I’m a bit of a science geek. Maybe more of a space nerd. I just adore anything I read about space, the universe, the possibilities. So, I was drawn to the recently published THE DARKEST DARK by astronaut Chris Hadfield with Kate Fillion and illustrated so perfectly by The Fan Brothers. (THOSE DRAWINGS!!!)
The theme is fear . . . better yet, fear of the dark, which will always get a visceral response from children. They will sit at the edge of the bed connecting with the protagonist, a young Chris Hadfield, wondering what is going to happen to him in the dark, especially since he dreams of being a brave astronaut who throttles through the vastness of space. So, young Chris needs to find his brave and battle his feelings about the dark.
He does this in many ways — pulling up his covers, finding solace with his parents, making his parents search his room for the things that go bump in the night. This tension is coupled with artwork of shadowy “aliens” lurking around in Chris’s bedroom. Nothing seems to work besides being so overtired he can’t help but fall asleep and slip into his favorite dream about space exploration with his sidekick Albert the pug (OH MY GOSH, I LOVE PUGS!).
His sleepless nights dovetail into the evening of July 20, 1969, when Apollo 11 lands on the moon. And what stands out to Chris as he watches (huddled around a TV with all his neighbors and family) is the thorough darkness of space — the space of his dreams. Because of his passion, Chris decides that night to face his fear and see if what he believes about the dark is true or all in his head.
The take-away from this inspiring picture book is your dreams are the ultimate companion and security blanket to face your fears, although having a pug doesn’t hurt. 😉 The discussion I had with my son after reading this book was one I will not forget. He shared his passions and what he dreams of becoming, and in that moment he felt nothing could hold him back. Don’t we need more of those moments in life?
If this book were a pie? Well, this one was a no-brainer. I’ve made a Moon Pie Pie. Yep! With all its marshmallowy, chocolately, graham cracker crumby goodness. This one is for all those I’m-an-astronauts-in-my-dreams kind of kiddos. Have your mom or dad make this for you! Unfortunately, moms and dads, there is absolutely nothing healthy about this pie. Nada. Zilch.
MOON PIE PIE
Graham Cracker Crust
3 cups finely crushed graham crackers
2/3 cup butter, melted
Marshmallow Fluff (or you can cheat and use the premade kind…no judgment here, folks)
1/4 cup and 2 tablespoons water
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup light corn syrup
4 egg whites from 4 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
Pinch of salt
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
6 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped
3/4 cup heavy cream
Crust: Heat oven to 350°F. In a medium bowl, stir in graham cracker crumbs and melted butter until well mixed. Reserve half of the mixture for later. Press half of the mixture firmly and evenly against the bottom and side of a pie plate. Save the other half. Bake for 10 minutes or until light brown. Cool on cooling rack.
Fluff: Place the water, sugar, and corn syrup in a medium saucepan over medium to high heat until the mixture reaches 240°F on a candy thermometer, typically 10 to 15 minutes.
While the sugar is heating, place the egg whites in a bowl and use an electric mixer with the whisk attachment to beat the eggs on high until foamy. Add the cream tartar and salt. Continue beating eggs on high until soft peaks form.
Once the sugar mixture reaches 240°F, remove from heat and let rest for 20 seconds. With the mixer on high, slowly stream the sugar mixture into the egg whites. Add in the vanilla. Continue to mix for 8 minutes or until the outside of the bowl returns to room temperature. Mix until medium to stiff peaks form. Put aside the marshmallow fluff.
Chocolate ganache: In a microwave-safe bowl, combine the chocolate with the heavy cream and microwave at high power in 20-second intervals (stirring each time) until the chocolate is melted, the cream is hot, and the ganache has a dark brown/glossy look. Let cool to barely warm.
Spread a third of the chocolate into the graham cracker crust to just cover the bottom. Place in the refrigerator to cool for 15 minutes.
After 15 minutes, take out the crust and spoon the marshmallow fluff on top. Smooth the top of the fluff with a spatula. Take the remainder of the graham cracker mixture and sprinkle it on top of the fluff. Finally, pour the rest of the chocolate ganache on top of the graham cracker mixture, smoothing it with a spatula. Place in the refrigerator to cool for 30 minutes to an hour or until chocolate ganache hardens.
2 hours (45 minutes active); serves 8 (depending on how big your slices are)