My First Time Making Whoopie

Relax kids, this is a family show.

I’m talking whoopie pies, of course! After I had an epic failure for a chocolate cream pie with a Thin Mint crust (I used coconut milk to make the whipped cream, which would not whip, and therefore the “mousse” was just slush…and I wasted a box of Thin Mints I’d been saving for months for the right recipe…looks like that wasn’t it), I had to redeem myself. I’ve decided to embark on my newest project using recipes from cook books I already own. Yes, actual cook books, which are piling up on my shelves, can be used for more than just decoration. There are so many incredible recipes out there, and I probably have 25% of them already sitting in my kitchen, silently vying for my attention. It just so happens that the first recipe I pulled out on the first page of the book United Cakes of America was for chocolate whoopie pies with a rum meringue frosting straight out of whoopie pie-obsessed Maine.

Whoopies are actually much easier than I’d imagine, at least in this case. This recipe is your traditional whoopie pie with a slight twist on the frosting, and the entire process can be done under a half hour. I used vanilla and almond extracts and Mount Gay Eclipse Rum (an amazing gold rum from Barbados), but it would be easy enough to completely transform the frosting by adding raspberry or strawberry extracts or something even warmer, like cinnamon. I’ll have to get back to you on changing the cakes…pumpkin whoopies in the fall are enough to make me wish for the cold.

Whoopie Pies

 

Stuff You’ll Need

Makes 8 pies

For the Cake

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 3 Tbsp cocoa powder
  • 3 Tbsp corn starch
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup milk (either 2% or whole or almond)
  • 2 Tbsp molasses
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup or 1 stick unsalted butter or Earth Balance, softened
  • 1/2 cup superfine granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • Baking sheets, parchment paper

For the Filling

  • 1 1/4 cups superfine granulated sugar
  • 3 egg whites
  • 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 1 tsp rum
  • Hand-mixer, stainless steel mixing bowl, and small saucepan-you’re gonna do some cooking here!

How to Do It

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Spray each sheet lightly with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Sift the dry ingredients for the cake together in a mixing bowl, and set aside. Combine the milk, molasses, and vanilla extract in a separate bowl, and set aside.
  3. Begin creaming the butter and both sugars together with the paddle attachment of a stand-mixer at medium speed for 2-3 minutes. Add the egg, and scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula as necessary.
  4. Alternately add the dry and wet ingredients in 3-4 steps each into the mixer, and scrape down the sides and into the bottom of the bowl to ensure all the ingredients are blended. Whip for an additional 15-20 seconds.
  5. Drop 1/4 cup-sized scoops of batter 2-3 inches apart onto the prepared baking sheets. Bake for 15 minutes, or until the cakes are firm and a fork or tooth pick comes out mostly clean when placed in the center of the cake.
  6. Remove the cakes from the oven, and let them cool completely on the pan.
  7. While the cakes are cooling, make the filling. Fill a small sauce pan with 1-2 cups of water, and bring to a simmer on the stove. Combine all of the ingredients except for the extracts and rum into a stainless steel mixing bowl that can be placed on top of the saucepan, and prepare your hand-mixer. An oven mitt would be helpful here as well.
  8. Place the bowl over the simmering water, and beat with the electric mixer on low speed. Gradually increase the speed of the mixer to its highest setting, and continue whipping the filling for a total of 7 minutes. The filling should thicken and develop stiff peaks. Carefully add the extracts and rum, and whip for another minute. Quickly remove the bowl from the heat, and set aside to cool.
  9. When the cakes and filling have cooled, use a pastry bag to pipe approximately 2-4 tablespoons of filling on the flat side of half the cakes. Place the flat side of the remaining cakes on top, and enjoy yourself a whoopie pie!

Tips & Treats

  • A note on sugars-this recipe calls for “superfine granulated sugar”. If you’re stopping by the local grocery store, you may not be able to find “superfine granulated sugar”, so you’ll have two choices to compensate: a)do what I did and purchase fine organic sugar, like Florida Crystals, which has a smaller granule than generic granulated sugar, or b)throw your granulated sugar into a food processer and pulse for 30 seconds to cut it up. The finer texture actually helps to cut through the butter when creaming more easily, which provides for a more consistent product.

You Might Also Like…

Cinco de Cupcake

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Veganlicious

Looking for a vegan-friendly dessert that will blow your mind?

GOT IT.

Trying to find a gluten-free treat that actually tastes delicious?

GOT IT.

Searching out something that doesn’t sacrifice taste just because it’s a little healthy?

GOT THAT TOO!

AND you don’t feel like baking??

Oh, I GOT IT!!

How is it possible something so delicious could be so guilt-free on many levels? I had to combine a couple of recipes and search far and wide for some ingredients (if by traveling to two grocery stores with one being a teeny tiny Trader Joe’s means “far and wide” then I, of course, am not exaggerating in any way), but once I tried the final product, the effort was so worth it. If you’re not interested in meandering a healthier route, which I suspect you may not be if you’re often checking out this blog, you can easily make this dessert a one-stop-shop and a 15-minute project. Have no fear omnivores who love gluten, I’ll post the replacements below. Oh, and please read the tips below before starting on the recipe!


Strawberries & Cream Tart



Stuff You’ll Need


Makes one 9″ tart

For the Crust

  • 1 oz good-quality dark chocolate
  • 2 oz unsweetened baking chocolate or carob chips
  • 2 tsp safflower or canola oil
  • 1 package of vegan-friendly, gluten-free chocolate wafer cookies (I used Pamela’s Simplebites Extreme Chocolate Mini Cookies) or about 3 cups worth
  • 9″ pie plate or serving plate


For the Filling

  • 6 oz non-dairy cream cheese, like Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese, softened
  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 1 can unsweetened full-fat coconut milk
  • 2 Tbsp dark agave nectar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 Tbsp corn starch


For the Topping

  • 2 Tbsp all-natural strawberry preserves (no sugar added) or strawberry fruit spread
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 lb strawberries, hulled and quartered


How to Do It

  1. Using a food processor, finely ground the chocolate cookies. Melt the chocolate in the microwave for 30 seconds, stir, and continue to heat until melted, stopping every 15-20 seconds to stir. Add the melted chocolate and safflower or canola oil to the cookie crumbs, and blend again. Remove the mixture from the food processor, and press into the bottom of a 9″ pie plate, until the plate is entirely covered. Put the crust into the freezer for 15-20 minutes while you work on the filling.
  2. Make the coconut whipped cream by scooping out the heavy part of the coconut cream that has risen to the top of the can. Whip the cream on high speed until the beater begins to leave marks through it. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed, and add the agave nectar, corn starch, and 1 tsp vanilla extract. Whip again at high speed until blended and slightly thick. Place the bowl in the freezer for approximately 15 minutes to firm.
  3. Combine the cream cheese, confectioner’s sugar, and almond extract in a large bowl, and whip on low speed until smooth. Set aside.
  4. Heat the strawberry preserves or fruit spread in a microwave-safe bowl for 10 seconds, or until soft and almost liquid. Stir with a fork, and mix in 1 tsp vanilla extract and lemon juice. Pour the juice over the prepared strawberries, and use a large wooden spoon to stir the ingredients together and coat the strawberries. Set aside.
  5. Remove the chocolate crust and the coconut whipped cream from the freezer. Gently fold the frozen whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture, and spread the mixture on top of the chocolate cookie crust. Top with strawberry topping, and serve immediately.

Recipe adapted from Kitchen Meets Girl and The Chemist’s Daughter.



Tips & Treats

  • To make a successful whipped coconut cream, refrigerate the can of coconut milk before opening. Most sites suggest at least 4 hours, and I refrigerated mine overnight. It’s also best to chill everything you’re using to make the whipped cream-the beaters, the bowl, and maybe even in the spatula. Depending on what brand of cream you use (I used Goya), it may not separate as the original recipe describes, but it may be creamy throughout. It’s okay to use the whole can if this is the case, but be aware that it will be different from what you’re used to if you’re transitioning from Cool Whip or real whipped cream. The texture is slightly softer, but the taste is dramatically better (assuming you like coconut).
  • Just a quick note on sugar: if you’re entirely vegan, and you choose not to consume sugar that you’re unsure of the refining process for, check out this website for vegan-friendly sugars. Oh, and avoid Domino.


Omnivores Rejoice

  • If you’re not interested in making the Earth- and health-friendly replacements, you can substitute the gluten-free chocolate cookies for 25 chocolate wafer cookies, the Tofutti cream cheese for real cream cheese, and the coconut whipped cream for frozen Cool Whip. However, I encourage you to try something new and be open-minded, as this is one heck of a dessert that will blow any misconceptions of a healthy diet to smithereens.

Summer Muffin’ Had Me A Blast

I went a little nuts at farmer’s markets and at Trader’s Joe’s this past weekend. I couldn’t help it. Everything is so fresh and bright, and I love fruits and veggies. However, I’m terrible at using everything up from these produce binges before they start to spoil so I decided this time that I would just let the food inspire me. I was going to pick up whatever I felt like turning into something delicious. Since I’ve been craving fresh berries and fruit smoothies daily ever since the temperature started to creep up over 90 degrees, I decided I couldn’t pass up the chance to get some juicy red strawberries before the season started to wane.

I looooooooooove strawberries. I would pick a bowl of juicy, ripe strawberries over any cookie/brownie/cake in this world if I had the choice. I suppose that’s a bit of an extreme statement and may be a slight exaggeration, but when I think of that burst of sweetness from biting into a strawberry or how they make me feel after snacking on them over a heavier dessert, I tend to think it’s accurate. I think strawberries can be paired well with almost anything too-they’re fabulous in a spinach salad with balsamic vinaigrette, they’re refreshing in a bowl with sliced bananas and kiwis, and they’re lovely covered in dark chocolate.  And they make a really fabulous lemonade.

And because I was already getting lemons to surprise my fiance with homemade summer shandies (lemonade mixed with beer, all the rage on the beer scene right now), I figured maybe the lemons could do double duty.

They could flavor my beer and flavor my muffins. All at once.

What a fabulous summer idea. I don’t normally make muffins. In fact, I never make muffins because, quite frankly, I just feel like that’s far too many calories and too much sugar for something that normally doesn’t have any frosting on it that you’re supposed to consume for breakfast. Normally, I’d say “no thank you”, but I’ve had a recipe for strawberries and cream muffins sitting on my iPhone browser for approximately six months. I figured there had to be a reason, and since I had every other ingredient in them already waiting at home, I thought perhaps my strawberry raid at Trader Joe’s would finally be a good excuse to clear my browser history. The addition of lemon zest was just a fun little addition to satisfy the strawberry lemonade I’ve been craving.

Lemon Strawberry Cream Muffins

 



Stuff You’ll Need

 


Makes 16 cupcake-sized muffins

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup 2% milk
  • 2/3 cup regular half and half
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp almond extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 4 oz full-fat cream cheese, softened
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced into small pieces
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lemon zest


How to Do It

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and line 1-2 muffin pans with paper liners.
  2. Sift together the all-purpose flour, 3/4 cup granulated sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Lightly whisk the ingredients, and set aside.
  3. Blend the cream cheese, 1 1/2 Tbsp of the liquid from the lightly beaten egg, 1/3 cup granulated sugar, 1/4 tsp vanilla extract, and the lemon zest in a separate mixing bowl with a fork or small whisk. Once the mixture is blended but still soft (not liquid), set the bowl aside.
  4. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Add the vanilla and almond extracts, half and half, and milk into the saucepan, and continue the stir. Heat the mixture over low heat until it’s thoroughly warm but not bubbling. Continuously whisk the milk mixture while adding the eggs, and continue stirring until the ingredients are warm and just slightly thickened. Remove from heat.
  5. Pour the milk mixture evenly over the flour blend. Using a whisk, gently blend the ingredients together until they’re just uniform. Don’t over mix!
  6. Scoop the batter into the prepared pans, filling each cup about halfway up. Put several chunks of strawberries into each cup so they’re still visible, and spoon a tsp of the cream cheese mixture on top of each cup. Cover this with a small spoonful of the remaining batter, and top it with more strawberry chunks.
  7. Bake the muffins for 26-30 minutes or until they begin to brown around the edges and the tops spring back slightly when pressed lightly. Remove the muffins from the oven, and allow them to cool in the pan for 5 minutes on top of a wire cooling rack. Transfer the muffins to the wire cooling rack to finish cooling completely.

Recipe adapted from Jane’s Sweets & Baking Journal.


Finally, I can make room on my iPhone browser for something else! Stay tuned, my next little delight will be vegan-friendly 🙂

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