Saturday, October 2, 2010

Makin’ Whoopie

Though the whoopie pie has not yet achieved the same popular status as the cupcake in this country, it certainly has a lot in common with it. Both the whoopie pie and the cupcake are made

of cake and frosting in individual portions, the cupcake with the frosting slathered on top, and the whoopie with it sandwiched in between two discs of cake. They are both uniquely American. And

kids—and adults like me—adore both. The classic whoopie is devil’s food cake filled with an American vanilla buttercream frosting, though you can find them in all sorts of delightful flavors, 

including pumpkin, lemon, vanilla and banana. Chocolate whoopie pies have always reminded me of devil dogs, one of my favorite childhood snacks. Obviously, though, they are far superior to that

pinnacle of commercially-produced, chemically enhanced treats (sorry, I’m just not a Twinkie girl). So, when you get the urge, go ahead and make some whoopie. Life is too short not to.

Whoopie Pies

From The Good Cookie (Wiley, 2002)

These cakey cookies are like home-made Devil Dogs, only better – generous logs of devil's food cake with a lush cream filling. Make them for the kids, and save a bunch for yourself.

Makes 28 sandwich cookies
Storage: in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.

Chocolate cookies:
2 cups (242 g) all-purpose flour
1 cup (82 g) unsweetened non-alkalized cocoa powder
1/2 cup (4 oz/113 g/1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar
1 large egg yolk
1/4 plus 1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup (4 liq oz) hot water
1/2 cup (4 liq oz) buttermilk

2 cup (230 g) confectioners' sugar
4 tablespoons (2 oz/57 g/1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
3 tablespoons heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of salt

Make the chocolate cookies:
1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 400°F. Butter two baking sheets.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and cocoa powder until well blended. Set aside.
3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, using the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar at medium-high speed until well blended, about 2 minutes. Add the egg yolk and beat until well blended, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a spatula as necessary. Beat in the salt and vanilla extract. Stir the baking soda into the hot water. Adding one-third of each ingredient at a time, alternately add the hot water mixture, buttermilk, and dry ingredients, ending with the dry ingredients and mixing just until combined. Using wet hands, shape the dough into 1-inch balls and arrange them, 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. With a wet palm, flatten each ball into a 1 1/4-inch disc. Bake the cookies, one sheet at a time, for 5 to 7 minutes, until their surfaces are cracked (the cookies will still be quite soft; they will firm up as they cool.) Immediately transfer the hot cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

Make the filling:
4. In the bowl of an electric mixer, using the paddle attachment, beat the sugar with the butter at medium speed until crumbly, about 1 minute. Add the heavy cream and beat at high speed until smooth. Add the vanilla extract, and salt and beat until blended.

Assemble the cookies:
5. Using a small metal spatula, spread the bottom side of half of the cookies with a heaping teaspoon of the filling. Top with the remaining cookies. Sprinkle lightly with confectioners' sugar, if you like.