Saturday, May 26, 2012

Makin' Whoopie!

Whoopie pies, that is!! Gotcha! I know, I know, I haven't posted in what feels like forever, but trust me when I say that things around here have been so crazy that hectic ran out the door screaming! Anyhow, this holiday weekend has provided me the slowdown I've been craving, so I busted out the mixer (Blue Devil) to whip up some whoopie pies. First, let me say, Thank you to all who have paid the ultimate price for our freedom. Please take a minute this weekend to remember all those who gave their all for us. Now, onto the deliciousness of a whoopie pie. I hadn't made these before for one very simple reason, every recipe I saw for them included shortening. Now, I don't have anything against shortening per se, I just don't care for the smell of it in baked goods or the "mouth-feel" it leaves behind. (you know how when you eat inexpensive cake or cupcakes your mouth feels all coated and greasy? that's the telltale sign of icing made with shortening)
     So, I did some hard thinking and some reading about what makes up a whoopie pie and decided I was going to forgo the shortening and try something else. If you've never had one, a whoopie pie is 2 very cake-like cookies sandwiched with an icing-type filling. Today's is very simple, but now that i know it works, I have big plans to try something special, like a sour cream whoopie pie with brown butter filling (mouth watering yet?)
     This recipe is truly so simple that my 7 year old son helped me put it together. First, here's a shot of the finished product. My recipe makes 13 whoopie pies, and as of 10pm PST there are only 2 left, so I'd say they're delicious too. So here's what it looks like when it's done:
Yummy deliciousness in all it's uncomplicated glory. Seriously, I'm sitting here at 10 o'clock at night trying to convince myself that I don't need to brew a cup of coffee and gobble this down with it! Anyhow, onto the recipe:

For the cookie/cake:
2 C. All purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 C. cocoa powder
1 C. sugar
1 egg, room temperature
1/3 C. vegetable oil
3/4 C milk or buttermilk (I love the tang of buttermilk personally, esp paired with cocoa powder)

For the filling:
1/4 C. butter, at room temperature (don't skimp, use real butter, I mean otherwise, why bother, and really it's
                                                      not like you're eating these every day, right?)
3/4 C. Marshmallow Creme
1 C. Confectioner's Sugar
1 Vanilla Bean or 1 tsp. Vanilla Extract

So preheat the oven to 350. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or spray it with cooking spray. I opt for parchment because it makes cleanup so much easier. In a bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking soda, cocoa powder, and sugar. Don't bother with sifting for this recipe, you really don't need to do it, unless one of your ingredients has very large, hard clumps, in which case you should just replace it. Add the egg, oil and milk/buttermilk.
     Now I want to speak to something here. I always bake with all my ingredients at room temperature unless the recipe calls for something otherwise. Including my eggs. That's right, I pull out however many eggs I need and I leave them sitting on the counter until they feel just cool to the touch. They shouldn't be cold anymore. Room temp eggs combine better. Plain and simple. No, I'm not worried about salmonella from the eggs for 2 reasons. First, eggs are so scrutinized here in the US that I honestly don't feel I have anything to worry over. When was the last time you heard of someone contracting salmonella from an egg? How about from raw spinach? That's because we don't eat raw eggs, which is my next point. These cookies are baked at 350 for 10 minutes, so any "nasties" that might be lurking in there are long since dead by the time I'm gobbling down the cookies. **Disclaimer: I'm not advocating leaving eggs or any other perishable item out at room temperature, you can certainly use them straight from the fridge, this is solely my preference**
Back to the recipe. Once you add the wet ingredients (egg, oil, and milk), whisk it until it all comes together to form a thick batter. Make sure you use a spatula to scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl so everything is well mixed. Once it comes together and you don't see any lumps, put the whisk down. Don't mix it anymore. In fact, at this point, walk away and let it rest for about 10 minutes. Seriously...go...change over some laundry, have a cup of coffee, pay a bill, make a phone call, anything, but just let the batter rest. This is an important step. This gives the flour and cocoa powder time to hydrate, or suck up some of the liquid. You'll notice when you come back to it that the batter will look much thicker. It's supposed to. Now, pull out the sheet pan you either sprayed or lined with parchment paper, and no, waxed paper isn't the same thing, so don't use it unless you fancy a cookie that tastes like a crayon. Scoop out 1 tablespoon of batter every 3 inches apart or so. On my 1/2 sheet pans that means I can bake 6 cookies at a time. I know you're going to be tempted to cram more on, but resist! These babies spread! My trick is to use a disher, or spring loaded ice cream scoop, so all my cookies are the same size. It makes like so much easier when it comes time to sandwich them together if all the cookies are the same size. I used a 1 tablespoon disher, and next time I'll probably step down to a 1/2 tablespoon disher. Understand that you're going to be spending a good deal of time here removing cookies and dishing more batter out here, but it's well worth it. Remember way back I said this makes 13 pies? Well that means you're going to bake 26 cookie disks because each pie requires 2 cookies (top and bottom) and 13x2=26. (See? Isn't math fun?) Bake them for 10 minutes or until they start to look dry and no longer shiny just around the edges. It really depends on your oven. What I recommend is check them at 8 minutes. Press down gently on the center top of one, and if it springs back, it is done. This is one cookie you don't want to overbake, because they're just not as good with crusty edges.
     While the cookies are baking, put the butter, marshmallow creme, confectioners sugar (aka powdered sugar), and the scraped inside of a vanilla bean or vanilla extract into the bowl of your mixer.Use a whip attachment, if you have one. Start up the mixer slowly unless you enjoy breathing in powdered sugar that has been whipped into the air. Once it's incorporated, turn that mixer on high and give it all she's got. This is my oldest son's favorite part and conversely my youngest son's least favorite part. The oldest loves to try to watch the whip spin, while the youngest thinks my mixer is just too loud. Whip this mess like crazy. You want lots of volume because this is your filling. It's not going to look like enough, but it definitely is.
     Once all the cookies are baked, let them cool until they are completely cold. They can't have any warmth left in them of they will melt this filling. Remember, there's no shortening so the melting point is going to be much lower. (see at the bottom if you want the totally nerdy explanation as to why it makes a difference).
Turn half the cookies upside down and divide the filling among them, then smoosh the unfilled cookie top onto them. That's it! How's that feel? Even better, how does it taste? Bite into one and enjoy the rich dry chocolate cake filled with sweet marshmallow-y filling! I love these with a cup of coffee, and like I said, once I figured out how to do it without shortening, I was doing my happy dance! Enjoy!!
 **NERDY EXPLANATION** As for vegetable shortening, it has a melting point of 117 and 119 degrees, whereas butter has a melting point of 82 and 96 degrees. Now, last time I checked, normal, walking around people typically have a body temperature of 98.6 degrees, give or a take a few degrees, but certainly nowhere near 117 or 119 degrees. It's physically impossible for shortening to completely melt in your mouth, even when mixed with other ingredients, because your body just doesn't get that warm. That's why cheap icing leaves a greasy "feeling" in your mouth (and on your kid's hands...but that's a whole other problem)

1 comment:

  1. This looks so very easy! Thank you for sharing. I've never tried making these, always thought they'd be way too time consuming.

    I'm with you on that greasy feeling. One of the reasons I can't eat Krispy Kreme donuts, they leave an awful film. Very interesting about the body temp vs. melting temp. Makes perfect sense.