Saturday, April 11, 2009

Mr. Maricucu, oh how I love thee, let me count the ways

I'll save the last whoopie pie for you.

If you don't eat it by tonight, it's mine. Muahahaha . . .

End of love letter.

That's the Cook's Illustrated recipe for homemade whoopie pies and yes it's the last one, saved for the hard working daddy (thus the plastic bag, otherwise who knows how many loving preschool pats it would have received by now). Most whoopie pies, or woofie pies as my oldest calls them, use shortening for the filling. Now that I've found organic non hydrogenated shortening I could use that but I'm glad the folks at CI decided to taste test enough to realize that a combination of marshmallow fluff and butter gave the perfect balance to the filling. Their version tastes like a hostess cupcake can only dream of tasting. No laughing at my use of organic shortening and marshmallow fluff. It's a dichotomy I can live with.

I didn't use dutch process cocoa, all I keep stocked is regular hershey's in traditional and dark but I remember reading that the difference in PH of natural and dutch process cocoa along with the variations in PH of the rest of the recipe ingredients is not enough to make a difference. Also, while it is quite indulgent to consume a whoopie pie larger than a grown man's hand I make them a more modest size using this cookie scoop which is a #20 size (3 tablespoons) for both the batter and then the filling portion. Doing this I get about 10 pies vs. 6. They're still big enough though that I give the boys about half a pie each. Also, don't ignore the instruction to use two baking sheets, otherwise you'll end up with square whoopie pies from the crowding.

Whoopie Pies
via Cook's Illustrated (instructions by Marielle)

Cake Batter:

2 c all-purpose flour
1/2 c Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp table salt
1 c packed light brown sugar
8 tbsp unsalted butter (1 stick), softened (honestly I never buy unsalted)
1 large egg , toom temp
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 c buttermilk (I usually use the powdered kind but you can substitue a cup of milk + 1tbsp vinegar)

for the filling:

1 1/2 sticks butter, softened
1 1/4 c confectioners' sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp table salt
1 jar Marshmallow Fluff (approx. 7oz)

Mix the first four ingredients in a bowl and set aside. Preheat oven to 350 deg. and set the racks apart enough to accomodate two baking sheets.

Mix the butter and brown sugar in a mixer until it's light and fluffy. Add the egg and beat until well mixed, a couple of minutes. Add the vanilla. Then add half the dry ingredients, half the buttermilk, finally last half of the dry and then the last half of the buttermilk. Don't overbeat but do scrape down the bowl and give it a final stir.

Scoop the cake batter with #20 scoop (or use 3 tablespoons worth of batter) onto a parchment lined baking sheet. About 9-10 on each sheet but you can break out a third sheet if you run out of room. Bake 15-18min until done, swapping and turning the baking sheets halfway to ensure even baking. The cakes are done when you can gently poke with your finger and they spring back instead of sinking in the middle. Let them cool for about 45min to an hour.

Now make the filling. Beat the confectioners' sugar and butter for about 5 minutes until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla, salt and marshmallow fluff. Beat another 3-4 minutes until well mixed and still pretty fluffy. Cool in the fridge for about 20 minutes.

When the cakes and filling have cooled, place a level scoop of fluff on one cake then top and squish down filling with a second cake. Repeat until you run out of ingredients. Then try to keep your hands off the rest before sharing.

If you like the whoopie pie concept (who doesn't???) then you can try these variations:

Banana Whoopie Pies
Oatmeal Raisin Whoopie Pies
Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

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