Anatomy of a Classic: Do-It-Yourself Moon Pies

Johnny Autry
by Kim Severson - Virginia - February/March 2014

A homemade take on Mardi Gras's marshmallow treat

David Guas, who makes his living selling the food of Louisiana to the people of Virginia at his Bayou Bakery, Coffee Bar & Eatery in Arlington, developed a Moon Pie obsession early. While growing up in New Orleans, he’d sit like a tiny lifeguard atop the family Mardi Gras viewing ladder as the floats passed by, waiting for the krewes that threw mini versions of the marshmallow-filled convenience-store staple. His daddy would snag a few, and Guas and his sister would ration the chocolaty little sandwiches so they would last the day.

When Guas grew old enough to roam alone, he’d set ambitious Moon Pie–related parade goals. “I’m gonna catch me twenty this season,” he’d say to himself. In high school, the sweet snack became his go-to sustenance for late-night carousing. “When I had a couple beers in me, we grabbed them to keep us on our feet.”

Now that he’s an adult, Guas still gets Moon Pie cravings. But instead of unwrapping a premade version, he hits the kitchen and whips up a fresh batch at home.

He starts with dough made from finely ground graham crackers to give the cookies their characteristic sandy texture. Then he sandwiches a dollop of honey-kissed marshmallow filling in between and dips the whole thing into a warmed mixture of bittersweet chocolate and oil. (The more cacao and the less fat, the harder the coating sets up.) These tiny nostalgia bombs are best the day you make them or perhaps a day or two after. Much longer and the cookies lose their snap.

It takes a little time to separately craft the cookies, marshmallow, and chocolate coating, so Guas recommends familiarizing yourself with the recipe and ingredients in advance. “Don’t be afraid to prep for this unique treat,” he says. “Set everything out first so you can visualize what you want to do, just like it’s a cooking class.” But you don’t have to be a pastry chef to make Moon Pies at home. You just have to think like one.

>Click here for the Mardi Gras Moon Pies recipe

David GuasMeet the Chef: David Guas

Current restaurant: Bayou Bakery, Coffee Bar & Eatery, Arlington, VA
Hometown: New Orleans, LA
Home state pride: When he opened Bayou Bakery, he tattooed an early-1900s map of Louisiana on his arm.
Favorite kitchen tool: A propane torch (“It’s a quick solve for lots of problems”) and an industrial infrared laser thermometer
Dish he prepared when his beloved Saints played the Dirty Birds, also known as the Atlanta Falcons: A Jive Turkey Sandwich