The Great American Moon Cake

I must admit that until a few months ago I was completely unaware that the first total solar eclipse in 38 years would occur in my backyard. The last one occurred in 1979, but it was kind of a dud; only visible from five northwestern states and since we all know about the bleak northwestern weather it should come as no surprise that it was barely visible.

But this time, things are different. This time the Great American Solar Eclipse will darken the skies all the way from Oregon to South Carolina and cut a swath about 70 miles wide. This stretch of land is known as the “path of totality” and honestly I don’t know whether I’m obsessed with the eclipse or the fact that I live in the “path of totality.”

Some scientists predict this will be the biggest science event in history and we’re lucky enough to dwell in the path of totality. The path is technically the center line of the eclipse and it passes through 12 states. For South Carolina, the predicted viewing time will be from 2:36pm EDT to 2:39pm EDT. That’s not a lot of time, so make plans to experience the totality.

Here are some eclipse facts to help you prepare.

  • A solar eclipse is a lineup of the Sun, the Moon, and Earth. The moon moves between the Sun and the Earth and casts a shadow on our planet.
  • Government Point, Oregon (at 10:15:56.5 am PDT) will be the first to see the eclipse and just southeast of Key Bay, South Carolina will be the last place to view the phenomenon.
  • Make sure your eclipse glasses are up to snuff. While it is safe to look at Totality, (in fact you must look at the Sun without a filter during totality) that’s only a brief time period. www.space.com has more tips on glasses and how to test whether your glasses are safe to use.

If there were ever a good excuse for a party, the biggest science event in history is surely a good one. I’ve gathered a few ideas and recipes to help you create an “outta-this-world” experience.

Menu must-haves include Sun Chips with dip, Moon Pies, Starburst fruit candy and Milky Way candy bars. If you want to whip up something special, make a Craters of the Moon Cake or make your own Mini Moon Pies.

Craters of the Moon Cake

Yield:  4-6 servings

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour

½ cup sugar

½ cup packed brown sugar

4 Tablespoons cocoa powder

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 Tablespoon white vinegar

1 cup milk

5 Tablespoons melted butter

2/3 cup meteorites (chocolate chips, mini marshmallows, nuts)

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Make moon sand: Directly into a 9 or 10 inch round cake pan, add the flour, sugars, salt and cocoa. No need to grease the pan. Moon Sand doesn’t stick.  Mix it together until you have light brown moon sand.

Make craters: Make a large crater in the center of the pan, a medium crater on one side of the big crater and a small crater on the other side. Spoon the baking soda into the medium crater. Add vanilla into the small crater. Add the melted butter into the largest crater making a lunar sea of butter.

Make a Lunar Volcano: pour the vinegar into the medium crater, right on top of the baking soda, so the volcano erupts and lunar lava flows over the surface of the moon sand.

Make a Lunar Flood: Once the volcano subsides, pour the milk over the surface of the moon, flooding the moon.

Make Moon Mud: stir everything together until you have a nice batch of moon mud. Don’t over-mix; moon batter is delicate.

Create a meteor storm: Now sprinkle the chosen meteorites onto the surface of the moon in a random pattern.

Bake for about 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the cake’s center is dry. Let the moon cool in the pan for at least 10 minutes; slice and serve.

Mini Moon Pies

Yield: 12

24 vanilla wafer cookies

1 cup mini marshmallows

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 Tablespoon coconut oil

Lay the cookies out on a clean work surface, curved side up. Place ½ cup of the mini marshmallows in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave for 15-20 seconds, just until melted and fluffy.

Working quickly, spread about 1 ½ Tablespoons of melted marshmallow on the curved side of 6 vanilla wafers. Press a second wafer on top, curved side down. Repeat the process with the second ½ cup of marshmallows.

In a separate microwave-safe bowl, melt the chocolate chips with the coconut oil in 30 second increments, stirring frequently, until the mixture is smooth and melted. Using a fork, dip the cookies into the chocolate and then transfer to a piece of parchment paper to cool. Chill the cookies for 10-15 minutes to harden the chocolate. For best results keep these treats cool.

To drink, try Sunkist Orange Soda or Sunny D. For those who want a little kick with their eclipse, try Skyy Vodka, Blue Moon Beer or make Dark Side of the Moon shots. If your guests need something stronger, you could always resort to Moonshine; it’s a once in a lifetime event after all.  It wouldn’t be an eclipse party without Sun Tea, so use the power of the sun to make tea.

Sun Tea

Yield: 1 gallon

4 family size Luzianne Tea Bags

Water

Place the tea bags in a glass gallon container with a lid. Fill with water and close the lid tightly.  Place outside in the sun for 3 to 5 hours; move the container as necessary to keep it in the sun.

When the tea has reached its desired strength, remove it from the sun (remove the tea bags if desired) cover and refrigerate.