Red Velvet Moon PiesHappy February! So far 2015 has been off to pretty good start with the excitement of my first book hitting shelves in just over 9 weeks (finally!), as well as spring on the horizon. It hasn't been the worst winter I've ever experienced, but spring is always such an awakening, and it's hard to not count down the days. You know? With the book release coming, it will be a really different spring and summer for me--lots of travel and the chance to finally meet a lot of you guys, somehow, someway! I've kind of been living in a little baking bubble for the past few years (which I won't lie, is kind of my thing--I'm an introvert most days), but I guess it's easy to sort of hide behind and apron and a laptop sometimes. I'm just really excited to mix it up and host some fun book events and more. This weekend, cakelets and I made these Red Velvet Moon Pies, we're calling them. While a Moon Pie is an American treat, and I've never actually had one, I do know that they are these delightful treats made from two round graham cookies sandwiching marshmallow filling and covered in chocolate (Michelle from Brown Eyed Baker has an awesome homemade version recipe). Canada's answer to the Moon Pie, Wagon Wheels, is what I grew up snacking on, which are very similar and perfectly tasty. The thing is, after baking homemade treats for so long, going back and having a packaged treat just isn't the same (although there is a time and a place for an official Moon Pie and Wagon Wheel). When you make it yourself though, you get to go gangbusters with making each component as gourmet as you want, such as using real butter, vanilla bean, premium chocolate, and more. And we, of course, get to add sprinkles and add some magic. Although, if you're here visiting my blog, something tells me I don't need to convince you of this! So we did a red velvet version, using a chewy and a homemade-chocolate-chip-cookie texture (these cookies are to die for even on their own--add a few white chocolate chips to the scooped cookie dough before baking for the ultimate cookie), a really marshmallowy, gooey, puffy vanilla bean filling, a deep dark chocolate coating, and a handful of colourful rainbow sprinkles. I figure these would make the perfect any-day treat, but also the ultimate homemade Valentine's Day delight. Aside from being red, what is it about Red Velvet anything that just shouts Valentine's Day? While the taste is subtly chocolate and slightly tangy, I guess it's the intense hue and the mysterious attraction of it? Either way, it just really works. In a pinch you could use a pre-made marshmallow creme, such as Fluff or Jet Puffed, but honestly, the homemade version is to die for (this is the filling from the same Homemade Moon Pies I mentioned above). Sweet and sticky, and to die for. I did try these with a milk chocolate coating, but they were too sweet in my opinion, so I went for a deep, dark (53.8% cocoa solids), but not too dark, premium chocolate which counteracts the super-sweet marshmallow filling perfectly. Not to mention the visual of dark chocolate and red velvet is particularly enchanting. Don't you think? So voila! A Red Velvet Moon Pie, of sorts. This simple-to-make treat appears to be so much more time-consuming than it is (and I'm not just saying that, pinky swear), and has a has serious wow-factor. Cakelets (big and small) everywhere will rejoice!
Red Velvet Moon Pies
Chewy red velvet cookies sandwiched with vanilla bean marshmallow filling and topped with dark chocolate and sprinkles.
For the Red Velvet Cookies:
- 2 1/2 cups 325 g all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons dark cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 stick + 6 tablespoons (210 g unsalted butter, softened)
- 1 cup 200 g sugar
- 1/2 cup 110 g light brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon Red Velvet Bakery Emulsion (see Sweetapolita's Notes)
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vinegar
For the Vanilla Bean Marshmallow Filling:
- 2 egg whites (room temperature)
- Pinch of cream of tartar
- 2/3 cup 215 g light corn syrup
- Pinch of salt
- 1 cup 125 g confectioners' sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
For the Chocolate Coating:
- 12 ounces 340 g best-quality dark chocolate, chopped or callets
- 1/4 cup 60 ml vegetable oil
- Rainbow nonpareils
Make the Red Velvet Cookies:
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment or silicone baking mats. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, cornstarch, and salt. Set aside.
- In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, sugars, and emulsion on medium speed until fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until well-combined, about 30 seconds. Beat in the vinegar.
- Decrease the mixer speed to low, and gradually add the dry ingredients until just combined. Do not over-mix. Using two spoons or a 50mm cookie scoop, drop dough onto baking sheets about 2" apart. Bake for 9 minutes (be sure to not over-bake, or cookies will be dry and not soft and moist inside.) Allow to cool on baking sheet on wire rack for 10 minutes, and then gently transfer cookies to rack to cool completely.
Make the Vanilla Bean Marshmallow Filling:
- Wipe a stainless mixer bowl and whisk attachment with lemon juice or vinegar to ensure it's grease-free. Place the egg whites and cream of tartar in the bowl and begin to whip on low speed. Meanwhile, place the corn syrup in a small saucepan and clip on a candy thermometer. Turn the heat to medium-high and let the syrup bubble. While the syrup cooks, increase the mixer speed to high gradually and continue to beat the egg whites until firm. When the syrup reaches 235°F, keep the mixer to high speed and gradually pour the hot syrup in a steady stream. Continue to beat on high speed until the meringue is thick and glossy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the vanilla bean. Reduce the mixer to low and add the confectioners' sugar. Best used the same day.
Make the Chocolate Coating:
- In a double boiler, or in a microwave-safe bowl, melt the chocolate and oil until smooth.
Assemble the Red Velvet Moon Pies:
- Fill a large pastry bag fitted with a large round tip with the filling (or you can simply spread the filling with a spoon), and pipe a generous dollop on the underside of half of the cookies. Top each one with another cookie and gently press down to secure. Place the sandwiched cookies on a wire rack over a piece of wax paper (to catch the excess chocolate) and pour the coating on top of each one. Guide the coating down the sides with a small offset palette knife of spoon.
- Top with rainbow nonpareils and let sit at room temperature until firm. You can also place the tray in the refrigerator to speed up the process.
- The moon pies will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days.
*Marshmallow filling recipe "barely" adapted from browneyedbaker.com, as well as Chocolate Coating recipe.
- For the red velvet cookies, I use LorAnn Oils Red Velvet Emulsion with its concentrated colour/flavour all in one, it’s worth it (to me), but you can substitute the emulsion for 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract plus 1 teaspoon red soft gel paste colour (AmeriColor Super Red works well).
- I line my baking sheets with Silicone Baking Mats for ease and consistent baking results.
- I always use a cookie scoop--I use the Norpro Stainless Steel Scoop, 50mm (3-Tablespoon) when making this kind of spooned cookie--especially when making a sandwich-style treat such as this one, because it ensures evenly shaped cookies.
- For the Vanilla Bean Marshmallow Filling I used Madagascar Vanilla Bean Paste, but you could also use the seeds from half of a vanilla bean or simply pure vanilla extract.
- To make the Dark Chocolate Coating, I used Callebaut Dark Callets 53.8 %.
- I topped the moon pies with Rainbow Non-Pareils, but you could use any sprinkles you might love!