Sunday, July 12, 2009

Edible nostalgia.

I stole that title from Williams-Sonoma. Ever since I came across this article in the New York Times about whoopie pies, I have been intrigued and excited to try the recipe out--though for whatever reason it took me a little while to get to it. I don't know what it was about whoopie pies that drew me in, perhaps the idea of going back to something simpler or being reminded of other frosting-filled chocolate cake snacks from childhood (Ding-dongs? Ho Hos?). But these are nice, round mounds of chocolate cake with a marshmallowy filling, and with a history that some say dates back to the Great Depression.

However they came about, they seem to be making a comeback in some circles, and they are a cute and uncomplicated alternative to the ubiquitous cupcake--maybe a little less extravagant (appropriate for these tough times) and certainly just as tasty.

I recently had a friend over for dinner to catch up on what's been going on her life, and she wanted to bake something chocolaty. I took up the opportunity to try out the recipe, and it provided for the perfect bonding experience. Baking with a friend (or even someone who's not yet a friend?) always makes for a great experience to share--there's something about creating something together.

The cakes turned out delicious, though they weren't quite perfect round mounds, and most came out as kind of deformed blobs of chocolate cake (my pictures tend to focus on the prettier ones). Instead of making the traditional marshmallow fluff filling, we made a basic buttercream frosting which was still gratifying. I've tried making it again, in hopes of making them nice and round, but yet again, to no avail--in addition to over-whipping the egg whites for the filling only to have it deflate later. I think I'm resigning myself to imperfection on this one in terms of "looks", but I'd like to think the imperfection adds to its old world charm.

Whoopie Pies
Adapted from the New York Times
Makes about 6 pies

For the cakes:

Preheat the oven to 350F degress and line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.

1. Cream together in a mixing bowl:
- 1/2 cup (or 1 stick) of butter, at room temperature
- 1 cup brown sugar

2. Add to the butter mixture, mixing on medium:
- 1 large egg
- 1 t. vanilla extract

3. Whisk together in another bowl:
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1/2 cup cocoa
- 1-1/4 t. baking soda
- 1 t. sea salt

4. Add to the butter mixture, alternating in 3 parts, combining well:
- flour mixture from #2
- 1 cup buttermilk

5. Create 12 mounds of batter on the baking sheets, each about 1/4 cup of batter, using a spoon or ice cream scoop. Each mound should be about 4 to 5 inches apart.

6. Bake on the middle rack for about 14 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool completely.

For the filling:

1. Temper the following by filling a saucepan with about 2 inches of water brought to a simmer, and whisking the following in a bowl of a stand mixer (or metal mixing bowl) over the the simmering water until the sugar is dissolved (or temperature reaches 180 degrees)--the mixing bowl should not touch the water:
- 3 large egg whites
- 3/4 cup sugar

2. Remove the mixing bowl from the simmering water, and whisk the egg white mixture on high until it increase in volume and becomes thick and glossy.

3. Reduce mixing speed to medium and add the following:
- 2 sticks butter, at room temperature; adding 1 T. at a time
- 3/4 t. vanilla
- 1/4 t. sea salt

4. Continue mixing until smooth, then increase mixing speed to high for one minute.

To assemble the pies, spread about 1/4 cup of filling on the flat side of one cake mound and place another mound on top, flat side down.


  1. This time I particularly enjoyed the write-up of your experience behind this otherwise basic simple dessert. This whoopie pie reminds me of smores with that marshmellow in center.

  2. These look delicious! Would you believe I have never had a whoopie pie? Your recipe begs me to try it.

  3. Bikegal: thanks! I guess marshmallow and chocolate is always a winning combination.

    Linda: I'd like to try a "real" whoopie pie too. I can't compare this recipe to what a "real" one tastes like, but it's still good and they're fun to eat--hope you get to try one soon :)

  4. This is classic comfort food, they look yummy to me :). Whoopie pies are pretty tough to make perfectly round, I've tried making them once and made a huge mess :)! I say it's they're shape that gives them character though! I also like that these have a buttercream frosting.

    I hope you've been well :)!


Thank you for stopping by! I may not always be able to respond right away, but I appreciate your comments!