Sunday, July 25, 2010

Classic whoopie pies

There is not a vegetable, whole grain, or local ingredient to be found in this recipe, but that's ok, because these are delicious and should be eaten anyway. For those who don't know, a whoopie pie consists of two cake-like cookies sandwiching a layer of creamy filling. Think of a softer, more yummy Oreo. I got this recipe from a cookbook aptly named Whoopie Pies, by Sarah Billingsley and Amy Treadwell, that was recently given to me as a gift (thanks Katie!). I made a classic version with chocolate cakes and a buttercream filling. We served them at a dinner party with homemade cheese straws (post coming soon) and pizza -- kind of a gourmet junk food theme. I wasn't really a huge whoopie pie fan before, but I am now! I'm looking forward to trying some more creative flavor combinations...

Classic whoopie pies
Adapted from Whoopie Pies

I got about 17-18 whoopie pies from this recipe.

Chocolate cake:
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
4 tbs unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 tbs vegetable shortening
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup milk

Put a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 375 deg F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper (I tried parchment paper as well as Silpat mats, and found that the Silpat resulted in a thicker, more rounded cake, which I liked better).

Sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl. In the work 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 speed to medium and beat until fluffy and smooth, about 3 minutes (this took less than 2 minutes for me, fyi). 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 just incorporated. Scrape down sides of bowl as necessary. Add remaining flour mixture and milk and beat until completely combined.

Using a spoon or cookie scoop, drop about 2 tbs of batter onto the baking sheets, spacing them at least 3 inches apart (for smaller cakes, you could do 1 tbs of batter spaced 2 inches apart). Bake one sheet at a time for about 10 minutes each, or until pies spring back when pressed gently. Remove from oven and let the cakes cool on the sheet for about 5 minutes before transferring them to a rack to cool completely.

Buttercream filling:
3 cups confectioners' sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 tbs heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
Pinch of salt

In the work bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the confectioners' sugar with the butter, starting on low and increasing to medium speed, until the mixture is crumbly, about 1 minute. Add the heavy cream, vanilla, and salt and beat on high speed until smooth, about 3 minutes.

Note: I had a good amount of filling left over after I assembled the pies. I'm guessing that we used about 2/3 of the amount this recipe makes. But if you like a thicker layer of filling, go for it.

Spread filling onto the flat side of one cake using a knife, spoon, or pipe filling with a pastry bag (a round tip or no tip at all should work). Top with another cake, flat side down.

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