Up until this week, I could only remember eating one Moon Pie in my life, and that was the pre-packaged version my father once fed me along with a bag of beef jerky. I was begging him for some lunch and apparently that was all that the outdoor sportsman store had to offer. Though that was many years ago, the lackluster flavor of the tiny "pie" never quite escaped my memory. Needless to say, this southern delicacy had never been high upon my list of things to bake.
The weather in my part of the earth has been more mercurial than ever the past few weeks. It is bouncing back and forth between cold, rainy days, and hot, glowing afternoons. It’s coy games of unpredictability have created within me a wholehearted enthusiasm for Summer. I am ready to dive in headfirst. I am ready for the hot dogs, and the blueberry picking, and…I might even buy a bathing suit. I don't know, maybe I am feeling a little wild.
Perhaps it was the uncharacteristic excitement for what has historically been my least favorite season that drove me to this recipe. One new love inspired the other, I suppose.
It may also have to do with the fact that I am trying very hard to eat s’mores at every chance possible, in any form possible, and these stuffed cookies certainly nod to the classic campfire treat.
Before we jump into the recipe, I need to declare my immense adoration for this beautiful, canvas-bound collection of time-honored genius. Southern food had not been something I had put a great deal of effort into mastering, until recently. But, now that I am about to marry a man who constantly reminds me of his love for fried chicken and sweet tea (correction: tea-flavored syrup), I took it upon myself to work my way through some of the most iconic southern delicacies.
So far I have tried only two recipes, but I am already aflutter with excitement for this book. I have admired Garden and Gun for some time, and this beautifully curated book met my highest hopes. It is the perfect means by which I will begin my journey into the realm of southern gastronomy. I'm still gushing about the fried chicken recipe I tried last weekend. Ahhhh, give me all the crispy chicken skin, please and thank you.
As I was flipping through the many pages, this recipe caught my eye and I knew exactly what needed to happen.
"Mardi Gras Moon Pies." A lightly sweetened graham cracker cookie filled with marshmallow fluff and draped with a thick layer of chocolate. The same familiar trio found in my favorite Summer dessert was repackaged into a convenient, no-fire-required medium.
Let's take a moment to clarify something. Moon Pies are cookies and Whoopi Pies are cakes. Both are absolutely delicious, but are by no means interchangeable. Okay? Okay.
The cookies in this case, were graham cracker based, and flavored with a bit of honey and a pinch of cinnamon.
While golden rounds cool, a light, marshmallow-esc filling is prepared with a sugary syrup, gelatin, and beaten egg whites. Now, this filling was certainly what you would expect to find inside a sandwich cookie such as this - both in its flavor and texture. However, in the end, I think I would have been just as happy - and perhaps even a little happier, with good old marshmallow fluff. The choice is yours.
I'll tell you right now that you are going to be tempted to panic because the filling will really look like it is not setting up properly. It might even start to ooze (I really hate that word) out of the cookie sandwiches, but don't worry, it will set up. Place the cookies in the refrigerator for a couple minutes and by the time you melt your chocolate they will be set and ready to dip!
I really wanted to use milk chocolate here but I was afraid that its melting tendencies would make eating these treats rather messy. Next time I am totally going for the milk chocolate because they ended up being pretty messy even with the dark chocolate. Oh well. I'm not mad at it, finger-licking becomes socially acceptable in the Summer, right?
I love glossy melted chocolate.
You could let these little "pies" sit at room temperature for a couple of hours like the recipe author suggests, or...you could be impatient and make up some excuse about the kitchen being too warm and pop them in the freezer for a couple minutes so that you can eat them right away.
Guess what I did?
I'm feeling very southern at the moment. I might even give a glass of that slightly tea-flavored sugar syrup they call "sweet tea" a try.
Or, I might just stick with my milk because that happens to be the perfect pairing for these cookies/pies/yummy things.
Happy long weekend!
Classic Moon Pies from A Southerner's Cookbook
makes 13 pies
for the cookies
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/4 cups fine graham crackers crumbs (about 9 graham crackers, pulsed thoroughly in a food processor)
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 tablespoons whole milk
Whisk to combine flour, graham cracker crumbs, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and ground cinnamon. Set aside.
Combine butter, brown sugar, honey, and vanilla in the bowl of your stand mixer that has been fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat for one minute, until fluffy, then scrape down the sides and add the flour mixture. Mix on low speed and gradually add in the milk.
Continue mixing on low speed until the dough comes together. Remove the dough from the mixing bowl and press into a flat disc. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Preheat your oven to 325 degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. After the dough has chilled, place on a floured surface and roll out into a disc 1/4-inch thick. Use a 3-inch biscuit cutter to cut the dough into rounds.
Place the rounds about 1/2-inch apart on the prepared baking sheets and bake for 10-12 minutes; until the edges are golden.
Let the cookies cool completely on cooling racks while you prepare the filling.
Turn half of the cookies upside down.
for the marshmallow filling
- 4 teaspoons unflavored powdered gelatin
- 1/2 cup ice-cold water + 1/4 cup room-temperature water
- 1/4 cup light corn syrup
- 3 tablespoons honey
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 3 large egg whites
Place the 1/2 cup of ice-cold water in a small bowl and sprinkle the gelatin on top. Set aside to bloom while you prepare the other ingredients.
Combine 1/4 cup room-temperature water, corn syrup, honey, and sugar in a small saucepan fitted with a candy thermometer. Simmer over medium heat, until the mixture reaches 240 degrees. When the thermometer reaches 200 degrees (do not do this step any earlier), place egg whites in the cleaned bowl of your stand mixer and whip on high speed. They egg whites should have reached soft peaks by the time the syrup has reached the desired 240 degrees.
Once the syrup has reached 240, remove from heat and stir in the bloomed gelatin. With the eggs still beating, slowly stream in the hot syrup. Whip for an additional 8 minutes, until the mixture is thick and somewhat stiff.
Place the filling in a piping bag and pipe about 1/4 cup of the filling unto the thirteen cookies that you placed upside down. Top with the remaining cookies to create sandwiches and place on a clean, lined baking sheet. Refrigerate for 15-20 minutes to set up.
While the cookies are refrigerating, prepare the chocolate coating.
for the chocolate coating
- 16 ounces dark chocolate
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Combine chocolate and oil in a glass bowl and microwave for thirty seconds. Stir and then return to the microwave for an additional thirty seconds. Continue stirring and heating at thirty second increments until the chocolate is smooth and thoroughly melted.
Allow the chocolate to cool for about five minutes so that it is no longer hot, but just warm.
Use a slotted spatula to submerge each cookie into the chocolate coating. Place the dipped cookies on cooling racks set over sheets of parchment paper. Allow the chocolate to set at room temperature for 1-2 hours, or place them in the freezer for 15-20 minutes until the chocolate has set. Store in airtight containers for up to 2 days. Enjoy!
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