Monday, May 18, 2015

Southern-Style Whoopie Pies with Cardamom-Marshmallow Buttercream │Done, Gone and Leaving without a Legacy

Southern-Style Moon Pies with a Cardamom-Marshmallow Buttercream

Southern-Style Moon Pies with a Cardamom-Marshmallow Buttercream

There is something indescribably comforting about the South. Look past the stereotypes (and the people who fit them) and the South is truly an inspiring escape.  The land is breathtaking, with rolling hills and scenic views for miles, and the culture is homebound and family-centered. When I think of the South, I think of chirpy old church women making cherry pies, acres of cotton fields, rustic outdoor weddings, and the soundtrack from O Brother Where Art Thou? The food, and the mentality towards it, in the South, speaks to me as a learning chef, writer, and photographer. The way that food centers around family, memories, and joy guides me in the direction of how I want to work with food.

Final exam week is finally over. Compared to previous exam weeks, this one was less stress-infested. My last exam was in Astronomy 101, with a teacher who I truly adored. She had such a love and passion for astronomy. It made me want to be just as passionate and excited about the stars and constellations as she was. We learned about the moon and all its phases, the stars, the planets, the Sun, and all the infinite we call our universe. The class made me realize how small and big we all are and how time and distances are relative. Human time is irrelevant compared the time of the universe. Space runs on a very different clock than we do. The way we view our time here on Earth is vastly insignificant compared to the age and growth of the universe, our solar system, and even our planet. 

Southern-Style Moon Pies with a Cardamom-Marshmallow Buttercream
This thought of space and relativity got me thinking about the term legacy and how I want to leave one. I think most people want to bestow some form of impact on the world after they die. Death is inevitable. Sorry! Spoiler alert. Everyone understands the process of life and death. We live and then die. A simple process. The circle of life. One of my greatest fears in life is leaving behind a worthless legacy or not leaving one at all. I fear not being the man I want to become because of my internal fears of rejection, betrayal, failure, etc. I fear that I won’t be able to do the things I want to do, accomplish all my dreams, and make the biggest impact on the lives I strive to influence because well, time is fleeting. I don’t want to get to the end of my life and see my legacy as mere scribblings in the Book of Life.

If you can get over the existential crisis I just put you through, I’m going somewhere with this. The universe is big, time is infinite, and everything is dying, hooray for fun blog time! Seriously though, this astronomy class made me realize something: we have the chance to leave a legacy. Maybe I won’t be the next Martha Stewart (but I don’t see why I couldn’t be. I have the hips for it) or the next Bobby Flay or Jamie Oliver or Mario Batali. I’m already someone though, me. As human beings living on this planet at this exact moment in time, we have the opportunity to leave a legacy in our daily lives. A legacy that creates a positive presence to the world.  

Opening the door for a mother-of-four with her hands full, complimenting someone on their new hairstyle, smiling at a stranger at the bus stop, or just simply being a genuinely kind person. These are all steps to leaving our legacy. Maybe you won’t be the next JK Rowling, or the next Oprah, but you are someone even better, YOU. Your ability to impact another person’s day, even if it’s for a split second, will still have an impacted in their life in one way or another. Being able to love ourselves, others, and the situations we all find ourselves in are the first steps to self-acceptance, reassurance, and true happiness. 

Southern-Style Moon Pies with a Cardamom-Marshmallow Buttercream Southern-Style Moon Pies with a Cardamom-Marshmallow Buttercream Southern-Style Moon Pies with a Cardamom-Marshmallow Buttercream
Well, that wasn’t what I expected to write. Sometimes my mind goes to some crazy places when I start writing these blog posts. Now how does this pertain to moon pies? In honor of my last day of astronomy and my brother and I’s birthday this past week, I decided to make Southern Whoopie Pies.  I misunderstood and thought whoopie pies were the same as Moon Pies. Apparently they are not which was an emotional blow to me. 

These whoopie pies turned out beautifully. My experience with cake-type baking hasn’t always been the prettiest, but this time was a complete success. I may or may not have patted myself on the back. These cookies were warm, fluffy, light, and just had the subtle hint of sweet and cardamom essences that rounded out all the flavors beautifully. It was bursting with chocolate, marshmallow goodness, and pure deliciousness. I took a few to work, and they were a massive success. Everyone loved these little clouds of heaven. I want to make these again, maybe using a different filling and flavorings. These are perfect for a birthday party or special event coming up. Adapted from the recipe at

Southern-Style Moon Pies with a Cardamom-Marshmallow Buttercream Southern-Style Moon Pies with a Cardamom-Marshmallow Buttercream Southern-Style Moon Pies with a Cardamom-Marshmallow Buttercream Southern-Style Moon Pies with a Cardamom-Marshmallow Buttercream

Southern-Style Whoopie Pies with Cardamom-Marshmallow Buttercream

            For the Cookie
1 cup salted butter softened
2 cups white sugar
2 large eggs
2 cups evaporated milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
For the Marshmallow Buttercream
1 cup butter softened
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups marshmallow crème
1-2 teaspoons ground cardamom


Pre-step: Ponder the meaning of life while curling yourself up in a ball, swaying back and forth in the corner.

Step One: Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Lightly grease a cookie sheet with cooking spray.

Step Two: To Make the Cookie: In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until it is all combined and resembles wet sand. Add the egg, evaporated milk, and vanilla. Mix well. Note: this mixture will look like “the morning after”, but fear not, it improves after adding the dry ingredients.

Step Three: In another large bowl, add the flour, salt, cocoa powder, baking soda, and baking powder. Mix with a fork to combine. Add the flour mixture slowly to the sugar mixture, about 1/3 increments. Mix until all ingredients are combined, and it resembles a thicker cake batter (for a reference: molten lava consistency).

Step Four: Drop the dough onto the greased cookie sheet in 1 tablespoon amounts. Leave at least 3 inches between the drops because these cookies expand while baking (just like the universe!) Bake for 6 to 8 minutes or until the baked. Test this by lightly pressing on the cookie and if it bounces back into place, they are done. Let cool for 45 minutes to 1 hour before filling.

Step Five: To Make the Marshmallow Buttercream: In a large bowl, mix the butter, confectioners’ sugar, extract, and marshmallow crème. Mix until smooth. It may take a little while due to the marshmallow crème being a sticky son-of-a-gun. Add the cardamom and stir to combine.

Step Six: To Assemble: Spread 1 to 2 tablespoons of filling on the flat side of the cookie. Sandwich another cookie on top, pressing together slightly. Serve immediately.


  1. Meghan FaulknerMay 18, 2015 at 6:31 PM

    Wow. Nate, this really hit home with me; as someone who has always felt more at home in the South than anywhere I've actually lived in; as someone who has spent their life living by the cyclic light of the moon; as someone who's biggest fear is that empty worthlessness, is the ephemerality of it all. Thank you for the reminder that time; it is infinite. In the eyes of the universe, our lifespan is a mere blink. And astronomically, we don't matter. Not really. But we, as humans, matter to each other. We matter entire worlds to each other. And I'd rather mean a whole world to a few people than a tiny speck to the whole world. I'd rather leave a daily legacy than be a legend. That, at least in our small human existence, is what's most important. Thank you. I really needed to read this today.

    Anyway. Mini existential crises aside, these moon pies look incredible.

    1. Thank you for the beautiful words Meghan!