Tennessee: Homemade Moon Pies

Tennessee’s cookie is a homemade version of their famous Moon Pie, with homemade marshmallow sandwiched between two cake-like vanilla cookies and drenched in semisweet chocolate.

Recipe source: https://www.bobsredmill.com/recipes/how-to-make/homemade-moon-pies/

Up until last week, I had never had a Moon Pie. Our town library had a little party during Story Time to celebrate the end of Summer Reading and since the theme was outer space they served Tang and Moon Pies as the snack. They were these double-decker kind, and I had half of one. It was about what I expect from the kind of mass produced snack cake you find in a vending machine: dry cookie, the plasticky “chocolate” coating. I wasn’t too impressed (and lest you think I’m just a snob about sweets, I love Little Debbie Swiss Cake Rolls and those Snowball things and various other mass-produced, eerily-long-shelf-life little cakes).

You can get the story about the Moon Pie here but basically it’s two graham cracker cookies with marshmallow between and covered in chocolate, and the legend says that it was born when a coal miner requested a dessert “as big as the moon.” Sounds about as apocryphal as Amish children yelling “whoopie” about getting whoopie pies, but nonetheless it happened in Tennessee and is a perfect cookie for the state.

This cookie is vanilla, not graham cracker, but the marshmallow inside is homemade (instead of, say, using Fluff) so I have high hopes.

Another recipe that says to combine but not cream.
Unlike the SC gingersnaps, which claimed to have stiff dough that was actually soft, this had stiff dough but claimed it needed two hours of refrigeration. As is usual when I make this kind of cookie, I plan to bake them later but end up waiting until the next day.
After rolling, pre-bake.

I didn’t check the yield beforehand (a bad habit of mine) but I was going to end up with ten cookies once they were paired off. Like previous times I’ve rolled balls out of chilled dough, they didn’t spread much and had high domes.

I’ve made marshmallows before, and as long as you’re comfortable cooking some syrup and can stand the barnyard smell of hot gelatin (seriously, how can you not know what it comes from when you smell that?) it’s pretty easy. This recipe included an egg white, which the Taste of Home and Alton Brown recipes I’ve used before didn’t use. So in a way it was partway between when I made marshmallows before and when I made Italian buttercream last month. The problem was the tiny amounts I was dealing with: 2 TB of water, 2 TB of corn syrup, 1/3 c of granulated sugar, and 1 TB of gelatin. Check this out:

Even in my smallest saucepan I couldn’t use my usual candy thermometer because the liquid wouldn’t come up high enough on it.
That is a pinch bowl that I’m blooming the gelatin in.
I was worried that a single egg white was too small for my Kitchenaid to whip effectively, but it did as solid job.
Soft peaks.
The finished marshmallow.

I was too stingy with the filling. I think I was thinking of when I fill whoopie pies, because if you try to really stuff them, you’ll likely end up with filling blobbing out the sides. The recipe instructed me to refrigerate the cookies after filling to set the marshmallow, which meant I really could have made that layer thicker, especially since the cookies were so thick. That knocked the ratio all off and I barely could taste the marshmallow.

I had this much filling left over.
When you have extra marshmallow filling, make marshmallows.

Next, the chocolate coating, which happily used real chocolate and a double boiler melting method (which I would have used anyway).

It recommended using a fork to dip, but I have this cool dipping spoon so why not use it?

Look at that shiiiiine!

I hate tempering chocolate (I didn’t this time, I just got lucky with careful slow melting) but man do I love dipping things in chocolate. If I could justify the cost I’d get a chocolate tempering machine.

Doesn’t that cool ripple effect look intentional? That’s the result of flipping the cookie off of the dipping spoon and the pattern its wires leave in the chocolate.
See, I got lucky with the tempering, because as I was dipping later cookies, the earlier ones had already set at room temperature, no refrigeration required.
It looks like a huge chocolate truffle.

So what am I going to do with these marshmallows? Hmm…

Oh, is this really happening?

Okay, dipping individually is going to take forever, let’s just make a huge mass of chocolate covered marshmallows:

Overall impressions: As you can see, the cookies are really thick and the marshmallow is not. That’s on me. Flavor-wise, the chocolate dominates because of it. But I can’t complain, and it’s definitely much tastier than the one I had at the library. The cookie is more like a dense, soft cookie than a cake, so it’s definitely in cookie territory.

Tips and Tricks:

  • Next time I would flatten each ball of dough after placing it on the cookie sheet. I want these to spread and get a little thinner so I end up with a chocolate-covered saucer shape, not a chocolate-covered ball.
  • Make the marshmallow layer thicker. Be generous. Maybe instead of putting them together one at a time, I’ll lay out each cookie that’s getting filled and divide the marshmallow evenly between them until it’s gone. Or whatever is reasonable.
  • Make a double batch

Next time: Texas Sheet Cake Cookies. Chocolate and peanut butter, can’t go wrong.

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