While cooking, listen to this: Psychotic Girl - The Black Keys
Oh, whoopie pies. What an unfortunate name for something so delicious.
If you don't know what this absurd treat is, I highly recommend reading this article - super interesting, especially if you are a food history nerd like me.
In the cake v. frosting debate, I fall heavily on the frosting side. I firmly believe that most cakes are vehicles for frosting, and I tend to make way too much frosting when I'm baking. There are worse problems to have.
Enter the whoopie pie. It is neither cake nor pie, but dear lord is it amazing. I think my love for them started when I was in high school. I was looking for something to bake for my boyfriend's basketball team "to be supportive" - read, to show I was an awesome baker and a total keeper. I would be more ashamed of this, but who hasn't been there before, right? Right?
Anyway, I stumbled upon the whoopie pie by reading Cakespy. She too is a frosting lover, and posts lots of dessert recipes filled with this celestial food. My kind of woman. I made the whoopie pies and thought "holy shit these are fantastic." They are now in my permanent dessert repertoire.
You know what they say, boyfriends may come and go, but dessert is forever.
The standard whoopie pie is made of two chocolate sandwich-y cake-y halves, filled with marshmallow cream (I know it's "creme" but I HATE that word; add it to the list). My version includes espresso powder in the batter, and replaces the marshmallow filling with white chocolate buttercream. Espresso and white chocolate are a match made in food heaven, and the stiff buttercream holds up really well between the fluffy cake pillows.
How good does a nap on a fluffy cake pillow sound?
This recipe is super easy to follow, and the pies can be made as big or as small as you'd like. I recommend making them on the smaller side because they're a pretty hefty dessert. I made them on the big side, which you can see in the pictures, and while I got twelve pretty monstrous halves out of them, this obviously led to only six whole whoopie pies. If you're looking to make a group dessert, scoop about 1 tablespoon of batter per cookie. Alternatively, you can make whoopie pies on steroids like I did. Either way, they're guaranteed to impress.
Love and meows, Rina
3 tablespoons instant espresso powder
2 tablespoons hot water
2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder*
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup milk of choice
white chocolate buttercream:
2 sticks (½ pound) unsalted butter, softened
12 ounces white chocolate, melted and cooled slightly
1 ½-2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
*Dutch-processed cocoa is ideal, but normal cocoa powder will do if you can't find it.
Preheat the oven: 375 F, and line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats.
Prepare the espresso: in a small bowl, combine the espresso and water and set aside.
Prepare the dry ingredients: in a medium mixing bowl, sift the flour, cocoa powder and baking soda. Once sifted, add salt directly to the bowl.
Prepare the wet ingredients: in the work bowl of a stand mixer, or a large mixing bowl, beat the butter and brown sugar on low until combined. Adjust the speed to medium and beat together for a few minutes, until the mixture is fluffy and smooth. Add the egg and vanilla, and beat for a couple more minutes.
Add the dry ingredients: a little at a time, alternate between adding some milk and adding some of the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. After each addition, beat until combined. Continue until all of the milk and dry ingredients are used. Beat until just incorporated, and scrape down the bowl if necessary. Add the espresso mixture and beat for another minute.
Scoop the cakes: using a tablespoon or a small ice cream/cookie dough scoop, scoop the batter into domes of whatever size you want. Keep in mind that these babies reeeeeeeally spread out, so make sure to space them at least 2 inches apart. You don't need to flatten the batter mounds for this reason as well.
Bake the cakes: Place the cakes in the oven for 10-12 minutes, or until the cakes spring back when you touch them. Remember, know your oven - it might take more or less time for you. Allow them to cool for a few minutes on the tray, and then they can cool completely on a wire rack. If you try to fill them before they're cool, the frosting will melt.
Melt the white chocolate: while the cakes are baking, heat the white chocolate in one of two way. One way is to use a double boiler, meaning placing a heat-proof bowl over a simmering pot of water and heating the white chocolate in the bowl. Make sure the bowl isn't actually touching the water! The other way is to melt the chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl in a microwave in 15-second increments, stirring after each one. Chocolate can burn really easily, so the short time periods and stirring are a must. Allow to cool slightly so that the butter doesn't melt in the frosting.
Prepare the buttercream: while the white chocolate cools, beat the butter at medium speed in a large mixing bowl until creamy. Lower the speed to low, add in the melted white chocolate and bring back up to medium. Add the vanilla and then the powdered sugar a little at a time, scraping the sides of the bowl if necessary. You want the buttercream to be stiff so that it holds up in the finished pie, so add more powdered sugar if you need to alter the consistency.
Prepare the pies: once the cake halves are completely cooled, you get to play a fun game called "match the whoopie pies," where you find the whoopie pies that are the same size and will make the most even pies. Thrilling, I know. When everyone has a partner, take one half and slather it with as little or as much buttercream as you'd like. Stick another half on top and press the two halves together gently but firmly so that they stick.
To serve: immediately and with aplomb.
To keep: because there's butter in the filling, these should be kept in the refrigerator. In a tightly sealed container they'll last for 1 week.