Saturday, 2 October 2010

Whoopie Pies - Classic Chocolate & Buttercream

So then, Whoopie Pies. Apparently these are the new Cupcake. At least they were a few months ago anyway - I may be a little late jumping on this bandwagon. Maybe it's passed me by completely. Who knows! Late or otherwise I finally got around to making some after purchasing a book entirely devoted to Whoopie Pies a few weeks ago. The book, Whoopie Pies by Sarah Billingsley and Amy Treadwell is a very attractive, enticing little book full of pie and filling recipes to mix and match and play around with.

For the uninitiated, Whoopie Pies, or Gobs, originated in the US and are little cakey creations filled with a generous amount of marshmallow or buttercream. Wikipedia and other sources tell me that name arose when Amish women baked these for the local farmers' lunchboxes. On discovering them the farmers would shout "Whoopie"!

I decided to start with the basics by trying out the Classic Chococlate Whoopie recipe filled with a vanilla buttercream. I was hoping to try out the traditional marshmallow filling but this calls for a jar of Marshmallow Fluff which is apparently easy find in the US but much harder to track down over here.

I'm kind of in two minds about the finished product. I think I was expecting something lighter, maybe more biscuity, but they actually turned out to be quite dense, heavy and cakey. The buttercream was also very sweet, although the cocoa in the cakes provided a bit of a counterbalance. At the end of the day though I did like them and they seemed to go down pretty well when I took some into work. One thing's for sure, I'll definitely be making them again and trying out some different flavours and combinations.

Note - As this in an American book the ingredients are all measured in cups or, in the case of butter, sticks or tablespoons. I have therefore added my conversions to metric and imperial for those of you who don't have any measuring cups.

Classic Chocolate Whoopie
(adapted from Whoopie Pies by Sarah Billingsley and Amy Treadwell)

1 2/3 cup/230g/8 1/2oz cups all-purpose (plain) flour
2/3 cup/90g/3 1/4oz unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons/50g/2oz unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 tablespoons/50g/2oz vegetable shortening
1 cup (packed)/170g/6oz dark brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup milk

1) Preheat the oven to 375f/190c/gas 5. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

2) Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt into a bowl. In a large bowl beat the butter, shortening and brown sugar on a low speed until just combined. Increase the speed to medium and beat until fluffy and smooth. Add the egg and vanilla and beat for another two minutes.

3) Add half the flour mixture and half the milk to the batter and beat on low until just incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the remaining flour and milk and beat until completely combined.

4) Using a spoon, drop about 1 tablespoon of batter onto one of the prepared baking sheets and repeat, spacing them at least 2 inches apart.

5) Bake one sheet at a time in the centre of the oven for about 10 minutes each, or until the pies spring back when pressed gently. Remove from the oven and let the cakes cool on the sheet for about 5 minutes before transferring them to a rack to cool completely.

Makes about 48 two-inch cakes.

Classic Buttercream

3 cups/420g/15oz confectioners (icing) sugar
1/2 cup/1 stick/110g/4oz unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 to 4 tablespoons heavy (whipping) cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of salt

1) Beat the sugar and butter together until the mixture is crumbly, about 1 minute.

2) Add the cream, vanilla and salt and beat on high speed until smooth, about 3 minutes.

3) Pipe or spoon the buttercream onto the pies and sandwich them together.

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