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10.16.2009

Let's Try Whoopie Pie


I cannot believe I just bought a jar of Marshmallow Fluff. And if buying this black hole of nutrition (but dentist's pay dirt) wasn't bad enough, I bought it from, what I like to call, the Kill Me Now Store. That’s the name I have given the tragic supermarket around the corner from my apartment that stubbornly resisted the sprucing up the rest of the neighborhood went through 25 years ago. The average age of the shoppers is around 97. The pre-existing smell of rodent killer mingles with the clients’ accompanying used kitty litter aroma to infuse the store with an appetite suppressing stench. The aisles are so narrow you can’t pass one of these customers if they’ve stopped their cart to load up on Friskies or Meow Mix and let's not even talk about the cashiers. Except I will-they make molasses look fast. Picking up your purchase (as if it weighs 100 pounds) they turn your item slowly around and around in search of the neon orange price sticker, use a pencil to punch in the amount on the prehistoric cash register, and with glazed eyes, mutter “$1.49.” No bar code scanner here my friends! We’re doin' it old school and our prices are outrageous to boot! By the time you finish picking up the thing you were too lazy to walk the additional four blocks to the clean Food Emporium for, your mood is so low it’s a wonder you don’t stumble through the smeared exit door, run into the street, and simply fling yourself into the oncoming Columbus Avenue traffic.
My need for Fluff started with this whole brouhaha over bake sales in schools. It’s making me crazy-bake sales are not why obesity levels are soaring! The reasons for the increasing waist lines of American children are so varied and far reaching I will not attempt to tackle and explain. But how can you deprive a child of that wonderful surprise, when you think recess will mean the hard oatmeal raisin cookies that comes two in a pack, but stumble upon a table filled with frosted treats, find $.50 in your pocket and buy yourself a chocolate cupcake with vanilla frosting, sprinkled with multi colored nonpareils? It is just cruel. Yes, the cupcake came from a box, and the frosting a can, but it is just one tiny cake. And just once in a while. That’s the point-it’s a treat.
Obviously, I am being nostalgic for the bake sales of my youth and really don’t know what a Duncan Hines cupcake goes for on the open school market these days. But all of this has made me think of the lame recess snacks we used to have when I was a kid. We were the only school that referred to the mid- morning snack offerings as “Milk Lunch.” We’d say “Oh, the milk cart is here!” And run into the hall to find one of the miserable looking women from the lunch room guarding her pitiful offerings-waxed paper bags filled with plain goldfish, some peanuts (the pre-nut allergy age) in a tiny paper cup, maybe a generic version of a Lorna Doone. My friends from other schools talked about Ring Dings in the cafeteria or Oreos in the vending machine. I’ve been thinking a lot about Oreos lately as I’ve been circling their latest variety, the Cakester. Although I have yet to try them I am intrigued by this homage to the Whoopie Pie, something I’ve also never had. All of a sudden they’re everywhere-in chocolate, pumpkin, vanilla. It’s time to tackle them myself and see if they deserve to be the popular girl.

After comparing and contrasting various recipes I settled on this one from epicurious because the reviews were the most positive and mostly because they didn't call for shortening. As always, I tweaked the portion size and used the largest (a generous tablespoon size) of my mini ice cream scoops for the cakey cookie part (or you can use a tablespoon) and then my 2 teaspoon scoop for the filling. The idea that their recipe yielded only 8 ‘pies’ was a little much, seeing what is in them. Also, the online recipe called for 1/2 cup of cocoa but the comments indicated the original printed recipe called for more. I've made the adjustment below. Again….this is a TREAT and one will be plenty. And plenty good!

WHOOPIE PIES-adapted from epicurious.com

Ingredients


For cookies/cakes

2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup well-shaken buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar (I used dark brown)
1 large egg

For filling

1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 cups confectioner’s sugar
2 cups Marshmallow Fluff
1 teaspoon vanilla

Make cookies/cakes
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Whisk together flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt in a bowl until combined. Stir together buttermilk and vanilla in a small bowl.

Beat together butter and brown sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes in a standing mixer or 5 minutes with a handheld, then add egg, beating until combined well. Reduce speed to low and alternately mix in flour mixture and buttermilk in batches, beginning and ending with flour, scraping down side of bowl occasionally, and mixing until smooth.

Using 1 tablespoon ice cream scoop or a tablespoon and the assistance of another spoon, drop mounds of batter about 2 inches apart onto 2 parchment paper lined large baking sheets. Bake in upper and lower thirds of oven, switching position of sheets halfway through baking, until tops are puffed and cakes spring back when touched, 7 to 10 minutes. (note* my oven is small and I don't trust it to bake evenly with two sheets so I bake one sheet at a time.) Transfer with a metal spatula to a rack to cool completely.

Make filling:

Beat together butter, confectioner’s sugar, Fluff, and vanilla in a bowl with electric mixer at medium speed until smooth, about 3 minutes.

Assemble 'pies':
Turn half of the cookies upside down. Using 2 teaspoon ice cream scoop (or spoons) drop filling on flat side of cookies/cakes. Top with the remaining cookies/cakes, press down lightly and Whoopie!!!!!These will taste even better the next day, if they’ve been wrapped tightly. Don’t forget the milk, you will really need it. And don't be surprised by the ooziness of the filling-just part of the Whoopie joy. I think I'm starting to understand the obsession with this little cutie. Next time-pumpkin?

Yield: 20 three inch Whoopie sandwich cookie cakes






5 comments:

Dan Shaw said...

Miranda--You captured the mood of the old-fashioned upper west side supermarket so perfectly. I could smell it all, which is a good thing and a bad thing, too.
Keep writing!

Anonymous said...

I know EXACTLY which supermarket you are talking about! I am a big fan (of course) of the cakesters..but your look delicious.
LOVE THIS BLOG!! mtc

Margot said...

Can you save me one? They look delicious. And can't believe you went to the Roachaneer.

liza said...

LOVED THIS. i have walked by Pioneer so many times, an Bruce used to d to live above it, but never went in. Now I know why. Thanks for saving me the trip. Those whoopie pies look amazing. Another great blog!!!

Laura said...

Awesome post. I know the exact smell of those old-people supermarkets. Not far off from the smell of my neighbor's apartment. It fills the hallway for hours every time he leaves his door open for more than three minutes.
He is the archetype kill-me-now store customer.