Monday, September 20, 2010

Whoopie Frickin' Do!

What’s the big deal with Whoopie Pies? If you asked me three months ago, what a whoopie pie was, I would tell you it was a dessert, but that I had no experience whatsoever with it. Now that I’m on the foodie blogging circuit, I see them everywhere. EVERYWHERE! What’s all the whoopie about?

(Minor irritation side note: Microsoft Word keeps trying to get me to spell it “whoopee” not “whoopie”.) Anyway, so I see all these recipes for whoopie pies popping up all over Foodbuzz and elsewhere with combinations such as pumpkin with cream cheese frosting, red velvet and cream cheese, chocolate and marshmallow, blah, blah. They look so yummy and I was definitely intrigued, but there is something inside of me that goes a little like this then I see a trend…

Me: Ugh, yet another culinary (or otherwise) trend. So, what’s the big deal with whoopie pies?

Anti-Trend: It’s all about throw back. Even if it’s butt ugly, like a 1960’s orange and green owl pendant, it’s cool because it’s vintage (and an owl).

Me: I love vintage. I always have…before it was cool. By the way, that brings me to this question: Why does it seem that when I find something I think is unique and cool and start collecting it, it suddenly gets popular and is no longer as unique as it once was and then I have to find something else obscure to collect?

Anti-Trend: Firstly, it’s obvious that because you start collecting it that it suddenly becomes popular. (rolls eyes) Secondly, you’re talking to me. The mere fact that your imagination thought up a character called “Anti-Trend” is pretty amusing.

Me: Oh, shut up! You’re only here to confirm my stubborn nature to be faux-opposite of trends.

See what I put up with on a daily basis? Okay, so I like to think that I am against trends, but back to the pies. What gives? Well apparently, I do. I just had to make them.

I think what did it for me was the episode of Just Desserts on Bravo. If you didn’t know, I am a huge Bravo fan. HUGE. I love almost everything on that channel…almost. Padma, I’m going to have to say, Gail is showing you up in the hosting category. I personally don’t believe starting every show with Padma blandly saying, “Hail to the chef!” in her classic, bored-to-tears, monotone/robotic manner reflects the fire and excitement of Top Chef. Sorry, Padma.

So, again, back to the whoopie pies...and Just Desserts. Being a die-hard Top Chef fan, I didn’t know if this sweeter version was going to have the guts-n-glory of it’s big brother. Boy, I was wrong! I was completely glued to the T.V. The creativity spilling out the tube was so inspiring! Gorgeous colors and amazing dessert concepts (even if they didn’t pan out) were definitely on the menu. And guess what somebody made? Yes, a damn whoopie pie.

Well, that did it. If it was on a sugar-jacked version of Top-Chef, then I was so there. It was as if that whoopie pie burrowed itself into my psyche and gnawed away until I sorted through several online recipes for whoopie pies until I found one. I just HAD to make them.

So I did. We had the family over yesterday to eat a Mediterranean spread of “kebab burgers” (The hubs came up with that one, which was a great idea. They turned out fabulous…and giant), with all the traditional sides and then for dessert, a big plate of whoopie pies.

I chose to do chocolate cakes with peanut butter frosting…because that’s what was in the pantry. I wanted to do pumpkin ones but I wasn’t running to the store to do it. I used the recipe from the book Whoopie Pies. Amazon has it for 11 bucks or something. I may be purchasing it. (Anti-Trend: You're right, that'll show the trend who's boss.)

The frosting, well, I kind of botched it. It’s Ina’s recipe for peanut butter frosting and it’s so wonderful. I was afraid I wouldn’t have enough so I just started adding more sugar and more peanut butter and my ratios got off. So it was more like the filling in a Reese’s peanut butter cup than frosting, but honestly, who cares?

I think for my first attempt they turned out well. I will make them again, just because they are fun to make, NOT because they are trendy (sheepish grin).

Knock yourselves out…oh wait, you already have. I forgot, I’m the one who’s late to the Whoopie Pie Party.

Chocolate Whoopie Pie

Adapted from Whoopie Pies by Sarah Billingsley and Amy Treadwell

 1 ⅔ cups all-purpose flour

 ⅔ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

 1½ teaspoons baking soda

 ½ teaspoon salt

 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

 4 tablespoons vegetable shortening

 1 cup (packed) dark brown sugar

 1 large egg

 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

 1 cup milk


Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 375°. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter, shortening and brown sugar on low speed until just combined. Increase the speed to medium and beat until fluffy and smooth, about 3 minutes.

Add the egg and vanilla and beat for another 2 minutes.

Add half of the flour mixture and half of the milk to the batter and beat on low until incorporated. Add the remaining flour mixture and milk and beat until combined.

Drop by tablespoons of batter onto the prepared baking sheets at least 2 inches apart.

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

Kathleen’s Peanut Butter Frosting

Adapted from Ina Garten’s recipes

I would double this. Whoopie pies seem to use up a lot of frosting. The Whoopie Pie recipe made about 18 total pies. Yeah, definitely double this recipe.

• 1 cup confectioners' sugar

• 1 cup creamy peanut butter

• 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

• 3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

• 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

• 1/3 cup heavy cream

Place the confectioners' sugar, peanut butter, butter, vanilla, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on medium-low speed until creamy, scraping down the bowl with a rubber spatula as you work. Add the cream and beat on high speed until the mixture is light and smooth.

Now put a nice blob of the peanut butter frosting between two of the cakey cookies and squish- but delicately, because they are fragile.


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