Alex’s Moon Pies

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So many of you asked for this recipe, and Nicole my web manager, was like “We have to post this story and the recipe!” so here you are…here’s the story about Alex’s moonpies.

My daughter Alex has always been a great baker; maybe it’s her analytic Virgo nature, but baking has always appealed to her. Although she is a good cook, baking is her thing. One of the best things she makes, (her Dad’s favorite) is Moon Pies. This Thanksgiving, she shared the story of how she became acquainted with the recipe I had never heard the story and thought it was fun.

She was not very familiar with Moon Pies. Although it is a quintessentially Southern sweet, it’s not something that she grew up with in our house. Most kids grew up on Little Debbie’s Moon Pies in Atlanta, but not our kids. Although we do enjoy Southern fare, this was not something in the pantry while they were growing up. Not because they aren’t delicious, but they were never on my radar probably because of my Midwestern roots. (Note* I had never tasted a biscuit until I was 23 years old when we moved to Atlanta.) Southern food was a mystery to me. I digress…

Alex went to Law school, and when she graduated she found herself in Fitzgerald, Georgia, in the deep South clerking for a Judge. She loved living in this small town and working in the courthouse. The Judge was very kind, and she learned a lot.

One day, she walked into the Judge’s office and said, “I know it’s your birthday next week, and I would love to bake you something you would enjoy, so if there’s something special you like let me know.” The next day the Judge came into her office with a recipe for Moon Pies. Having never tasted a Moon Pie, she was a bit nervous about making them for his special day. Even though the recipe was involved, she thought they turned out great, although she never tasted the batch, she delivered them on his birthday hoping for the best. The next day he came into her office and declared that the Moon Pies were absolutely delicious! Relived and curious, Alex made the recipe again, this time tasting them. Wow, she thought, worth all the effort. They were truly incredible.

Moon Pies have now become Alex’s signature dessert, her Dad asks for them for all birthdays and holidays. They have become a staple dessert. Who knew what we were missing all those years.

Here is the recipe from Garden and Gun Feb/March 2014:

It is labor-intensive, but truly worth the effort.

Do-It Yourself Moon Pies

For the dough, you will need:
– 6 oz. unsalted butter
– 1/4 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
– 1/4 cup Steen’s cane syrup
– 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
– 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
– 1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs, ground fine
– 3/4 tsp. kosher salt
– 1/2 tsp. baking powder
– 1/2 tsp. baking soda
– 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
– 2 tbsp. whole milk

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For the Marshmallow, you will need:
– F4 tsp. powdered gelatin
– 1/2 cup water, ice cold, plus 1/4 cup at room temperature
– 4 tbsp. light corn syrup
– 3 tbsp. honey (clover or wildflower)
– 3/4 cup granulated sugar
– 3 large grade-A egg whites

For the chocolate coating, you will need:
– 1 lb bittersweet chocolate (61-70% cacao)
– 2 tbsp vegetable or canola oil.

To prepare:

For the cookie dough:

    Cream butter, brown sugar, syrup, and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer, using the paddle attachment, for 1 minute.
    In a separate bowl, combine dry ingredients and mix with a fork. Add dry ingredients to butter mixture and mix on low speed; slowly stream in milk. Continue mixing until the dough comes together. Press dough flat, wrap it in plastic, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
    Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
    Turn out chilled dough onto a flour-dusted surface, then roll it until it is ¼ inch thick. Stamp out cookies using a 3-inch round cookie cutter. Place cookies on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake 10 to 12 minutes. Remove sheet from oven, and while the cookies are cooling, start your marshmallow.

For the marshmallow:

Sprinkle gelatin over ½ cup ice-cold water, and set aside.

Combine ¼ cup room-temperature water, corn syrup, honey, and sugar in a small pot, insert candy thermometer, and simmer until mixture reaches 240 degrees. When the thermometer reaches 200 degrees—but not before—place egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, and whip on high.

Once the sugar mixture hits 240, remove it from heat, and stir in the bloomed gelatin. Then, while egg whites are whipping, slowly drizzle the hot sugar mixture down the inside of the bowl to avoid spattering the hot syrup. Continue whipping for an additional 8 minutes, until the mixture stiffens. The pan will still feel warm to the touch but no longer hot.

Flip over half of the cooled cookies. Lightly coat a spoon with nonstick cooking spray, and spoon approximately a quarter cup of marshmallow onto each flipped cookie. Use the remaining cookies as tops; gently push down until you can see the marshmallow come just to the edge. While making the chocolate coating (see below), allow cookies to chill in refrigerator for at least 15 minutes.

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For the chocolate coating: 

Melt chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a small saucepan of simmering water. Stir until chocolate has melted, then remove bowl from heat and let it cool slightly. Once the chocolate is no longer hot, but warm, slowly whisk in oil in a steady stream. Allow chocolate to cool at room temperature for about 5 minutes before proceeding with assembly.

To Assemble: 

Submerge chilled cookies in the chocolate, using 2 forks to gently lift the sandwiches out of the bowl. Let stand until shell hardens.

Photos: Garden and Gun, Feb/March 2014 Photo Credit : Johnny Autry, Recipe by David Guas Current restaurant: Bayou Bakery, Coffee Bar & Eatery, Arlington, VA

 

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Thanksgiving Cocktail

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I have always loved Frangelico; it is a hazelnut liqueur that is traditionally served as an after-dinner digestivo. There is a legend that Frangelico was made by Friars in the Piedmont region of Italy where hazelnuts are abundant, it has a beautiful, nutty flavor profile.

Even if you’re hosting an intimate, family-only gathering, it’s a good idea to make a batch Thanksgiving cocktail. For one, you can make it ahead of time, and for another, everyone can fill their own glasses, leaving you more time to gather with your guests.

This recipe for the pumpkin monk is a palette pleaser. It’s not too sweet because of the citrus notes, and it has a lovely mouthfeel. It’s a delicious way to enjoy the flavors of the season.

Thanksgiving Cocktail: Pumpkin Monk
serves 16 (or 2 cocktails per person for 8!)

You will need:

– A large punch bowl
– 16 oz. Frangelico
– 16 oz. Appleton Reserve Rum
– 12 oz. lemon juice
– 8 oz. pumpkin spice syrup

To prepare:
Pour all ingredients into a large punch bowl and stir well. Serve over ice in a rocks glass or serve up in a coupe. Garnish with a cinnamon stick.

For the Pumpkin Spice Syrup
*
this makes 1 cup which is 16 servings

You will need:
– 4 teaspoons cinnamon
– 2 teaspoons ginger
– 1 teaspoon nutmeg
– 1 teaspoon allspice
– 1 cup water
– 1 cup sugar

To prepare:
Place in a pot, then bring to a boil and reduce about 10 minutes, set aside to cool.

Photo Credit: Dane Sponberg

xx Annette

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Kumquat Cranberry Sauce

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A staple at our Thanksgiving table is cranberry sauce, but I always like to put my own twist on it. Cranberry sauce is a perfect complement to Thanksgiving turkey, but instead of opening a can, give this easy recipe a try instead. Even though the end product is luscious and luxurious, cranberry sauce can be whipped up in a matter of minutes, and this kumquat cranberry sauce is perfection.

Everyone will love the citrus flavors paired with the tart cranberries, and it will be the star of the meal. This cranberry sauce is especially good once the flavors come together which makes it perfect for leftovers. I like to serve mine from a jar; it gives it a wonderful homemade quality and is a pretty look for the table. Let me know if you give it a try and what everyone thinks!

Kumquat Cranberry Sauce
You will need:
– 2  cups water
– 1 cup sugar
– 12 kumquats cut into circle slices (cut the kumquat across to create pinwheel like slices)
– 1 tablespoon grated orange peel
– 1 teaspoon cinnamon
– 1 teaspoon minced peeled fresh ginger
– 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
– 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
– 1/2 teaspoon cloves
– 2 12-ounce bags fresh or frozen cranberries

 

To prepare:

Combine water, sugar, orange peel, kumquat slices and ginger in heavy medium saucepan. Bring mixture to simmer over medium heat. Simmer 4 minutes to blend flavors.

Add cinnamon, salt and clove and simmer 2 minutes. Add cranberries and simmer until berries burst and sauce is thick, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat.

Refrigerate cranberry sauce until well chilled. (Can be prepared 3 days ahead. Cover and keep refrigerated)

Photo by Stefania Crudeli on Unsplash

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THE BEST Thanksgiving stuffing:: Pear Walnut Crispy Bacon Stuffing

Turkey with Pear Walnut and Crispy Bacon Stuffing

Saying a recipe is the best is a bold statement, I know. But this stuffing really is a game changer. Give it a try and let me know what you think. And if you’re looking for more Thanksgiving inspiration, tis’ the season for my book Picture Perfect Parties. If you want to pull off an amazing holiday soiree, grab a copy!

Pear Walnut Crispy Bacon Stuffing
Serves 8-10

 

You will need:
– 5 slices of bacon
– 1 yellow onion chopped
– 2 stalks of celery chopped
– 3 cloves of garlic minced
– 1 cup toasted walnut halves
– 3 pears cored and cubed
– 4 tablespoons chopped fresh sage leaves
– 4 tablespoons chopped rosemary
– 3 links of Italian sausage, out of the casing and crumbled
– 1 loaf of country bread cubed
– 3 cups of turkey stock

To Prepare:

In a large sauté pan, cook bacon until crispy, drain, and set aside. Reserving about a ¼ cup of the bacon drippings in the pan (discard the rest) sauté the onion, garlic and celery in the bacon drippings, when translucent, add the sausage and sage and rosemary walnuts, pears remove from heat. In a large bowl place the bread cubes and the turkey stock, add the mixture from the sauté pan, and crumble the bacon into the bread bowl combine thoroughly.

Grease a casserole dish pour the stuffing into the dish. Set aside until ready to bake

*Bake for 30 minutes in a 350 degree oven, serve warm

 

Photo Credit: Deborah Whitlaw Llewellyn

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Sneaky Good Side:: Butternut Squash with Chermoula

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You have seen my recipe for chermoula before. I’ve added it to soup and to steak, but one of my favorite uses is to mix it up with butternut squash for a delicious fall side dish. In fact, this would be such a fun addition to a Thanksgiving meal. Let me know if you give it a try.

 Butternut Squash with Chermoula

For the chermoula, you will need:

– 1 cup fresh Italian parsley
– 1 cup fresh cilantro
– 2-inch piece of ginger
– 3 cloves of garlic
– Juice of 1 lemon
– 1 cup of oil
– Salt and pepper
– 2 teaspoons coriander seeds

To prepare:

In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade, add all ingredients and pulse until it forms a loose smooth sauce, about 1 minute.

For the butternut squash, you will need:
– 4 cups of cubed squash (cubes should be about 2 inches square)
– 4 tablespoons of prepared chermoula
– 3 tablespoons of olive oil
– 1 teaspoon of salt

To prepare:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Combine the Charmoula, oil and salt in a large bowl. Add the cubed squash and toss with a spoon. Place the marinated squash into a 12″x 8″ baking dish.

Place into the oven for 1 hour until golden brown.

 

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