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The Baked Whoopie: A Guest Post

La Petite Maison Verte: The Baked Whoopie: A Guest Post

Saturday, October 22, 2011

The Baked Whoopie: A Guest Post


I've got a love jones for whoopie pies and it makes no sense.  There's nothing sensational about a dollop of frosting sandwiched between two cakes.  The traditional whoopie pie flavors of chocolate and vanilla often fail to capture the imagination of palates more accustomed to the exotic recipes inhabiting the foodie blogosphere.   They can be assembled by a five year old with ease.

Nonetheless, whoopie pies flourish thanks to a small subset of the population (among whose number I count myself) for whom mildly sweet treats fail to answer the mail.  For these tortured souls, only the purest and most direct expressions of sucrose (i.e., sweetest-thing-to-cross-thy-lips) can satisfy their sweet tooth.   No surprise, then, that the absurdly high sugar content of its marshmallow frosting vaults the whoopie pie into the stratosphere of my sweetest desires alongside such stalwarts as the creme horn, krispy kreme glazed creme-filled donut and pecan pie.  In any case, whoopies and I go way back.

The love affair began in college.  My then-girlfriend (the lovely Jules of La Petite Maison Verte fame) fatally introduced me to the local Dutch Farmer's Market, which just happened to produce wickedly-good whoopie pies in every conceivable variety - chocolate, pumpkin and red velvet - even chocolate chip cookie.  The cakes were always moist, the frosting light and airy but sweet, sweet, sweet.  After I graduated from college, Jules' mother would often send me back for another week of Marine Corps combat training with a gift-wrapped six pack - by that point, two of them could disappear down my cheesepipe in the blink of an eye.  Oh, don't worry, I'd been training.  Ten years ago, I was that kid in the corner, licking the creme out of the twinkie with a twinkle in my eye.  A miracle I'm not four hundred pounds and diabetic.  Alas, Jules came along and changed my diet for the better.

But that deadly sweet tooth of mine isn't gone entirely...it's just repressed.  So when Jules and I decided to visit vacationland (aka Maine) for a labor day extended weekend trip last year, my desire for whoopie pies quickly rekindled.  You see, not many people realize that Maine is a sweet place to visit (and yes, the double entendre here is intended).  Beyond featuring kick-ass attractions like Arcadia National Park, lobster rolls, moose and blueberry jam....Maine also rivals Pennsylvania Dutch Country as the world capital of the whoopie pie.  Indeed, as cannoli are to Italy, so whoopie pies are to Maine.  Surprised?  So were we.  But me being me, I decided our little junket could double as a quest for the finest whoopie pie the great state of Maine could produce.  And we weren't disappointed.  Nary a bakery, grocery or donut shop on our route didn't offer up their own version of the state delicacy.  By the end of our four-day trip, we had sampled a wonderful assortment of whoopies - cakes alternately dense or spongy, filling thick and granulated or velvety smooth.  But as for finding the "perfect" whoopie pie, well, there we fell a bit short.  And thus began our obsession with creating the ultimate whoopie in our own kitchen.

In the past year, I must confess...I've gotten pretty good at baking whoopie pies.  They almost never come out the same, but then again that's part of their charm.  I make chocolate, red velvet and pumpkin in the fall.  My filling is just the way I like it - virtually pure confectioner's sugar.  And I'm always on the alert for new recipes.

Fast forward eight months.  Julia and I are engaged in one of our favorite pastimes - stalking free samples at the local Williams-Sonoma in the mall, and what to my wondrous eyes should appear?  The "Baked" Cookbook....and eight tiny reindeer (okay, maybe not the reindeer).  For those of you not blessed with the "Baked" experience, let Julia and I assure you that this tiny chain is fantabulous.  Eagerly I began flipping through the Baked cookbook, and on page 76 my heart stopped.  The Baked Whoopie.

Now, I'm a recent convert to the smartphone.  Prior to purchasing an iPhone 4, I happily pecked away on a Motorola Razr (gasp - a flip phone!).  Since my purchase, I had rarely found a use for the numerous gizmos on my new "smart" phone, but that afternoon in Williams-Sonoma, technology proved its worth.  Furtively glancing around the store like an east German about to scale the Wall, I surreptitiously slipped my iPhone out of my pocket, selected the camera, and, chuckling quietly to myself, quickly took pictures of Baked's three-page whoopie pie recipe.



What follows in this post is the results of (our) great adventure to find the perfect whoopie pie.  Of the multitude of examples I have tasted, no whoopie approaches the unfathomably rich, chocolate texture of the Baked version.  Full disclosure:  the Baked filling recipe incorporates raw egg whites.  Jules objects to raw eggs in any capacity, and for this reason the filling recipe in this blog post is uniquely my creation.  Admittedly, the filling requires continued refinement (i.e., more sugar) for my personal tastes, but its light and airy texture is likely more than sufficient for the novice whoopie pie aficionado.  For a more faithful blog post on the Baked Whoopie (including step-by-step instructions for Baked's swiss vanilla filling), see Mango & Tomato.  Please enjoy.



Baked Whoopie Pies


Makes approximately 12 large whoopie pies.

For the cakes:
3 1/2 cups, all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon, salt
1 1/4 teaspoons, baking powder
1 1/4 teaspoons, baking soda
3/4 Cup, dark unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons, instant espresso powder
1/2 cup, hot coffee
2 cups, firmly packed light brown sugar
3/4 cup, canola oil
1 large egg
1 teaspoon, pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup, buttermilk, shaken

For the filling:
1/2 cup, unsalted butter
1 cup, confectioner's sugar
1 1/2 to 2 cups, marshmallow fluff

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda.  Set aside.

In another large bowl, whisk together the cocoa powder and espresso powder.  Add the hot coffee and 1/2 cup hot water.  Whisk until both powders are completely dissolved.

In a medium bowl, stir the brown sugar and canola oil together.  Add this to the cocoa mixture and whisk until combined.  Add the egg, vanilla and buttermilk and whisk until smooth.

Use a rubber spatula to gently "fold" the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients.  Make sure to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as you fold.

Use a small ice cream scoop with a release mechanism (other options include filling a ziploc bag with the batter and piping it directly onto the baking sheet) to drop approximately 1/3 cup batter onto the baking sheets about two inches apart.  Bake for ten to fifteen minutes, or until the cookies are just starting to crack on top and a toothpick inserted into the center of a cookie comes out clean.  Let the cookies cool completely before assembling with filling.

For the Filling:


Chop the room temperature butter into cubes that are 1/2 inch on a side.  Drop into a stand mixer with 1/2 cup confectioner's sugar and 1 cup marshmallow fluff.  Starting on low speed, allow the sugar and fluff to completely incorporate into the butter, and then increase speed to medium for approximately one minute.  Add the remaining sugar and fluff, incorporate at medium speed then beat at high speed for another two to three minutes until the filling is light and airy.  Fill a ziploc bag (or pastry bag, if available) with the filling; pipe the filling in a circular motion on the whoopie cakes for best results.

~Brian

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2 Comments:

At October 23, 2011 at 11:49 AM , Anonymous -Colleen & Ben said...

Hi Brian! I just drooled a little bit!! I am going to make these ASAP!!

 
At October 23, 2011 at 5:32 PM , Anonymous Jules said...

Do It!

 

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