It seems like everyone has caught eclipse fever recently, and I am no exception! I often joke that if I had been better at math I would have become a meteorologist, and events like the total eclipse that passed over most of the United States yesterday are so interesting. In honor of this, I’m doing a post type that I have never done before. This will be a theme post; it’s a bit eclectic, but I hope it will be fun and appropriate to this event!
I’ve been hearing about this total eclipse for years. While I couldn’t find it recently, I have a memory of one of my junior high science teachers giving us handouts about it nearly ten years ago. I’ve always had a casual interest in the stars, from the time when I was growing up and my big sister wanted to be an astronaut, to the time I began reading Bradbury in junior high, to today when I follow NASA on social media and occasionally look for planets or constellations. The cool thing is, astronomers are constantly learning new things about the universe we live in, and there are plenty of opportunities for anyone with any level of interest to get a glimpse of the cosmos and what is going on in it. So when something like this happens, and nearly the entire country stands still together for a few minutes to stare at this incredible event, it gives me goosebumps. As a Christian, I’m in awe of the Creator God who put everything in place for this to happen, and for the ability of scientists to figure out in advance when things like this are going to happen. In this modern era, people find so many trivial reasons to distinguish themselves from one another and fight, but something like this that is beyond the influence of even the smartest or strongest, gives us a reason to forget our prejudices, lay down our anger, and stand together, at least for a moment.
Both of my parents and I were able to get off of work this day, so we spent it together. My dad put together a cool viewer, and we split our time between the TV channels, our homemade viewer, and NASA’s livestream. I may not always appreciate the gobs of technology that have invaded everyday life, but today I was thankful for the chance to see so many different perspectives of the eclipse. It is so cool to be able to see what is happening in cities across the entire continental U.S., from Oregon to South Carolina, as well as what is in my own neighborhood. There were events galore that I could have attended celebrating the eclipse, and while any of them would have been interesting, I got more out of it by staying home where I was able to keep tabs on several different sources and hang out with my family.
I also spent a good chunk of the day making what I’m calling Mini Eclipse Pies. The recipe is a twist on Moon Pies, and inspired by this article and recipe which I found through Pinterest. However, I changed quite a few things and they came out very different from the original recipe. I’m going to share with you what I did and a few pictures of how they turned out, but please keep in mind, I’m a book blogger, not a food blogger nor a professional photographer! Also, I must admit that I cannot remember ever having an actual Moon Pie, so if you are amazed that I can even compare my creation to them, blame it on my ignorance of the original. What I made is certainly different from them in many ways, but was definitely inspired by them.
The original recipe claims to take less than ten minutes, but I spent a few hours on my creation. Granted, it’s also already been stated that I spent the entire time leading up to the eclipse bouncing between news sources and my own setup, so I was not entirely focused on baking. Even if I had been, it would have taken significantly longer than ten minutes.
The basis of the Eclipse Pie is marshmallow creme in a vanilla cookie sandwich. I used pre-made Nilla Wafers, but if you really want to make everything from scratch, I imagine a shortbread cookie might work as well. It would need to be a crunchy cookie, not soft, but anything with a subtle flavor like vanilla, shortbread, or sugar would probably be just as good. Precise measurements are not essential to this recipe, but I used approximately 3/4 tablespoon of creme per cookie sandwich set. Here’s what mine looked like at this point.
You can tell I played around with how much filling to use, and came to the conclusion that with too much filling, the top cookie tends to slide around and refuses to stay in place. The sturdier the sandwich at this point, the better it will do with the future instructions.
After you’ve got the cookie sandwiches made, it’s time to dip them. Be sure you line whatever pan or surface you are going to place them on after dipping with waxed paper or parchment paper. This helps make clean-up a lot easier, plus it keeps the cookies from sticking to your pan. The original recipe, as well as actual Moon Pies, call for dark chocolate as the coating. However, I happened to have a package of vanilla almond bark left over from a previous recipe, so I decided to use that instead. I’ve made a few things before that required dipping in chocolate or something similar, and they rarely turn out well. For the most part, when I have to dip things in chocolate, they tend to fall apart, not coat evenly, or the chocolate seizes (clumps together) and the project is either ruined or extended for hours on end of frustration. Needless to say, I was a little nervous about this, but I was hopeful that this would go well because the cookies seemed sturdier than most of the things I have dipped. Surprisingly, this was the easiest chocolate dipping recipe I have made. The recipe called for adding some coconut oil to the chocolate before melting, and while I wasn’t sure what affect this would have on almond bark, I went ahead and tried it, with good results. The more you use, the shinier the melt becomes, and it seems like it might help it keep from seizing, especially when reheating. The almond bark melted easily, and after the first few, I was able to get into a fairly good rhythm of dipping. The cookies held together, and while they did not coat entirely evenly, there were no bare spots or major clumps. The biggest issue I had was that the ones that with lids that had slid looked even funnier after they were dipped. Here they are freshly dipped:
You can tell that I got better as I went, and while I’m definitely not a skilled hand, they aren’t too bad! The bark becomes more difficult to work with as it cools, so every once in a while I would reheat mine and add another bar of unmelted bark, as I also started out with not enough melted. A lot of measurements were adjusted between my trip to gather the ingredients and the finished product.
After the cookies have been dipped, they need to be allowed to cool before proceeding. Putting them in the refrigerator can speed this up, but they should cool and solidify just as well, if more slowly, if left out. Also, this is where the original recipe ends. Once the coating has solidified, if you’re using dark chocolate, you have what looks like a mini Moon Pie! If like me you used almond bark, you now have what looks like a white Moon Pie. In honor of the eclipse, I decorated my cookies to look like different stages of the eclipse, imagining the white cookie as the sun and “painting” on the moon.
I used chocolate melts for this part, and was again surprised to find that they worked very well. I melted the entire container of melts, as I had no idea how much I would need, and using a toothpick, attempted to draw the moon onto the cookies. Here’s what I ended up with.
Again, they’re obviously not done by an expert, but I don’t think they’re half bad for an amateur who doesn’t even bake that often! Again, you should let these cool for a while after painting the moon portion, otherwise it can smear or drip when you pick it up.
So there you have it! The first recipe I’ve ever shared, and a fun thing to try for the eclipse (or if you just want a mini imitation Moon Pie).
But I can’t end this post there! I also have a book recommendation, because what would a post on this blog be without one?
A few years ago I read a book called Every Soul A Star by Wendy Mass. I actually thought that I had reviewed it on here before, but it turns out I didn’t really say much about it. My review on Goodreads is similarly short, but I’m drawing on that review a lot for this one due to the fact that it has been at least two years since I read this book.
Every Soul a Star is written on about a middle school reading level. That said, it’s still a good read as an adult. It is aimed at readers who are a bit younger though, and the main characters are all around that age as well.
The time frame revolves around the lead-up to and occurrence of a total solar eclipse and how it affects three students. Ally, who narrates the majority of the chapters, is a very smart girl who has lived most of her life in the campground her scientist parents own. Ally’s perspective is the one that I remember the most, but each was enjoyable and unique and should help readers with various backgrounds connect to the story.
Over the course of the summer leading up to the eclipse, the other two protagonists, Jack and Bree, find themselves at Ally’s family’s campground for the eclipse. There, they build a friendship that defies their expectations and teaches them a lot. It is a coming of age story, and by the end you see that Ally, Jack, and Bree have all matured and changed in various ways. Their futures are a bit more optimistic now that they have taken some time out of their normal routines to experience this incredible event. More significant than the eclipse, however, is the result of their willingness to take time to get to know one another.
In all honesty, Every Soul a Star is a pretty simple book, so while I recognize that this is still a relatively short review, there is not a lot more that I can say about it. However, it packs a significant message. It deals with the negative effects of cliques, the importance of true friendship, and incorporates a rare natural event. If you know a middle schooler who is interested in science but doesn’t like to read, this is a good book. If you’re an adult in need of a reminder of the benefits of getting outside of your comfort zone, it’s even better. The story is easy to read, largely because it is aimed at a little younger audience, but the message is just as applicable at any age. It’s a feel-good story that is not completely fluff. If you’re looking for something to read to keep the energy of this eclipse going, I highly recommend it. Apparently I gave it four stars on Goodreads, so I’ll stick with that rating now.
For further reading in eclipse-themed books, here’s Goodreads’ list titled “Lunar & Solar Eclipses – Fiction and Non-Fiction.” Every Soul a Star is the only one on this list that I have read, but some of the others look interesting, especially the non-fiction titles.
Did you do anything interesting for the eclipse? Or do you have a book to recommend that features an astronomical event? Tell me about it in the comments! I love hearing from my readers!
P.S. Photo credit for my cover photo: Parade.com, who in turn got it from shutterstock. All other photos are my own, excluding official book covers, unless otherwise noted.