Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Iced chocolate whoopie pies

I kind of fell out of love with baking a little while back - there were no more occasions to celebrate and while it's a gorgeously peaceful activity, it isn't exactly kind to a healthy diet so my cake-output went right down. I was feeling quite uninspired anyway.

Then one day at work this book came my way: "Let's make Whoopies!" Cringe, what a title. Cupcakes have sort of had their hay-day, if such a thing is possible and everyone is desperately trying to cash in on the next thing which will be in 'vogue'. Macaroons had a while but being virtually impossible to recreate at home, everyone is pushing whoopie pies - essentially discs of cake sandwiched together and topped with icing or something more elaborate.
For St. Patrick's Day in mid-March, I decided to give these a whirl. They went down rather popularly, although I know for sure if I'd recommend the book (any book with a quote from Simon Cowell on the front cover should probably be avoided). The tone is a little bit too self-congratulating for a first time recipe book ("My husband's office manager described them as little drops of heaven....they have been tweeted around the world!") That said, I'm going to have another look through - the book is full of interesting recipes, and a lot of low-gluten or egg-free recipes, as well as savories - Gruy√®re-and-caramelised-onion whoopie pies, anyone? I found the whole baking process on the stressful side, but that may very well just be the first stab at a whoopie pie for me. And they didn't turn out like the picture!!!  No, I'm not sulking. 
I've come across buttermilk in recipes before, but have never bothered to buy it - I have no use for more than I use to bake, really, so I just make a substitution. With my soda farls I add a teaspoon of lemon juice to the milk but this book suggests putting in milk and Greek yoghurt at a 50:50 ratio. Very curious and interesting suggestion - and maybe to blame why my mixture was so thick! 
As you can see, I messed up slightly and ended up with too-tall pies, but they were still delicious, marvellously dense, brownie-ish cakes that were a bit messy but glorious to eat and went down astonishingly well at the St Patrick's Day party I took them to, even if my Irish-themed icing looks kind of minging on them!

Makes 12 or so
  • 140g plain flour
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 40g cocoa 
  • 1 tsp bicarb of soda
  • 90ml buttermilk (or 45ml milk, 45ml greek yoghurt)
  • 80g unsalted butter (softened)
  • 140g light brown sugar
  • 1 free range egg (about 50g - beaten)
Preheat the oven to 200C and line a baking tray - you're going to need quite a few, or do them in batches. They need to be able to spread out and I ended up making them too tall and thick and ended up with whoopie spheres rather than pies.
Mix together the buttermilk (or substitute) and vanilla and set aside. Sieve the plain flour, cocoa and bicarb. In your largest mixing bowl, cream the softened butter and the sugar until smooth and light.  When it's all nice and pale-ish, start very, very slowly adding your egg (which I always mix in a mug - so much cleaner!). My mixture is semi-dark as I decided to use up some darker sugar I had lying around. 

My mixture began to seperate here slightly, but it all worked out okay.  Add and mix through the buttermilk and vanilla, then carefully fold in the cocoa, flour and bicarb. My mixture was extremely thick as well here. I'm not sure if that's normal. In retrospect, trying to measure out Greek yoghurt in mls is a little challenging as it's quite form-holding, so you can use a tbsp if you prefer.

Start dolloping onto your tray (or three trays or so), or piping, if you think you'd prefer to do that and own a piping bag (I don't.) and cook for 8 minutes or so. The image below they ALMOST went a bit wrong, so do space them out generously, especially if you want flatter cakes than the ones I produced. 

NOW MIGHT BE A GOOD TIME TO CLEAN  UP! Look at the bloody mess I made. 
Meanwhile, you can make the filling and the topping. The filling is a delicious vanilla cream cheese mixture, while the topping is just a basic icing sugar plus food colouring.

  • 50g unsalted butter (softened)
  • 150g cream cheese
  • 100g icing sugar (sifted)
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 140g icing sugar (sifted)
  • 2 tbsp water
  • Food colouring
For the filling, mix the butter and icing sugar until a nice smooth even paste, add the vanilla, then sift in the icing sugar and mix carefully with a wooden spoon so it doesn't puff out and settle EVERYWHERE. Be careful not to overmix as it'll get extremely runny and that's no fun.
With the topping, add water to the icing sugar drop by drop, stirring manically between drops - you may not need the entire 2tbsp as too-runny-icing is a problem that happens way too often with baking. Add as much food colouring as you like - a few drops normally do it.

Fresh out the oven!
Once the whoopie pies have come out the oven, it's not an exact science - simply smear a gluttonously thick spoonful of the icing between two cakes and squash together and drizzle over the icing, then if you want to add sprinkles, drop over while the icing is still wet.
Make sure you give them at least a few hours to set otherwise every time one gets eaten, 90% of the filling will end up on your hands! 

1 comment:

  1. read it as 'whoo pies'

    sounds better that way


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