fat free opinions on a food centric life

Caramel Moonpies

 

 

Caramel Moonpies

You know how I blather on about my mother’s old Betty Crocker cookbook, right?  Well.

Not too long ago, I was thumbing through it remembering the recipes and illustrations I used to enjoy and noticed how beat up the tabs were.  As I looked more closely, I noticed a few things I wouldn’t have paid  attention to when I was nine.  And now, well, I’m not exactly sure how to respond to some of it.

Don’t you just love the hand she has positioned on her hip?  Clearly she has no plan. Can you even imagine?  Horror of all horrors.

Now, I can’t say I actually had a plan in advance of making the wonder I’m about to share, but I knew that if I saved the caramel and chocolate left over from the Banana Caramel Eclairs I made last month, only very good things would come of it.

Have you ever heard of Moon Pies? Not Whoopie PIes.  They have frosting inside and no chocolate on the outside.  They’re soft and chewy.  I’m talking about Moon Pies.  Graham crackers filled with marshmallow and coated in chocolate. If you were lucky, they ended up in your lunch box when you were a kid.

Is it me, or have they shrunk over the years?

If you make them yourself, you can make them as big as you want.

So how does this tie into advice from Betty Crocker that’s about 60 years old?  The chocolate and caramel were left overs, of course.

A bit of a warning before I get started on this post which I have seriously been putting off.  There are lots of steps.  LOTS.  But I’m proud to say it’s my very own creation if I conveniently acknowledge that Moonpies are a very real product that is still sold even if I haven’t actually seen one in years.  So here is my version.

Caramel Moon Pie Recipe

Graham cracker ingredients

2-1/2 c. whole wheat pastry flour
1 c. golden brown sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. kosher salt
7 T unsalted butter, sliced, then quartered, then chilled
1/3 c. honey
5 T milk
2 T vanilla

Directions

  1. Fit the steel blade to your food processor and pulse the flour, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt until mixed.
  2. In a separate bowl, mix together the honey, milk, and vanilla.
  3. To the flour mixture, drop in the butter sections, then pulse until the mixture looks like oatmeal.
  4. Pour in the milk mixture and pulse until the dough is just beginning to form.
  5. Scrape the dough out onto a lightly floured piece of plastic wrap.  It will be extremely soft and sticky.
  6. Fold the plastic over the dough and pat it into a flattened shape that will make it easier to roll once it’s chilled.
  7. Put in the fridge for at least 2 hours.
  8. Place a piece of parchment or silicone on a work surface and unwrap the cold dough, rolling it out to a thickness of 1/4 – 1/8 in.
  9. Using a round cutter about 2-1/2 in. in diameter, press through the dough making as many rounds as possible.  If dough is still cold, peel away the excess dough, leaving the rounds on the parchment or silicone.
  10. Gather up the excess dough, and if still cold, repeat process on a second sheet of parchment or silicone.  If the dough is not cold, wrap in plastic again, flatten, and chill.
  11. Transfer the dough cut outs onto baking sheets.  If the dough is not cold, place baking sheets in the fridge for at least 15 minutes.
  12. Prick each dough cut out with a fork 3 or 4 times then bake in a 350 degree F oven for 20-25 minutes until firm.
    Cool on racks at room temperature.  When completely cool, save in a well-sealed plastic bag until ready for use.

Graham Dough Cutting the Graham Dough Graham Crackers Crispy Graham Crackers

Recipe Notes:

  • This recipe was adapted from one I found at the fabulous 101 Cookbooks, orginally from Nancy Silverton’s Pastries from the La Brea Bakery.
  • It is the most sticky dough I’ve ever worked with, so as long as you know that you’ll need to put it in the fridge when it softens, it’s fine.  I did have to start over on the first work through before I decided to pull away scraps, then chill again.  After that, it was fine.
  • I purchased the whole wheat pastry flour at Henry’s, a local small market that sells it in bins.  It worked quite nicely.
  • These are delicious graham crackers.  They’re quite firm with a nice crunch without breaking when bitten into.  They stay together and were perfect for my moon pies.  They do need to be wrapped tightly to keep them crisp.

For the marshmallow…

I used the recipe for Homemade Marshmallows I found at Slashfood after looking at many. So many people are making them, it was easy to find one.

Marshmallow Homemade Marshmallows IMG_3879.JPG Mashmallow Mess

Recipe Notes:

  • Because this was going into my moonpies, I didn’t need normal sized marshmallows, so I used a small jelly roll pan lined with plastic wrap and sprayed very lightly with oil.
  • Definitely make sure a silicone spatula and your hands are sprayed as well to push the marshmallow into place.
  • I covered the pan with a sprayed piece of plastic and let it sit until completely cool to the touch.
  • To cut the rounds, I used the same size cutter as for the graham crackers.  I should have used a larger one since the graham crackers spread a bit during cooking.  Oh well.
  • Good luck getting the marshmallow all out of the mixing bowl and onto the pan.  Goodness.  It dissolves right away in water, though.  What a mess!
  • Use the scraps of marshmallow by cutting with smaller cutters, placing in a plastic bag with equal quantities of cocoa powder, powdered sugar, and cornstarch.  Shake well and remove marshmallows to enjoy or store in another well-sealed container.  Yummy in hot chocolate!

 

Caramel Recipe

Ingredients

1/4 water

1 c. sugar

2 T light corn syrup

1/2 c. heavy cream, heated

1/4 c. creme fraiche

1 T sugar

1/2 tsp. fresh lemon juice

pinch of salt

1 c. heavy cream

1/2 c. creme fraiche

2 T sugar

Directions

  1. Combine water, sugar and corn syrup in a small sauce pan and stir, making sure all lumps of sugar are gone.
  2. Using a pastry brush, carefully wash down the sides of the pan, making sure all sugar crystals are gone.
  3. Cover the pan with a lid and cook over medium heat for four minutes, then take the lid off and turn the heat to high.  Do not stir or swirl the contents of the pan.  Keep an eye on it, and washdown any crystals that appear on the side of the pan.
  4. Using a candythermometer, when the temperature of the mixture reaches 300 degrees F, reduce heat to medium and continue cooking until the thermometer reads 325 degrees F.  The mixture will be golden, and beginning to darken.
  5. Remove from heat and let rest for about one minute.  The bubbles should stop.  Now add the warm cream to the caramel.  It will bubble vigorously, so be careful.
  6. Now add the creme fraiche, sugar, lemon juice and salt, mixing rapidly.
  7. Let cool completely, either in an ice bath, stirring occasionally, or the fridge, at least 2 hours.
  1. When completely cooled, put a lid on the container and store in the fridge until ready to use.  At room temperature, it will be soft enough to make a thick drizzle when poured.  Cold, it is quite firm.

Building a Moonpie Caramel on Marshmallow Waiting for Ganache Pour on Ganache Glaze

Recipe Notes:

  • This is the best caramel recipe, adapted from Sherry Yard.  The creme fraiche and lemon give it a pleasant tart taste which offsets the sweetness a bit.
  • Follow the directions exactly, and it will turn out just right.  It makes quite a bit, so expect to be able to use it for many delicious desserts.
  • When you add the warm cream, and the caramel bubbles up, it is no overstatement, so be very careful.  Make sure your pan is a good sized one, and you and your surrounding space will be save.  Be careful not to splash.  Pour quickly and get out of the way.
  • I used this recipe for my moonpies because I had it on hand.  Betty Crocker would be so proud, wouldn’t she? Heh.

Ganache on Moonpies

Ganache Glaze Recipe

Ingredients

8 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped small

4 T apricot jam, melted

1/2 c. heavy cream

1/4 c. milk

2 T light corn syrup

Directions

  1. Place chocolate in the top of a double boiler, or a heatproof bowl.
  2. Melt jam over low heat until melted, then stir in the milk, cream, and corn syrup, stirring and bringing to a boil.
  3. Pour over chocolate and let sit without stirring for about a minute.  Stir slowly until all the chocolate is melted, about 2 minutes.
  1. If not using immediately, then reheat over a pan of simmering water gently until glossy and pourable.

Set the Ganache Glaze

Put it all together...

Using a fluted cutter the same size as the graham cracker rounds, cut as many rounds as half the number of crackers you have.  You’ll have lots of marshmallow left over.  Place graham cracker rounds on a baking rack set on top of a baking sheet lined with parchment.  Put a dollop of caramel on each, then place a marshmallow round over.  Spoon another dollop of caramel and top with a second graham cracker round.  Spoon warm ganache glaze over each stack allowing it to drip over the sides.  Place entire tray in the fridge to set.  When firm, wrap individually in baggies and store in the fridge.

But definitely indulge in a snack first.  Just try not to taste one.  I dare you.


Notes:

  • If I hadn’t had the caramel on hand, I wouldn’t have thought of adding it, and that would have been sad since the caramel is excellent on these.
  • I’d try a different caramel recipe that sets up a bit, but not one that is chewy or sticky.  It’s worth experimenting for.
  • I’m still curious about coating the grahams separately, then constructing the pies, but the dribble over the sides adds to their homey appeal.
  • If you want a quick version, then purchase the graham crackers, marshmallow cream, caramel, layer the pies, and make the ganache glaze since it’s incredible, and takes the least amount of time.  The flavors are terrific together, so why not?  But I had quite a bit of fun learning and thinking about how this would all come together.

To make ahead…

  • Make the caramel and store in the fridge up to two weeks ahead.
  • Make the graham cracker dough and refrigerate.  Plan to leave it in the fridge overnight.
  • After the graham crackers are baked, make the marshmallow and let it sit to cool, also overnight.
  • Let caramel warm to room temp, and make build moonpies
  • Make ganache glaze and finish.
  • Roll and bake the graham crackers and let cool.

You want a bite?