshmallows for marshmallow creme, and you can find a homemade version for that on Cooking with Chopin. If your aim is to make the treats with your marshmallows, either cut them into mini sizes or follow these conversions to approximate how many marshmallows are needed.

Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup butter
  • 4 cups miniature marshmallows
  • 5 cups crisp rice cereal

Directions: Melt butter in large sauce pan over low heat. Add marshmallows and stir until melted and well blended. Cook 2 minutes longer, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Add cereal. Stir until well coated. Using buttered spatula or waxed paper, press mixture evenly and firmly in buttered 13 by 9 inch pan. Cut into 2 by 2 inch squares when cool.

Pop-tart, Hot Strawberry Toaster Pastry

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5. Pop-Tarts

Making pastry dough is not a challenge everyone is up for, but thankfully, All Recipes has a way to make Pop-Tarts at home that skips this time-consuming step. The recipe uses a store-bought frozen pastry for the base, and a jam filling, which can be homemade, organic, or your favorite brand. Alternatively, you could use a chocolate hazelnut spread.

Ingredients:

  • 1 (15 ounce) package refrigerated pie crusts
  • ¼ cup strawberry jam, divide
  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon colored decorating sugar, or as needed

Directions: Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Unroll the pie crusts, place on a lightly floured work surface, and roll the crusts slightly with a rolling pin to square the edges. Cut each crust into 8 equal-sized rectangles. Place about 2 teaspoons of strawberry jam in the center of 8 squares, and spread the jam out to within ¼-inch of the edge of the pastry square. Top each with another pastry square, and use a fork to crimp the squares together, sealing in the jam. Use a knife to trim the pastries, if desired. Move the filled pastries to the prepared baking sheets.

Bake in the preheated oven until the edges are lightly golden brown, about 7 minutes. Allow to cool on the baking sheets. Meanwhile, stir together the confectioners’ sugar, milk, and vanilla extract in a bowl to make a spreadable frosting. Spread the cooled tarts with frosting and sprinkle with colored sugar.

Chocolate Mousse Dessert

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6. Chocolate Pudding With Whipped Cream

It takes a little bit longer than pudding from a box. Okay, a lot longer. Ideally, Tyler Florence’s Food Network pudding sets overnight — however, it can be ready to serve in four hours. For a touch of crunch, top with crumbled homemade graham crackers.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ⅓ cup natural cocoa powder
  • 4 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon fine salt
  • ¾ cup whipping cream

Directions: Put 1½ cups of the milk, the sugar, and the cocoa in a nonreactive saucepan. Bring to a simmer, over medium-high heat. Remove from the heat. Meanwhile, whisk the remaining 1/2 cup of the milk, cornstarch, salt, egg yolks, and vanilla in a bowl. Gradually whisk the hot milk into the egg mixture. Return to the saucepan and cook over medium-high heat whisking constantly, until the pudding comes to a full boil. Reduce the heat to maintain a simmer, and continue whisking until thick, about 2 or 3 minutes more.

Pour the pudding into 6 small cups. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or ideally overnight until set. Just before serving, pour the cream into a chilled bowl. Whip the cream with a whisk or a hand held mixer, and continue beating until soft peaks form. Take care not to over-beat the cream or it will be grainy. Serve each pudding with a dollop of whipped cream on top.

Chocolate roll with cream filling

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7. Swiss Cake Roll

It won’t dish up single servings, but a large Swiss Cake Roll, like this one from Kraft, sweetly creates a nostalgic dessert, perfect for sharing. The recipe does call for rolling the sponge cake after it has cooked, while it is cooling. More detailed information on how to do this without your cake crumbling has been published by Better Homes and Gardens.

Ingredients:

  • 1½ packages  (4 ounces each) Semi-Sweet Chocolate (6 ounces), divided
  • 6 tablespoons of  butter
  • 1 cup  granulated sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup  flour, divided
  • ½ teaspoon  baking soda
  • ⅔ cup water
  • 4 ounces (½ of an 8 ounce package) cream cheese, softened
  • ¾ cup powdered sugar, divided
  • 3 cups thawed whipped topping, divided

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Coat a 15 by 10 by 1-inch pan with cooking spray. Line with waxed paper; spray with additional cooking spray.

Microwave 3 ounces chocolate and butter in medium microwaveable bowl on high 1½ to 2 min. or until butter is melted. Stir until chocolate is completely melted. Add granulated sugar; mix well. Beat eggs in large bowl with mixer on high speed 3 min. or until thickened. Blend in chocolate mixture. Add ¼ cup flour and baking soda; beat just until blended. Add remaining flour alternately with water, beating well after each addition. Spread evenly into prepared pan.

Bake for 15 minutes or until top of cake springs back when touched; sprinkle with ¼ cup powdered sugar. Immediately invert cake onto clean towel; remove pan. Carefully peel off paper. Starting at one short side, roll up cake and towel together; cool completely on wire rack.

Beat cream cheese and remaining powdered sugar in medium bowl with mixer until well blended. Gently stir in 1½ cups whipped topping.

Unroll cake carefully; remove towel. Spread cream cheese mixture onto cake, completely covering top of cake. Roll up cake; place, seam-side down, on platter.

Microwave remaining chocolate and remaining whipped in microwaveable bowl on high 1 to 1½ min. or until chocolate is completely melted and mixture is well blended, stirring after 1 minute Cool 2 minutes; spread onto cake. Refrigerate 1 hour.

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