Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Homemade MoonPies

The Setting: Pretty day, too much of it spent indoors.

The Soundtrack: Wheel of Fortune.

Steaming up the (microwave) Oven: Leftover pinto beans and brown rice.

The Scenario: Take-Home Treat number one from Music City in the Midwest: Homemade MoonPies.

MoonPies may not come from Nashville, but they do come from Tennessee, and they're beloved all over the South as part of the much-sung-about dynamic duo, the RC Cola and the MoonPie, aka "the working man's lunch."

Born in Chattanooga in 1917, the marshmallow-filled, chocolate-coated sandwich cookie was inspired by coal miners who wanted a substantial snack to get them through their long, lunchless workdays.

When a bakery salesman asked the miners how big they'd like the treat to be, "a miner held out his hands, framing the moon, and said, 'About this big!'" (http://moonpie.com/about)

In the 70s Mardi Gras paraders along the South's Gulf Coast started throwing MoonPies instead of Cracker Jack boxes from their floats, as the MoonPies were a little softer and less likely to take an eye out. This tradition continues today.

If you're a fan of the MoonPie, it would certainly be easier to buy a case of the real deals from a warehouse store (or attend a Mardi Gras parade) than to proceed with the following recipe, but if you're a MoonPie lover with a penchant for taking on big weekend projects, then this recipe is for you!

Homemade MoonPies
The cookies may seem a little crisp at first, but they should soften just enough when put together with the marshmallow cream and chocolate. The Marshmallow Cream is a tweaked version of the Homemade Marshmallows from Rebecca Rather's Hot Chocolate Layer Cake with Homemade Marshmallows, as seen in this post. This recipe makes enough Marshmallow Cream for two batches of Golden Cookies. One batch of cookies makes approximately 32 cookies, or 16 MoonPies.

~For the Golden Cookies~
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp kosher salt
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 baking soda
2 sticks butter, softened at room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup honey
1 egg yolk
1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract

~For the Marshmallow Cream~
1/3 cup powdered sugar, for rolling
1 1/2 cups cold water, divided
3 (1/4-oz) envelopes unflavored gelatin
2 cups sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

~For the Chocolate Coating~
If making two batches of cookies, double the following, but do not melt all at once. Follow the instructions in the recipe below, and make the second batch of chocolate coating when you run out of the first.
10 oz semisweet and/or dark chocolate, divided
10 oz milk chocolate, divided
3 1/2 T coconut oil, divided

Make the Golden Cookies: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a small bowl whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer beat together the butter, sugar, and honey till light and fluffy. Beat in the egg and the vanilla till thoroughly incorporated. Add the dry ingredients, mixing on low until dough comes together.

Turn the dough out onto a large sheet of parchment paper, pat into a rough rectangle, and divide in half. Working with one half at a time, top with another sheet of parchment, and use a rolling pin to roll the dough out to a thickness of 1/8-to-1/4 inch.

Use a 3-inch round cookie-cutter to cut out as many circles as you can, and gently transfer them to the prepared baking sheet. Re-roll remaining dough, and repeat until you have gotten as many circles out of the dough as you can.

Bake the cookies, one sheet at a time, on the center rack of the oven, at 350 degrees F for 13 minutes or till light golden and cooked through with as little browning around the edges as possible. Let cool 5 minutes on the baking sheet before transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Before making marshmallow cream, arrange cookies in 4 rows on sheets of parchment paper so that the first and third rows are bottom side up, and the second and forth rows are bottom side down.

Make the Marshmallow Cream: Prop up each of two disposable pastry bags in each of two tall drinking glasses and fold the tops of the bags down a few inches (as if you were going to turn then inside-out). Set aside.

Sift the powdered sugar into a wide, shallow dish. Set aside.

Sprinkle the gelatin over 3/4 cup cold water in the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.

Fix a 3-quart saucepan with a candy thermometer so that the bottom of the thermometer is just above, not touching the bottom of the pan. Make sure the thermometer is set to Fahrenheit. Add the sugar, corn syrup, sweetened condensed milk, salt, and remaining water to the pan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Do not stir. Continue cooking until the thermometer reads 231 degrees F. The mixture will be light-golden-to-pale-amber in color. Remove from heat, turn the mixer on low, and very slowly and carefully stream the sugar mixture into the gelatin mixture.

Add the vanilla and increase the speed slightly. Continue increasing the speed slightly every 30-to-60 seconds until the speed is set to high. Beat on high until the mixture is white, fluffy, and voluminous and the bowl is almost cool to the touch, about 6 minutes.

Split the mixture between the two pastry bags and immediately begin piping the Marshmallow Cream onto the Golden Cookies with the bottom sides up.

Top each one with another golden cookie, bottom side down, and press gently. Roll the exposed-marshmallow edges of the sandwiched cookies in the powdered sugar. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to set for at least 1 hour or up to 1 day.

Line your countertop with parchment paper.

Prepare the Chocolate Coating: Place 6 oz semisweet chocolate, 6 oz milk chocolate, and 2 T coconut oil in a medium-sized, microwave-safe bowl. Microwave for 30-second intervals, stirring thoroughly after each, until the chocolate is almost completely melted. Stir till completely melted and smooth.

Press each cookie sandwich into the chocolate so that the chocolate coats the bottom and sides. Gently grasping the top cookie, allow the bottom cookie to gently graze the side of the bowl to remove excess chocolate as you transfer the cookie sandwich to the parchment paper to set.

Once the chocolate has set, place a cooling rack over a jellyroll pan or rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Space the cookie sandwiches 1-2 inches apart, chocolate sides down, on the cooling rack, and prepare remaining chocolate as before.

Spoon chocolate over the cookies, using the spoon to smooth the chocolate out over the sides, covering any exposed cookie or marshmallow. Allow to set completely.

Cooled excess chocolate can be removed from parchment, added back to the bowl, and reheated if necessary, or peeled off parchment and transferred to a plastic bag for future use or snacking.

MoonPies can be stored, covered, at room temperature for up to one week.

Guest Feedback:
Average Score on a scale of 0-5, 0 being "Never again. Need to set my mouth on fire to extinguish the memory" and 5 being "Woohoo! When can I eat that again?" 4.4
"OMG--So good!" "Like my childhood!" "Best MoonPie I've had." "Yummo."

This recipe was featured in a post called Music City in the Midwest for Foodbuzz.com's 24x24 event, for which 24 food bloggers from around the world are selected to host dinner parties within the same 24 hours and blog about them.

Thanks for Reading! Here's to Being the Secret Ingredient in your life.

1 comment:

wok with ray said...

Love the thick chocolate coating. It looks delicious and perfect with a cup of tea! :)