A Trip to the Moon

NASA

NASA

 

I see the moon. The moon sees me.

 

As we contemplate the anniversary of the moon landing forty years ago today, the moon is barely visible in the sky very early in the morning (not my ideal moon-gazing time of day!).

 

It’s the “tiny silver slipper of a moon” of Tennessee Williams, not the rich glowing globe of the full moon.

 

Nevertheless, the moon is never far from our imagination. As an article in yesterday’s New York Times pointed out, the moon has inspired humans for millennia and has held a special place in our popular culture. My favorite moon fantasy is A Trip to the Moon (1902), a charming and playful early short French film by Georges Méliès.

 

A_Trip_to_the_Moon_poster

 

The moon is our sister and our closest celestial companion. Its silver beauty keeps us company, sheds soft light through our darkness, and reminds us that our home is not the only place in the universe.

 

The moon landing itself was one of the most joyous moments in recent American history. I am only 39 so I can only surmise that my vivid memories of it must be prenatal.

 

TV reception is minimal in Hawley, Massachusetts. Forty years ago the residents of Singing Brook Farm all crowded into the Farm’s highest point—the upstairs apartment in the barn, then inhabited by the glamorous Florette Zuelke—and watched the landing on a fuzzy tiny black-and-white television set. Even on that little, dim screen the “one small step” stunned us.

 

In an era in which many Americans were increasingly skeptical about our government and society, the moon landing celebrated some of the best things about life in these United States—our adventurous spirit, our pragmatism, our love of science, our optimism.

 

Today along with the moon landing we remember Walter Cronkite, who narrated that event for us. Recalling the moon landing also brings back some of Cronkite’s outstanding qualities—his sense of fun, his journalistic tenacity, his belief that we as a people could do good and do well.


Watch CBS Videos Online

 

In honor of this sweet anniversary, I offer a sweet recipe for Moon Pies (what else?). Although the Chattanooga Bakery, the inventor of this treat, now makes a variety of flavors (chocolate, banana, peanut butter!), I am faithful to the original moon pie. This is a sizeable chocolate-covered, marshmallow-filled, graham-cracker cookie. It isn’t quite as sizeable as the one NASA is serving today according to the Huffington Post, but then my kitchen doesn’t have as many visitors as NASA–yet!

 

My only deviation was to place chocolate on the top of my pies only, rather than all around them. This made application of the chocolate easier and kept the chocolate from overwhelming the other flavors.

 

The graham-cracker recipe is a very slight adaptation of one from the excellent blog Smitten Kitchen, for which I thank Smitten Kitchen’s writer/cook, Deb.

 

Of course, you’re welcome to try to cut commercial graham-crackers into rounds, but I highly recommend making your own.

 

And now, the recipe……….

 

moon pie web

 

Singing Brook Farm Moon Landing Moon Pies

 

Ingredients:

 

for the crackers:

 

1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
5 tablespoons graham or whole-wheat flour (I used King Arthur Flour’s white whole-wheat flour)
1/2 cup dark-brown sugar, lightly packed
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3-1/2 tablespoons (almost 1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 4 cubes and frozen
5 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon maple syrup
2-1/2 tablespoons full-fat milk
1 tablespoon vanilla

 

for the filling:

 

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter at room temperature
1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup marshmallow cream

 

for the topping:

 

12 ounces milk chocolate (Hershey’s works just fine; there’s no need to get fancy!)

 

Instructions:

 

Early in the day (better yet, early the day before you want to serve the moon pies since the crackers work better the second day) prepare the dough for the graham crackers. Combine the flour, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer. Mix on low to combine; then add the butter and mix on low again until the mixture resembles coarse meal.

 

In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining ingredients. Add them to the flour mixture and mix until the dough just comes together. (Deb warns that the dough will be fairly sticky, and she’s right!) Dust a large piece of waxed paper with flour, turn the dough out onto it, and pat it into a rectangle that measures about 1 inch thick. Wrap it and then chill it for at least 2 hours, until it firms up.

 

When the dough has firmed, divide it in half and return half to the refrigerator. Sift flour onto your work surface, and roll the dough out until it’s about 1/8-inch thick, adding flour as necessary to keep it just workable. Use a 2-inch biscuit cutter to cut rounds out of the flour, returning leftovers to the fridge to chill with the second batch of dough. When you finish with both batches of dough and their leftovers you should have about 16 rounds. Prick a few holes in each round with a fork.

 

Place the rounds on parchment- or silicone-covered cookie sheets about 2 inches apart, and put them in the freezer for 15 to 20 minutes.

 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees while they chill. When you are ready to bake, put the crackers in the oven and bake them for about 15 to 20 minutes, until they are a little brown and slightly firm to the touch, rotating the cookie sheets after 8 minutes.

 

Allow the cookies to cool completely; then place them in a plastic bag until you’re ready to assemble your moon pies.

 

To assemble the moon pies: in the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the butter, sugar, and vanilla, until they are creamy and completely blended. Fold in the marshmallow cream.

 

Gently spread the filling on the bottom of half of the crackers, and top with the remaining crackers.

 

Finally, melt the chocolate in a double boiler, and gently swirl chocolate on the top of each moon pie.  Allow the chocolate to firm up before serving. Makes 8 big moon pies.

 

 

NASA

NASA

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2 Responses to “A Trip to the Moon”

  1. KAFbakers says:

    What a great idea to celebrate a very exciting event! Thank you for using our wonderful white whole wheat flour. Joan@KAF

  2. Nina says:

    Great recipe! And thank you for reminding me about the movie “Trip to the Moon”!!! Hampshire College has a copy of it, or did a few years back when I was at Mount Holyoke, because I wanted to use it as a resource for a paper I was doing about the space program.

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