There’s a whoopie pie revolution taking over my kitchen.
But before I tell you why, I have to get this out of the way: “whoopie pie” sounds way too much like “whoopie cushion.” It’s unfortunate, because who wants to think about whoopie cushions when they’re eating dessert? The associations — bodily functions best left unnamed, dumb practical jokes — are gross enough to take away any well meaning appetite.
And I believe it is this unfortunate association that is the true reason I never tasted a whoopie pie before two weeks ago, when I served them at a party for our church choir.
It was this New York Times article on whoopie pies that made me realize the truth: made right, a whoopie pie is a cake and frosting sandwich. Before that article, I didn’t know that whoopie pies could be anything other than a gross, smushed, sticky, sweaty pastry wrapped in plastic wrap and sold at the convenience stores of my youth. After that article, I knew that making whoopie pies was my destiny, at least for my next dinner party.
I doubled The Times’ recipe for the cakes, since the original recipe only made six pies. In retrospect, I should have realized that this meant that the pies were going to be huge — my finished product was a good five inches across. The cake was easy to mix up, but the baking process was time consuming. Because the each cake needs a good six inches of “spread” room, I could only fit six or seven on a pan, meaning I had to bake them in four batches.
I also didn’t use the Times buttercream recipe, opting instead for Chockylit’s mint buttercream frosting. This buttercream frosting was a revelation, because it was the first time I actually sifted my powdered sugar. The result was frosting ambrosia. Smooth and creamy, this frosting didn’t have that stick-to-your-teeth feeling of many powdered sugar frostings. I also upped the amount of mint extract to a full teaspoon, since I didn’t feel like the 1/8 of a teaspoon was minty enough.
And the final result? I loved them. My guests loved them. The whoopie pies were a huge hit. I’ve made cupcakes for parties before that have sat uneaten on trays, but I only had two whoopie pies left over after my party – and I only had those because they didn’t fit on the serving platter! I cut each pie in half to serve — if I made them again I’d make each pie half the size. That being said, I still ate two whole pies at the party. And then, after everyone left, I had one more.
I liked these pies so much because, as I suspected, the frosting/cake ratio was a much better fit to my tastes. If you are the type of person who is always scraping half the frosting off your cupcake, then this a welcome change. Because the frosting is sandwiched between two pieces of cake, the frosting acts as a compliment to the cake, but doesn’t overwhelm it.
Maybe this means I was wrong – maybe whoopie pies really are the next cupcake. At the very least, I have a strong inclination to make them my go-to party dessert.
Viva la revolution!
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 and 1/2 tsp baking soda
2 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup cocoa
1/2 pound (2 sticks) butter, softened
2 cups light brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups buttermilk
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
4-5 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1/4 cup milk
1/8 to 1 tsp all natural peppermint extract
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with buttered parchment paper and set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together your flour, baking soda, salt, and cocoa.
In a mixing bowl, cream the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla and mix until creamy. Add one third of the flour mixture, then one third of the butter milk, beating after each addition until combined. Add the flour in two more batches, alternating with the buttermilk.
Scoop the batter in 1/4 cup scoops onto the prepared baking sheet, using an ice cream scoop or a spoon. Leave six inches between each mound of batter. Bake for 12-14 minutes, until tops are puffed and cake springs back when touched. Remove from oven and cool on racks. Let cool completely before filling the pies.
For the frosting, if you have not already done so, sift your powdered sugar. Yes, you may not want to, but you will thank me later.
In a mixing bowl, beat your butter until creamy. Add four cups of the powdered sugar and milk and beat until creamy. Add 1/8 of a teaspoon of peppermint extract and mix until combined. Taste the frosting – if it is not minty enough for you, keep adding mint extract by the eight of a teaspoon until you reach your desired level of mintiness. I added an entire teaspoon and felt it was well worth it. After you’ve reached your minty level, add enough powdered sugar until the frosting is at your desired piping consistency.
Fill a pastry cone or plastic bag with the icing and attach your desired pastry tip. Pipe generously onto a cake round, covering the entire surface, and top with another cake round. Alternately, you can pile on the frosting with a spoon and smooth out with a knife. Continuing this process until all the pies are assembled.
Serve to astounded guests. Know that the revolution has come to your kitchen.