Sunday, February 27, 2011
Time to Celebrate!: Whoopie Pies
By the strictest definition, a Whoopie Pie is two small, round chocolate cakes sandwiched together around a creamy filling. If you look up recipes online, you'll discover there is an ongoing debate about whether real Whoopie Pies should have a marshmallowy filling or a creamy filling, whether they can properly be made in various flavors or chocolate only, whether they can be made from a cake mix, etc. etc.. Personally, I think if you spend all your time arguing about what something should be, you miss out on all the fun of eating what you have right in front of you. And what I have in front of me right now are some very tasty treats that my colleagues will be enjoying (or so I hope) tomorrow.
If you're a purist who believes cake mixes have no place in your kitchen, you'll want to move along to another recipe. This is a doctored-up cake mix version of the Whoopie Pie accompanied by a fluffy marshmallow filling. I actually prefer the texture of cakes made from a boxed mix to that of cakes made from scratch, and while I know this is anathema to professional bakers, I can only say that I was a girl raised on cake from a box. I know what I like, and her name is Betty Crocker.
I made both chocolate and strawberry, just in case someone is allergic (or averse) to chocolate, and for some reason the strawberry cakes flattened out a little more--which means the strawberry Whoopie Pies ended up being larger than their chocolate counterparts. This did not, needless to say, elicit complaints from either Mr. Picky or The Girl.
For the cakes:
1 Devil's Food cake mix*
2 T. cocoa powder
2 T. flour
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup oil
For the filling:
1/2 cup shortening
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 7-oz. tub marshmallow creme
1 tsp. vanilla
2 T. milk
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
In a large bowl, stir together the cake mix, cocoa powder and flour. Add the milk and oil, stirring just to combine. Add the eggs, one at a time, stirring until the eggs have been incorporated. You should have a very stiff batter that holds its shape when stirred. Let the batter rest for about 10 minutes, to give it time to thicken further.
Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Use a cookie scoop to measure out about 2 T. of the batter. Do your best to mound the batter and create a rounded shape. Bake the cakes for 10 minutes, until the tops are rounded and puffy. Let the cakes cool completely on a wire rack before frosting them. (If you have time, you might want to chill them in the refrigerator; the cold temperature gives them a little extra stability.)
When you're ready to assemble the Whoopie Pies, make the filling: use a mixer to beat the shortening, powdered sugar and marshmallow fluff. Add the vanilla and milk, then continue beating. Add more powdered sugar, if necessary, until you have a filling that's fluffy but holds it shape when mounded on a spoon.
Now comes the fun part: find two cakes of approximately the same size. Turn one upside down and plop about a tablespoon of the filling on the bottom of the cookie. Gently press the second cookie, right side up, on top of the filling, until it squeezes out toward the edges. Repeat this process until you run out of frosting, then eat any remaining cakes. (Come on, you've earned a reward.)
* For the strawberry Whoopie Pies, use a strawberry cake mix; omit the cocoa powder and add 4 tablespoons of flour. Watch the cakes carefully as they're baking and make sure they don't brown on top.