You all start baking projects at 9 pm the night before leaving for vacation, right? Ok, good. It hit me that I wouldn’t be in my kitchen for 5 or 6 days and suddenly, I just had to make one last thing. It also gave me another excuse to put off packing for a few more hours, I’d been coming up with them all day, why stop at 9 o’clock. Yes, procrastination is my middle name. Some projects are worth a few less hours of sleep anyway.
So, moon pies - have you heard of them? There are 3 components - the buttery graham cookies, fluffy marshmallow filling and dark chocolate coating. Sort of like a modified s'mores, and who doesn't love s'mores? Don't be put off by the seemingly long ingredient list, or what appears to be a lengthy set of instructions. Each component is very doable, and if you're organized, you can work on multiple components at once. Shawnda gave some good tips on how to do just that in her post. From start to finish, these took me maybe 2 hours at most. I was never a huge fan of the store-bought moon pies (the marshmallow was always so rubbery, eww!), but like just about everything, the homemade version doesn't even compare. Had we not been leaving on vacation, these probably wouldn't even have lasted a full day at our house. Instead, I had half of one for breakfast as I packed the next morning, and left the remaining moon pies in the fridge for my mom. She's kind enough to keep an eye on things at our place while we're gone, so it was the least I could do.
Just a few quick notes on the moon pies. I found the cookies a bit fragile so I wouldn't advise trying to pipe the marshmallow in the center and press down on the cookies to push it out to the edges. I broke a few that way - still as delicious, but messy. Instead, pipe it within 1/8 to 1/4-inch of the edge (to allow for a little spreading) and then just top with the second cookie. Also, the recipe makes more marshmallow than you'll need for the filling so I'd either scale back, or spread the leftover marshmallow in a baking dish to make marshmallow squares. You could even use them to make s'mores when all of your moon pies are gone :)
Homemade Moon Pies
adapted from Confections of a Foodie Bride (who adapted from The Pastry Queen by Rebecca Rather)
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup graham flour (or whole wheat)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 envelope unflavored gelatin
1/3 cup cold water
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup light corn syrup
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup water
8 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 tablespoon shortening
To make the cookies: Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the all-purpose flour, graham flour, salt, baking powder and vanilla; beat until the dough comes together and looks uniform. Form the dough into a disc and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for about 20 minutes (this will make it easier to roll out).
Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and roll until it is about 1/8 to 1/4-inch thick. Use a 3-inch round cutter to cut cookies from the dough. Re-roll the scraps and continue cutting until you have 12 cookies. Use a thin spatula to transfer the cookies to the prepared baking sheet - I put all 12 on one sheet. They'll be pretty close, but that's fine, they don't spread much.
Bake for about 12 minutes, or until the cookies are golden brown and set. Let cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes before trying to transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.
To make the marshmallow filling: Add 1/3 cup cold water to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and sprinkle the packet of gelatin over top (no need to stir). Set aside.
Combine the sugar, corn syrup, salt and water in a medium saucepan and set over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture registers 234 F on an instant-read thermometer. With the mixer on low speed, slowly (and carefully) add the hot sugar in a steady stream down the side of the mixer bowl. When fully incorporated, increase the mixer speed to high and beat until the marshmallow is fluffy and thick, about 15 minutes (the side of the mixer bowl should be room temperature).
When the cookies are completely cool, pair them by size. Spray a rubber spatula with cooking spray and use it to transfer the marshmallow to a large pastry bag. Pipe 2-3 tablespoons of the filling onto one side of each pair of cookies. Pipe it within about 1/4 to 1/2-inch of the edges. Place the other cookie on top to make a sandwich (the cookies are a bit fragile so you don't want to press on the sandwich too much to get the filling to the edge). Pop the sandwiches in the fridge for about 10 minutes to allow the marshmallow to set.
To make the chocolate coating: Add the chocolate and shortening to a heatproof bowl and microwave in 30 second bursts at 50% power, stirring in between, until the chocolate is melted and smooth. To dip the sandwiches, I held each one on a fork and submerged it, then used the fork to fish it out, letting excess chocolate drip off. The side that was touching the fork will be the bottom. Transfer to a wire rack set over a piece of wax paper. When you've dipped all of the sandwiches, transfer to the refrigerator to set. (I don't advise leaving them on the wire rack all night, or else you will have to chisel them off in the morning.) Once set, transfer the moon pies to an airtight container and store in the refrigerator.
Makes 6 moon pies