When I hear “Moon Pies,” I smile.
Do you have a favorite childhood summer memory? I have several. Nearly all of them involve piling in the car, hair hanging in messy damp wringlets, the smell of chlorine heavy in the air. Mom would make the 20-minute drive to Humble (the H is silent!) to the bakery to get bread. And Moon Pies.
My other favorite memories involve picking blackberries, canning preserves at Grandma’s, and entire days spent running between the XLR8 and the Tidal Wave at Astroworld. There were Moon Pies then, too.
If you’re not familiar with Moon Pies, you’re really missing out. They’re graham-cracker like cookies filled with plain marshmallow and dunked in chocolate.
This is my week to host Project Pastry Queen. In the very back of the book, there is a recipe for “Mars Pies.” Mars Pies are a fancier, more complicated version of Moon Pies. While there are times when I’m all about the fancier and more complicated, I don’t think Moon Pies need to be either.
The original recipe for Mars Pies had 4 components and were not a sandwich cookie like the traditional Moon Pie:
A layer of Chocolate-Caramel Ganache
A layer of Chocolate Marshmallow
I changed up the recipe so that they would be a sandwich cookie. I chose to skip the ganache since Moon Pies were never that fancy. And it sounded horribly messy in the form of a sandwich cookie. I also chose to forgo the chocolate marshmallow filling for a plain marshmallow filling – and then changed my mind and made dulce de leche marshmallows. My Moon Pies were never that fancy either but, man, that was the best decision I made all day Especially the part where I dunked leftover marshmallow squares into melted chocolate and called that lunch.
The Moon Pies won’t actually take you too terribly long to make, just get organized. I made the cookie dough. While the dough was chilling, I cooked the marshmallow filling. I rolled the cookies while the marshmallows where whipping. I put the cookies in the freezer when they came out of the oven to quickly chill them, and then I piped on the marshmallow filling. After the filled cookies sat up in the fridge, I pulled out the chocolate for coating. For a 3 component dessert, they came together relatively quickly! (I said relatively.)
Homemade Moon Pies
The southern favorite Moon Pie gets a homemade makeover with dark chocolate and dulce de leche marshmallow filling.
- For the cookies
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temp
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cup whole wheat or graham flour
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- For the Dulce De Leche Marshmallow Filling
- 1 envelope unflavored gelatin
- 1/3 cup cold water
- 1 cup sugar
- 2/3 cup light corn syrup
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 1/3 cup dulce de leche (for plain marshmallows, substitute 1/3 cup water)
- For Chocolate Coating
- 8 oz dark chocolate, chopped
- 1 Tbsp shortening
- To make the cookies: Preheat the oven to 350. Line a baking sheet with parchment or a silicone mat.
- Cream butter and the sugar on medium until fluffy.
- Add both flours, the salt, baking powder, and vanilla. Beat on medium until thoroughly combined.
- Turn out dough onto plastic wrap and press into a flat round. Wrap tightly and refrigerate for 20-30 minutes, just until firm enough to roll.
- On a floured surface, roll the dough to ~1/8- to 1/3-inch thick and use a 3-inch round cutter to cut 12 circles (knead the scraps together and re-roll to get all of the cookies).
- Place the cookie rounds on the baking sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes, until golden brown.
- Cookies must be at least room temp before filling so you can put them in the freezer to do this quickly.
- To make the marshmallow filling: Place 1/3 cup cold water in the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle gelatin over top.
- In a medium sauce pan, heat sugar, corn syrup, salt, and dulce de leche (or water) over medium heat and stir constantly until the temperature reaches soft ball stage (234F).
- Add the heated sugar mixture in a slow, thin stream to the stand mixer while on low. Increase speed to high and whip for ~15 minutes, until thickened and cooled (the side of your mixer bowl should feel like room temp).
- Transfer mixture to a pastry bag or large zipper bag (using a buttered spoon or spatula is helpful), and snip off one corner.
- Pipe 2-3 Tbsp of marshmallow onto the center 6 of the cookies.
- Place in the fridge for 10 minutes to set.
- Top with the other cookies.
- To make the chocolate coating: Heat chocolate and shortening in the microwave until completely melted.
- Holding the bottom cookie with your fingertips, dip the cookies in the chocolate and shake to remove excess. Set on a rack above a baking sheet to catch any drips (I didn't coat the very bottom with chocolate).
- Refrigerate until set. Store the cookies in an airtight container, each separated by wax paper or like I did - in the fridge on a plate.
Yields: 6 servings
Estimated time: 1 hour 30 minutes