Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Chocolate Whoopie Pies

There are some things that will be always be difficult to explain and I think whoopie pies might be one of them. You would think it would be easy to figure out their origins wouldn't you? I mean, to me it looks obvious that one day someone thought to hell with fairy cake cases and just blobbed piles of cake mix onto some baking trays (lined of course, let's not get carried away here) and then stuck them together in pairs with some buttercream once they were cooked. This is extremely hypocritical coming from me but sometimes the simplest explanation really is the most accurate. According to Baked and Delicious magazine there is a possibility that these little cakes were named for the 'whoopeeee!' noise American farmers made upon opening their lunch in the fields and discovering the treats that their wives had lovingly made for them. Really now, that is just silly.

I have been dying to try making whoopie pies for ages seeing as I didn't believe the first ones I made could possibly be right. To add to that I finally got hold of The Hummingbird Bakery's Cake Days book which has some amazing recipes in. Someone on my course very kindly let me borrow the previous Hummingbird Bakery publication which I fell in love with so when I discovered this book and that it contained even more recipes, I was having it. Furthermore, after receiving my results this year I was determined to celebrate by treating myself to some baking goodies from Lakeland and a whoopie pie tin was one of them. I cannot recommend one of these tins enough - I gave it a little greasing and flouring and the cakes lifted off perfectly - even better than those I put on a lined baking sheet. That is the only downside of the tin - it only allows for 6 but the recipes in the book make 10. For anyone considering buying one, don't, get two but hurry because they are in the sale.

Not being sure how difficult these would be to make I chose the simplest variation but really these should be called Extremely Chocolatey Whoopie Pies because of the 80g of cocoa in the mixture. They are really easy to make though. Whisk the egg and sugar together until pale and thick (this is my favourite bit of making a roulade!), mix the yoghurt, milk and vanilla together in a jug then mix into the egg/sugar along with the melted butter. Finally, sift the dry ingredients together and (here is the most difficult bit) mix into the wet ingredients in two batches. Yes, I know I sound stupid saying that is difficult but if  your mixture starts crawling up the beaters of your electric whisk you will see what I mean. I can only assume it was because the mixture is much thicker than a normal cake mix so the blobs don't spread into one big cakey blob in the oven. I ended up finishing the mixing in with a spatula once I had scraped as much as I could off the electric whisk. I hope the same thing doesn't happen to anyone else, but just in case I thought you might like the warning. Needless to say I ignored the bit about putting the bowl in the fridge for the mixture to firm up. I don't want to be baking cake bricks thank you very much. 

The recipe says it makes 8 to 10 cakes/pies but as a rough guide and if you like to measure quantities out when making individual cakes like me, then each blob needs to be about 34g to make 10 cakes. This allows for some of the mixture being lost any equipment that it wants to remain stuck to. It also means you have some left over to lick from the spoon/bowl. Never a bad thing.

My cakes had 13 minutes in the oven but I think they could have done with a minute less to allow them to be a bit more moist. That may be the correct texture though, again being down to the amount of flour. I will find out when I make the next lot. 

The filling is amazing. It is a cross between normal buttercream and the marshmallow filling you get in these gorgeous things. Does anyone else see if they can get all the filling out without breaking the chocolate shell after the initial bite? No? My youngest brother once took the biscuit base off one, scooped out the filling then aligned the chocolate back onto the base. Pure skill I tell you. Anyway, this hybrid filling is from the addition of marshmallow fluff to normal buttercream. I've only seen an American brand of the stuff but you can get it from large supermarkets, or off Amazon. You will use more than you think though because it is very lightweight. If you do find it, buy a few. There are lots of things you could do with it, though I still haven't tried a fluffernutter sandwich. If you do use marshmallow fluff as a filling though I would suggest you don't skip the chilling bit if the recipe states to do so because marshmallow fluff on its own likes to escape. Mum made a cake for my middle nephew when he became lactose intolerant and used it for the filling. It seemed to work fine at first but when we came back to the cake a while later we found the top had slid off and the marshmallow fluff was in a puddle around the cake. With the whoopie pies though, it set with only minimal dripping, but I think that was more from me pressing the top half down too much. I only used half the quantity of filling the book said which is ample with enough left over to treat yourself but if you wanted the sugar rush, you could make the whole lot, use half for the cakes and eat the rest yourself. Forget the calories. In fact, if you dip fruit in it, it wouldn't count anyway. I haven't tried this version but normal buttercream goes fantastic with strawberries.

If Mum doesn't guilt trip me into making another Victoria sponge I might try another whoopie pie variation next - coffee and walnut or Nutella. Neither are in the book but then I do like to experiment. Hmmm...


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