My kids love making and eating this Valentines treat. These are super easy, and they end up pretty healthy too. I feel good about giving these to my kids! For the quick recipe go here.
I don’t really know how jelly is made, or even filling for fruit pies. I came up with this filling for our pop tarts on my own, and my little food critics never once complained. In fact, they asked for more! So, you jelly and pie filling masters, don’t laugh at my pop tart filling!
We used about a 1/2 cup of frozen berries- you can use just strawberries, just blueberries or a mix, whatever you choose (or in my case whatever you happen to have!).
And I always use frozen berries. I always have them on hand, I’d rather save fresh berries for eating right away and frozen berries work perfect for this!
We tossed that into a saucepan with 1 tablespoon of water and 2 tablespoons of honey and let it warm up over medium heat.
We let the berries simmer for about 10 minutes. Keep and eye on it, give it an occasional stir, and I sometimes help break down the bigger berries with my spoon. For the most part they break down on their own.
Then, we prepped our pie crust dough. My kids picked both heart cut outs and circle cut outs with little hearts in the middle. We cut out tops and bottoms and set them aside for the filling.
Once your filling is a jelly consistency, set it aside to cool down a little bit.
When it is ready spoon about a teaspoon onto the crust bottoms. Now, I have learned many times from experience- read almost exploding pop tarts- that it takes less filling than you might expect to fill these little guys.
Now, it’s time to put the tops on. I use a little water on my finger and run it along the edges of the bottom crust. This just makes the top stick a little better. Then, we used a fork to crimp the edges together. If you’re feeling really fancy, you could put an egg wash on the top. I never do, but it makes them bake up nice and golden. An egg wash would be a great job for your child by the way… now that I think of it I might have to start adding that step!
Your little Ooey Gooey Lovey pop tarts are ready to bake at 350 for about 25-30 minutes! You can keep them for your family, or share with special Valentines! Next time we need to double the batch, because they don’t last much longer than a day here.
Let’s talk about what’s happening here:
Fine motor: It’s probably pretty obvious that your child is using a lot of little muscles in their hands and forearms, and that’s great! Think about the control their body is learning as they pour the berries into the pan or cut out the pie crust. Not only are their little muscles working, but their brain is working too figuring out how to control their limbs.
Sensory: Cooking and baking activities are a great sensory activity. I like to remind parents that sensory isn’t just what we do in the sand table! Sensory is all of our senses… sight, smell, taste, touch, and hearing. Yes, there are always lots of touch sensory experiences in cooking, in this case getting out the strawberries, feeling the pie crust dough… But also consider other opportunities, maybe with this activity try the filling when it is cool enough. What does it taste like? How is it different from a strawberry? Or point out the smell of the filling as it simmers, or the smell of the pop tarts as they near being done.
Early Science: At this age just getting the experience of using a measuring spoon and watching the changes that happen while the strawberries and pop tarts change while cooking, is science. We don’t need to point out these things in scientific ways, it’s more just about your child getting to experience them.