Whoopie Pies

whoopie pies

For such a humble confection there sure is a lot of hoopla surrounding the whoopie pie — an argument between states about their origins, a multitude of recently published books, specialty bakeware, small appliances and surely more. I’m not going to get in the middle of the Maine vs. Pennsylvania fight, but wherever they began, the story goes that they were a way for bakeries to use up any leftover cake batter (possibly with a small addition of flour) and frosting that would otherwise go to waste. That’s it.

My whoopie pies have an origin story of their own. Remember the Vanilla-Crème Filled Chocolate Cupcakes with Bittersweet Chocolate Ganache? Well, they started out as a whoopie pie experiment gone wrong. I was making my third, small batch of whoopie pies one night last spring when I accidentally mixed in the full amount of buttermilk instead of half. I immediately realized my folly, but scooped and the batter onto a sheet pan regardless. While they were the flattest disks ever, I was confident that they would bake up into lovely cupcakes — a hypothesis later tested and concluded to be true — so all was not lost. However, while the cupcakes are chocolaty enough due to the a drizzle of ganache on top, for whoopie pie purposes the flavor was a bit lacking. I was terribly tempted to add a ganache filling or topping and call it a day, but opted to add melted bittersweet chocolate to the batter instead to keep things classic. Bingo!

While they do have a tendency to stick to the serving plate if left for too long, I’m absolutely willing to forfeit a quarter teaspoon of cake in order to have the benefit of such a moist, finger lickin’ good (is this trademarked?) dessert. And, let’s be real, wherever Marshmallow Fluff is involved there is going to be a certain amount of messiness anyway. As for the filling, depending on how stuffed you like your whoopie pies you’ll use anywhere from three quarters of it to the entire amount — any extra is quite good spread on some graham crackers.

A Few More Words about Technique and Equipment:

Technique:

I’ve shown exactly how to assemble a pastry bag and provided specific wording related to how to hold the bag — parallel to the surface for everything — to achieve the pictured result. I’ve found that it’s really is easy to get uniform whoopie pies this way without spending a lot of time. If you’re just getting into cake decorating, I highly recommend taking a Wilton Method: Decorating Basics class or teaching yourself using the lesson plan alone. The latter is certainly the less expensive and more convenient route — lugging cakes, frosting, tools, etc. to and from Michael’s (or wherever) is slightly tedious — all the class fee provides is a teacher, a yard of table space (if you’re lucky!) and the very same lesson plan you can order online. Either way you go, you’ll need the Wilton Student Kit – Basic Decorating, which includes the tips I use most often (oh, and even though I provided a link to the item through JoAnne Fabrics, I highly recommend buying it through Michael’s with a 40% off one regularly priced item coupon).

Equipment:

Because of the frugal origins of the whoopie pie, I have a slight problem with the single-task kitchen items marketed lately to make them. Regardless, I’m not a fan of single-task kitchen gadgets when they aren’t absolutely necessary for two reasons: limited storage and, quite frankly, cash. (If you feel that I’m overlooking something, and just being too-quick-to-dismiss the whoopie pie pans and makers, let me know; I’m certainly open to hearing about how awesome/helpful/etc. they are!) While I do recommend a fair amount of kitchen equipment here — large, rimmed baking sheets, silicone baking liners, pastry bags/tips/couplers — you will use these items over and over again, and probably own a lot (if not all) of them already.

Whoopie Pies

(filling heavily adapted from Marshmallow Fluff)
Preparation Time: 30 minutes, plus cooling
Baking Time: 10 minutes
Makes: 2 dozen sandwiches

Ingredients

Dry Ingredients:

  • 96 grams (1/2 cup) golden brown sugar, packed
  • 24 grams (2 tablespoons) granulated white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 37 grams (1/4 cup plus 2 1/2 teaspoons) millet flour
  • 37 grams (1/4 cup plus 2 1/2 teaspoons) garbanzo fava flour
  • 48 grams (1/4 cup) potato starch
  • 19 grams (2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon) arrowroot starch
  • 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
  • 1 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon instant espresso powder¹
  • 20 grams (1/4 cup) unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder²

Wet Ingredients:

  • 57 grams (2 ounces) bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened)³, melted and cooled
  • 57 grams (1/4 cup) canola oil
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 5 grams (1 teaspoon) vanilla extract
  • 170 grams (3/4 cup) well-shaken buttermilk

Vanilla-Crème Filling:

  • 113 grams (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 jar (7.5 ounces) Marshmallow Fluff
  • 7 grams (1 1/2 teaspoons) vanilla extract
  • 180 grams (1 1/2 cups) powdered sugar, sift after measuring

Instructions

Setup:

Arrange racks on the upper- and lower-thirds of the oven (my oven has six level options, I placed the racks on the fifth [from the bottom] and third). Preheat oven to 350°F.

Line two, large, rimmed baking sheets with silicone baking mats (or parchment paper, please note that the batter’s moisture will likely pucker the paper so the bottoms won’t be totally flat). Using a 1″ – 1 1/2″ round cookie cutter (I own a 4 piece set by Ateco, both the plain round and fluted, available through Amazon), mark 24 circles on each baking sheet — dip it in confectioner’s sugar if using a baking mat, trace with a pencil if using parchment. Set pans aside.

Fit a pastry bag (disposable or reusable) with standard coupler and round tip Wilton #12, fold over top. See photos below for a visual how to (please pardon my sparkly manicure!), mouse over photos for step descriptions (click to be redirected to large images on flickr).

Make, Bake and Cool:

In a medium bowl, whisk together sugars and salt. Using a fine mesh sieve, sift millet flour through cocoa powder into sugar mixture. Whisk together until combined. In a small bowl (or two cup measuring cup), use a fork (or whisk) to stir together melted and cooled chocolate and oil. Add egg, mix until everything is nicely combined and thickened slightly (about 15 – 30 seconds). Stir in vanilla extract then buttermilk. Pour wet ingredients into flour mixture and stir together just until lump free (use a rubber scraper to get any flour pockets that like to hide on the bottom).

Place about half of the batter into the prepared pastry bag. Hold bag with tip parallel to the cookie sheet and about 1/2″ above it. Applying even pressure without raising the bag, pipe circles of batter just within the markings (if using a 1 1/2″ template, go slightly beyond if using 1″ — either way, you want about 1 1/4″ circles of batter). Stop pressure and make a small circular motion to prevent a peak from forming (if you get a peak, just moisten your fingertip with a little water and pat it down — no biggie). Repeat with remaining batter.

Place baking sheets on upper- and lower-thirds of the oven and bake for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, switch positions and bake for another 5 minutes (a toothpick inserted should come out clean). Allow to cool on the baking sheets for 10 minutes before removing with a thin pancake turner/spatula to cooling racks. Allow to cool completely before filling.

Make Filling and Assemble:

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip butter on medium speed until light and fluffy — about 1 minute. Add Fluff to butter and beat for 1 minute or until well combined. Add vanilla extract. With mixer on low speed, add powdered sugar; once the powdered sugar is incorporated, increase speed to medium, and beat for 1 additional minute.

Transfer filling to a pastry bag fitted with a coupler and round pastry tip Wilton #12. Keeping tip about 1/4″ above and parallel to the surface (bottom of one of the baked halves, just as you did when piping batter circles above), pipe a coil (starting about 1/8″ – 1/4″ away from the edge) of filling in an even layer. Top with another half, press down slightly to adhere halves and smoosh filling to the edges.

Enjoy as soon as possible! They can be covered and stored for several days in the frige, but tend to get stickier (they’ll still taste amazing) the longer they sit; bring to room temperature and keep some napkins handy.

Notes

¹ I like Medaglia D’ Oro Instant Espresso Coffee. Available at Whole Foods, occasionally Target, and Amazon (as of this moment, only in a six pack, which is just a tad excessive for this purpose…).

² I use Droste cocoa powder. It can be a bit difficult to track down, but totally worth it. Find it on Amazon.com (three pack or single box) or at upscale grocers (Drager’s Markets in the Bay Area and occasionally Whole Foods). The most important thing is that you use a Dutch-process (alkalized) cocoa powder for this recipe, not a natural cocoa powder such as this one by Hershey’s.

³ I like E. Guittard Bittersweet Chocolate Wafers (72% cacao). Available at Whole Foods, Sur La Table, and their online store. Their allergen statement can be viewed here.

To quickly bring eggs up to room temperature:
Place eggs in a bowl or cup with about an inch of space remaining at the top. Fill cup with hot tap water, covering eggs completely. Allow eggs to sit in hot water for 5-10 minutes (while you prepare/measure out the remaining ingredients, perhaps?). Remove eggs from water, dry completely with a clean towel, and proceed with recipe.

Genuine, Marshmallow Fluff is a non-negotiable. Marshmallow crème is not at all the same thing. If you’re on the east-coast, I’m guessing you know where to find this stuff since most grocery store chains carry it down the peanut butter aisle. For the rest of us, Cost Plus World Market recently began stocking this wonderful spread in the baking aisle (for locations click here). You can also purchase it directly from the producers through their online store. They also have a “Fluff Finder” here.

step one: insert coupler base into pastry bag step two: score bag with scissors step three: remove pastry bag "hat" (score more if necessary) step four: ready for the pastry tip step five: fitted with the tip step six: coupler ring screwed on step seven: pastry bag folded over
  • http://www.healthyfoodietravels.net/ Kiri W.

    Looks yummy, even though I still haven’t had one. ;)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/04615365296221651518 heather sage

    Thank you! At least you’re not far from Pennsylvania — there you can experience a truly authentic version (shhh, don’t tell Maine I said that) :).

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11690647475108398913 Sweet and Salty SF

    I love the clean look and design of your page! We love connecting with fellow SF Bay Area food bloggers and I’m glad I found your site! Great photography and great g-free recipes!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/04615365296221651518 heather sage

    Thank you — I love connecting with local bloggers as well!