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MoonPie Madness

I can remember eating a few banana-flavored MoonPies as a kid, but can honestly say I haven’t had one since. Not so for the people of Mobile, Ala. On New Year’s Eve, the MoonPie madness kicks off with the annual Moonpie Over Mobile. When the clock strikes midnight, a 600-pound electronic MoonPie rises above the city skyline to signal the start of the carnival season. In 2008, the city partnered with founder of the MoonPie, Chattanooga Bakery, to serve up the world’s largest marshmallow sandwich, weighing in at 55 pounds and four feet in diameter. The bakery also handed out 5,000 of the treats.

In Mobile, the MoonPie obsession continues through Fat Tuesday, as the sandwiches are a popular throw for krewes. Chattanooga Bakery’s website explains how the sandwich made its way to Mobile from Tennessee. “If you’ve ever caught a MoonPie from a parade float on the Gulf Coast, you have the 70’s to thank,” the site says. “Early on, paraders threw Cracker Jack boxes to hungry revelers, but those didn’t feel so hot in the side of the head.”

According to mardigrasdigest.com, Cracker Jacks were banned as throws in 1972, and two years later the Maids of Mirth began throwing MoonPies, a much softer alternative. Now available in many different flavors, the newest being chocolate mint, parade goers should also be on the lookout for strawberry, lemon, orange peanut butter and coconut flavored MoonPies.

Wondering what to do with all of those MoonPies after Mardi Gras, Daphne, Ala., Chef Will Hughes started making Moonpie Bread Pudding on Ash Wednesday. Here’s his recipe from MobileBay Monthly.

Moonpie Bread Pudding
15 eggs
32 ounces whole milk
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground clove
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 small loaf French bread, diced
10 double-stack MoonPies or 15 regular MoonPies (any flavor), diced
1 tablespoon butter (for greasing baking dishes)
1/2 stick butter
Rum Sauce (recipe below)
chopped pecans for garnish, if desired

In one bowl, combine first 7 ingredients. In a separate bowl, combine bread and MoonPies. Pour liquid ingredients over bread and MoonPie mixture. Gently fold to combine. Butter two 9 x 13-inch baking dishes and divide mixture evenly between them. Refrigerate for an hour and a half. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cube 1/2 stick butter and distribute evenly over top of each dish. Bake uncovered in a water bath for 45 minutes, or until a toothpick stuck in the center comes out clean. Drizzle warm Rum Sauce over top. Garnish with chopped pecans. Serves 15 – 20.

Rum Sauce
Use any dark rum
1 pound unsalted butter
1 pound dark brown sugar
1 quart heavy cream
1/4 cup dark rum

Combine ingredients in a saucepan and whisk constantly. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Turn off heat.

Will Hughes Catering and Market is located at 1716 Main St., in Daphne. Visit their website for more info. For more MoonPie recipes, see the “Recipe” section of the MoonPie website.

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