Dulce de Leche

Homemade Moon Pies

by Shawnda on June 12, 2011

in Cookies and Bars,Dulce de Leche,Project Pastry Queen

Homemade Moon Pies

When I hear “Moon Pies,” I smile.

Do you have a favorite childhood summer memory? I have several. Nearly all of them involve piling in the car, hair hanging in messy damp wringlets, the smell of chlorine heavy in the air. Mom would make the 20-minute drive to Humble (the H is silent!) to the bakery to get bread. And Moon Pies.

My other favorite memories involve picking blackberries, canning preserves at Grandma’s, and entire days spent running between the XLR8 and the Tidal Wave at Astroworld. There were Moon Pies then, too.

If you’re not familiar with Moon Pies, you’re really missing out. They’re graham-cracker like cookies filled with plain marshmallow and dunked in chocolate.

This is my week to host Project Pastry Queen. In the very back of the book, there is a recipe for “Mars Pies.” Mars Pies are a fancier, more complicated version of Moon Pies. While there are times when I’m all about the fancier and more complicated, I don’t think Moon Pies need to be either.

The original recipe for Mars Pies had 4 components and were not a sandwich cookie like the traditional Moon Pie:
Cookie base
A layer of Chocolate-Caramel Ganache
A layer of Chocolate Marshmallow
Chocolate coating

I changed up the recipe so that they would be a sandwich cookie. I chose to skip the ganache since Moon Pies were never that fancy. And it sounded horribly messy in the form of a sandwich cookie. I also chose to forgo the chocolate marshmallow filling for a plain marshmallow filling – and then changed my mind and made dulce de leche marshmallows. My Moon Pies were never that fancy either but, man, that was the best decision I made all day :) Especially the part where I dunked leftover marshmallow squares into melted chocolate and called that lunch.

The Moon Pies won’t actually take you too terribly long to make, just get organized. I made the cookie dough. While the dough was chilling, I cooked the marshmallow filling. I rolled the cookies while the marshmallows where whipping. I put the cookies in the freezer when they came out of the oven to quickly chill them, and then I piped on the marshmallow filling. After the filled cookies sat up in the fridge, I pulled out the chocolate for coating. For a 3 component dessert, they came together relatively quickly! (I said relatively.)

Homemade Moon Pies

The southern favorite Moon Pie gets a homemade makeover with dark chocolate and dulce de leche marshmallow filling.


  • For the cookies
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temp
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cup whole wheat or graham flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • For the Dulce De Leche Marshmallow Filling
  • 1 envelope unflavored gelatin
  • 1/3 cup cold water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup dulce de leche (for plain marshmallows, substitute 1/3 cup water)
  • For Chocolate Coating
  • 8 oz dark chocolate, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp shortening


  1. To make the cookies: Preheat the oven to 350. Line a baking sheet with parchment or a silicone mat.
  2. Cream butter and the sugar on medium until fluffy.
  3. Add both flours, the salt, baking powder, and vanilla. Beat on medium until thoroughly combined.
  4. Turn out dough onto plastic wrap and press into a flat round. Wrap tightly and refrigerate for 20-30 minutes, just until firm enough to roll.
  5. On a floured surface, roll the dough to ~1/8- to 1/3-inch thick and use a 3-inch round cutter to cut 12 circles (knead the scraps together and re-roll to get all of the cookies).
  6. Place the cookie rounds on the baking sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes, until golden brown.
  7. Cookies must be at least room temp before filling so you can put them in the freezer to do this quickly.
  8. To make the marshmallow filling: Place 1/3 cup cold water in the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle gelatin over top.
  9. In a medium sauce pan, heat sugar, corn syrup, salt, and dulce de leche (or water) over medium heat and stir constantly until the temperature reaches soft ball stage (234F).
  10. Add the heated sugar mixture in a slow, thin stream to the stand mixer while on low. Increase speed to high and whip for ~15 minutes, until thickened and cooled (the side of your mixer bowl should feel like room temp).
  11. Transfer mixture to a pastry bag or large zipper bag (using a buttered spoon or spatula is helpful), and snip off one corner.
  12. Pipe 2-3 Tbsp of marshmallow onto the center 6 of the cookies.
  13. Place in the fridge for 10 minutes to set.
  14. Top with the other cookies.
  15. To make the chocolate coating: Heat chocolate and shortening in the microwave until completely melted.
  16. Holding the bottom cookie with your fingertips, dip the cookies in the chocolate and shake to remove excess. Set on a rack above a baking sheet to catch any drips (I didn't coat the very bottom with chocolate).
  17. Refrigerate until set. Store the cookies in an airtight container, each separated by wax paper or like I did - in the fridge on a plate.


Yields: 6 servings

Adapted from The Pastry Queen

Estimated time: 1 hour 30 minutes

You can check out the other Project Pastry Queen members Moon Pies:
Smells Like Home
I Heart Yummy



Snickery Squares

The recipe for this week’s edition of Tuesdays with Dorie was selected by Erin of Dinner & Dessert. Erin selected Snickery Squares, a confection that promised to pay gourmet homage to my favorite candy bar, the Snickers.

Juiced-up beyond the recognizable $2 convenience store snack, Dorie’s version matched a simple shortbread crust with dulce de leche, caramelized peanuts, and a whopping almost half-pound of chocolate.

Snickery Squares

Judging from the mess in my kitchen, you’d swear that it was Thanksgiving and not simply March 1st. This was, by far, one of the messiest things I’ve made in a long time. And I don’t mean just for its size as an 8×8 dessert. The mess in my kitchen rivaled a frosted and decorated tiered cake or a holiday bakeathon :)

Snickery Squares

My husband and our friends really dug the Snickery Squares. I’d make them again. Some of my thoughts… I made my own dulce de leche using a method that has yet to provide timely results. I haven’t found any method yet that produces the results I’m looking for. I wished I’d had enough time to let the dulce cook longer but the Pastry Queen’s estimate of having good dulce in one hour seems to be wishful thinking, even after two hours.

Snickery Squares

There was too much chocolate. Write that down because you might never hear me say this again. I’m actually a little ashamed to even admit it :) I considered swapping out the bittersweet for semisweet because I knew a near half-pound of bittersweet chocolate would overpower the squares. I didn’t. And it did.

Not much of my slaving-over-the-cooktop dulce could be appreciated. To enjoy the simple shortbread crust or the candied peanut-filled dulce layer, you had to pick off the chocolate – an unusual step for me when enjoying dessert. Next time, I’ll either cut the amount of chocolate in half or go with a lower % chocolate. And it obviously wasn’t a deal breaker – there were no other complaints about the 1/4-inch slab of chocolate sitting on top.

Snickery Squares

The candied peanuts make this recipe. They also make a fantastic snack while you’re waiting on dulce to cook.

Snickery Squares

Snickery Squares

For the Dulce de Leche
2 cans sweetened condensed milk

For the Crust
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 Tbsp powdered sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 stick unsalted butter, cut into small pieces and chilled
1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten

For the Filling
1/2 cup sugar
3 Tbsp water
1 1/2 cups salted peanuts
1 1/2 cups dulce de leche (I used two full cans of homemade dulce)

For the Topping
7 oz bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
4 Tbsp (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces

Preheat oven to 350F. Butter a 8 inch square pan and put it on a baking sheet.

To Make the Dulce de Leche
Remove the wrappers from the cans of condensed milk. Puncture the top of the cans with one or two small holes (or just slightly pull the top back of cans with the removable tops) and place in a large pot of water. The water should come up 2/3 the way of the can (add water to the pot as necessary to maintain the water level). Simmer the cans for about 2.5 hours, or until the milk bubbling out of the can is a rich caramel color. Remove the cans from water and pour the dulce de leche into a bowl, whisking until smooth.

To Make the Crust
Toss the flour, sugar, powdered sugar and salt into a food processor and pulse a few times to combine. Toss in the pieces of cold butter and pulse about 12 times, until the mixture looks like coarse meal. Pour the yolk over the ingredients and pulse until the dough forms clumps and curds-stop before the dough comes together in a ball.

Turn the dough into the buttered pan and gently press it evenly across the bottom of the pan. Prick the dough with a fork and slide the sheet into the oven. Bake the crust for 15-20 minutes, or until it takes on just a little color around the edges. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool to room temperature before filling.

To Make the Filling
Have a parchment or silicone mat-lined baking sheet at the ready, as well as a long-handled wooden spoon and a medium heavy bottomed saucepan. Put the sugar and water in the saucepan and cook over medium-high heat, stirring, until the sugar dissolves. Keeping the heat fairly high, continue to cook the sugar, without stirring, until it just starts to color.

Snickery Squares

Toss the peanuts and immediately start stirring. Keep stirring, to coat the peanuts with sugar. Within a few minutes, they will be covered with sugar and turn white – keep stirring until the sugar turns back into caramel. When the peanuts are coated with a nice deep amber caramel, remove the pan from the heat and turn the nuts out onto the baking sheet, using the wooden spoon to spread them out as best you can. Cool the nuts to room temperature.

When they are cool enough to handle, separate the nuts or break them into small pieces. Divide the nuts in half. Keep half of the nuts whole or in biggish pieces for the filling, and roughly chop the other half for the topping. Spread half the dulce de leche over the shortbread base, sprinkle over the whole candied nuts, and then spread the other half of dulce evenly in the pan. (My dulce was still very hot when I assembled the squares so it flowed and spread very easily.)

To Make the Topping
Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water. Remove chocolate from the heat and gently stir in the butter, stirring until it is fully blended into the chocolate. Pour the chocolate over the dulce de leche, smoothing it with an offset spatula, then sprinkle over the rest of the peanuts. Slide the pan into the fridge to set the topping, about 20 minutes; if you’d like to serve the squares cold, keep them refrigerated for at least 3 hours before cutting. Cut into 16 squares. Because my dulce was hot, it took quite a while for my chocolate to set in the fridge. We cut the squares with a hot, dry knife after about two hours.

Yields: 16 2-in squares
Source: Adapted from Baking, From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan (2006)

Last week: Walnut Sour Cream Biscuits



Dulce de Choco-leche Cake
My mom wore many hats while raising four children, including: wife, mother, Sunday school teacher, tee-ball mom, boo-boo bandager, class mom, cook, vacation bible school director, entrepreneur, college student, dish washer, working woman, church volunteer, and Cake Lady.

I remember the first time my mom brought home the fruits of her labor from a cake decorating class she was taking – a round layer cake topped with icing clowns in different poses – talk about impressive! The Cake Lady was born and none of us every had a “regular” birthday cake again. Mom has made fabulous cakes and tasty confections for friends, family, friends of friends of co-workers, and professionally out of the bakery she and my father owned.

Today, the Cake Lady gets to spend a peaceful morning at church a little lighter due to a couple of missing hats: her husband is running around the kitchen whipping up a tasty Tex-Mex meal starring her fabulous beef and cheese enchiladas, her daughter will be bringing over a ridiculously indulgent cake dubbed “Dulce de Choco-leche,” and her son (whether he knows it yet or not) will be doing the dishes afterwards!

Happy Mother’s Day!

I thought about making a “Better Than Sex” cake for Mother’s Day – a 9×13 cake that you leave in the pan, soak with preserves, butter, and/or or chocolate sauce (depending on the recipe), and then frost with whipped cream. It sounded really good for a few days, but in the end, I modified the recipe enough so I didn’t “just” leave it in the pan. There’s no pressure being the daughter of the Cake Lady. Noooo pressure :)

I wanted rich, I wanted indulgent, I wanted decadent – if I’m baking with total disregard for Mom’s pancreas, she has to at least enjoy it! I ended up taking a few of my mom’s most-enjoyed treats, chocolate, caramel, Eagle Brand condensed milk, and bringing them together into a wonderfully indulgent dessert somewhat reminiscent of the original plan.

Dulce de Leche Chocolate Cake
For cake:
2 cups sugar
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup dark cocoa
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water
12 oz dark chocolate chopped (divided, can use chips)

For filling:
1 can Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk

For frosting:
4 cups heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar, sifted

For garnish:
Chopped/shaved chocolate or chopped candy bars

To make the filling: Remove label from can and place upright in a pot of water on the stove. Gently boil the can for approx two hours making sure that the can is always covered with water (a dulce de leche bomb, while it sounds tasty, is not what you want going off in your kitchen). Remove from heat and allow to cool.

To make the cake: Pre-heat oven to 350. Prepare two 9-inch round pans using whatever method you prefer: grease and flour, grease and sugar, baking spray with flour (I prefer the latter).

Add dry ingredients to the stand mixer. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla and beat on medium speed for two minutes. Carefully add the boiling water and mix well (batter will be pretty thin). Pour batter into the pans and top each pan with half of the dark chocolate. Bake 30 to 35 minutes for round pans or until the toothpick test registers done. Remove from the oven. Cool cakes 10 minutes in pan and then remove the cake from the pans and transfer to a wire rack for cooking.

To make the frosting: Beat heavy cream on high until soft peaks form, add confectioner’s sugar and beat for 1 minute more.

To assemble the cake: Level both layers and spoon dulce de leche mixture over the cut tops of both cakes, spread evenly, allow to soak into the cake and repeat – once more for the bottom layer, two or three times for the top (judge the moisture level – too much liquid in the bottom layer might cause leaks). Spread the frosting on the top of the bottom layer and add the top layer. Frost the cake and coat with the garnish of your choice.