Red Queen Tarts

This is Marie, contributing a tiny little article about a tiny little treat – pop tarts. Sort of, anyway. You know that my articles are mainly about dessert, right?

Well, despite my unfortunate weakness for artificial grape flavoring and seasonal sugar bombs like candy corn, I’m not really a big fan of toaster pastries that come in cardboard with silver wrappers around them. They smell like chemicals to me. I have been known to buy them for the fans in my household, and then flee with my nose pinched shut when the odor of toasted pop tart wafts through the kitchen.

So, what am I doing writing about them? Well, this article is more about pop tarts as they would be if we lived in a world where there actually were little elves who baked for the sheer pleasure of feeding people, so you could get stuff from the grocery store that had as much love in the making as the treats you swiped off of Grandma’s cooling racks on visits to her kitchen. I mean, look at these. If you opened cardboard box and took out a silver foil package and found this inside, you’d just have to believe in elves, right?

These cute little treats are a labor of love by Candice Reynolds, a.k.a. The Red Queen. She shares my opinion that the truly decadent treat should involve real care and attention to detail, and takes it just a little farther. Heirloom flour, aluminum-free baking powder, fillings made from seasonal (never-frozen) ingredients, and nearly all of what she uses is organic – some serious thought and care went into the selection of her ingredients. And after all that, as you can see she uses personal care and attention as each tart is very clearly fork-crimped. I do hope she’s using ergonomic work practices, as she apparently has quite a respectable output each week.

The crust is almost like a cookie with those lovely sugar crystals on top, but the fillings are not overly sweet, so there is no need to risk a toothache on biting into them. In fact, some, like the Meyer Lemon, make the word tart an adjective as well as a noun – and that is as it should be. Flavors vary by season and availability. So far I’ve tried mainly the fruit flavors but have heard that some like the chocolate hazelnut should not be missed.

One of the neat things that the cafeteria my my workplace does is occasionally check out local vendors and test their products on the happy guinea pigs (excuse me, customers) who come through the line. Sadly, these were a little on the pricey side to make the cut as a regular offering, but every so often a group of us will get together and pitch in for a minimum order to get these delivered to the office for a late afternoon snack. She generally can be tracked down at farmer’s markets (often found at Peachtree Road Farmers Market and East Point Farmers Market based on her Facebook page), and for catered events. It may take a little searching to lay hands on some, but they’re worth it.

Also, thanks to Adventurous Tastes for an enticing write-up (since deleted) that got me interested in further exploration (if I remember correctly, I ran across this piece while looking for inspiration on writing up an article about cupcakes), and also includes some much better pictures of these treats than the one I took!