Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Moon Landing & Moon Pies

The Story: Mooning Over the Crescent City
That’s One Small Step for Man and One Giant Leap for Man Kind.

The Internet has learned a lot about my family (and me) thanks to this blog.  Some of it can be viewed as either embarrassing or awesome, depending on your point of view. (For example, our compulsive Independence Day watching and my quirk for canine cuisine.)

But this next piece of information, in my opinion, can only be seen as awesome. 

We are a family of space nerds.  Yes, astronauts are worshipped like rock stars.  My parents are both geologists, so naturally the science bug translates into astronaut worship.  My dad actually has an astronomy specialty.  My brother-in-law is getting a Ph.D. in aerospace engineering. And, my mechanical engineer boyfriend was a SpaceX intern.

Rockets, quite simply, are the best.

Which is why I would like to dedicate this week’s blog to the 43rd anniversary of the moon landing (July 21, 1969).   

My boyfriend Robert and I actually had the luck of being in DC last week, where we saw a Saturn V engine and the Space Shuttle Discovery — at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum and Udvar-Hazy Hanger, respectively. 

Another way to commemorate the Moon Landing is to make Moon Pies. At least, that’s how I celebrated. And, fun fact, Moon Pies are also a New Orleans tradition.

Though the famous cellophane wrapped, marshmallow puffed, retro cakes are not manufactured in the Crescent City, they have become a Mardi Gras staple. 

Moon Pies are a popular and sought after parade throw. (Throw [throh] – object thrown from a Mardi Gras float.)  Everyone gets beads, but catching a Moon Pie is something special.  New Orleans kids grow up loving Moon Pies just because of the sport that goes into catching them. For many, it is a once a year treat.

Eww Banana.
I, honestly, don’t care for the taste, it seems akin to cardboard in my opinion.  But I do end up eating the ones I catch because of the fun. Vanilla is the best, but be ware of the similarly wrapped and hued banana flavor.

A side of pie: … in the sky
Funny how freshness really changes food?

As a kid, I usually saved the Moon Pies I caught at the parade for my Dad, because they are his favorite.  In fact, he enjoys them so much that one year I made this Moon Pie recipe for him from scratch. He said they were good. But, there was something different.  They were fresh.

 These homemade gooey centered cookies were not sealed in an airtight wrapper that would keep them edible even in a post apocalyptic environment.  But, that’s half the charm. 

My dad knew his birthday pastry was what his dear, preserved cookie was modeled after.  But, the original tasted nothing like the imitation he loves so much. 

If you love gas station or Mardi Gras moon pies, this recipe is not for you. If you’re like me, you’ll be over the moon.

Homemade Moon Pies. Photo by Robert Giglio

2 cups flour
6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1/3 shortening (I substitute with butter because Crisco is yuck)
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 cup sour milk (I use regular milk in a pinch)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

¾ Shortening (Once again, butter is better)
1 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup store-bought marshmallow topping

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease baking sheets.
Combine flour, cocoa powder and salt.
Cream butter and sugar. Beat in egg, milk and vanilla. Gradually blend in dry ingredients.
Plop tablespoonfuls 3” apart on cookie sheet.
Bake 7-10 minutes. 
Now let’s do the filling … Combine all ingredients.
That was easy.
Cut your cookies horizontally and sandwich in the filling.

Note: This recipe is not an original! For the first time on my blog this is a cookie recipe I pulled from elsewhere because it is just too good to not share. This recipe is from “501 Cookies: The Ultimate A-to-Z Guide to Bars, Drops, Crescents, Snaps, Squares and Everything that Crumbles,” by Gregg R. Gillepsie. This book is my baking bible and it packs a mean Snickerdoodle recipe too! Definitely a kitchen must have.

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