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I’ll admit I’m not a cook. I sometimes even need help remembering how to cook soft boiled eggs (thankfully EverythingMom has this guide). Even though cooking isn’t my really my specialty, I do love baking. Maybe it’s the mom in me, serving fresh banana bread as a snack in my kids’ lunches or chewy oatmeal chocolate chip cookies on a rainy Saturday while playing board games. I love that feeling. Whoopie Pies are one of those delicious treats I have enjoyed but have never made myself, until recently.

The folks at Raincoast books sent me along the cookbook Whoopie Pies. Dozens of Mix’em, Match’em, Eat’em Up Recipes, by Sarah Billingsley and Amy Treadwell.

The book offers some general tidbits on making, storing and freezing whoopie pies as well as some fun facts. Did you know whoopie pies are better known as Gobs in parts of Pennsylvania where they originate?

But the real meat of the book (or should I say cream) is the tasty recipes, like the Classic Whoopie Pie with Marshmallow Filling:

Classic Chocolate Whoopie

1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 tablespoons vegetable shortening
1 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup milk

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 375F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt onto a sheet of waxed paper. In the work bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter, shortening, and brown sugar on low speed until just combined. Increase the speed to medium and beat until fluffy and smooth, about 3 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla and beat for another 2 minutes.

Add half of the flour mixture and half of the milk to the batter and beat on low until just incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the remaining flour mixture and 1/2 cup milk and beat until completely combined.

Using a spoon, drop about 1 tablespoon of batter onto one of the prepared baking sheets and repeat, spacing them at least 2 inches apart. Bake one sheet at a time for about 10 minutes each, or until the pies spring back when pressed gently.

Remove from the oven and let the cakes cool on the sheet for about 5 minutes before transferring them to a rack to cool completely.

Classic Marshmallow

1 1⁄2 cups Marshmallow Fluff (or other prepared marshmallow cream, which will do in a pinch)
1 1/4 cups vegetable shortening
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

In the work bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the Marshmallow Fluff and the vegetable shortening, starting on low and increasing to medium speed until the mixture is smooth and fluffy about 3 minute. Reduce mixer speed to low, add the confectioners’ sugar and the vanilla, and beat until incorporated.

Increase mixer speed to medium and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes more.

Cookbook_review_whoopie_piesI was surprised at how easy these are to make and how tasty even my results were. I should point out it took me two attempts to make the marshmallow filling. I’m not use to using vegetable shortening in my baking and tried vegetable oil instead (my mind playing tricks on me). Trust me, it’s not the same thing. But when I realized and corrected my mistake, the end result was tasty.

Whoopie Pies divides its recipes in two parts, offering a variety of cake recipes (like gingerbread, vanilla, peanut butter) at the front followed by a collection of creamy filling recipes at the back (such as chocolate butter cream, maple, coconut cream). You’re encouraged to mix and match your favourite cake and filling flavours to create some tasty combinations such as S’More (graham cracker whoopie with a chocolate ganache and classic marshmallow filling) or Creamsicle (vanilla whoopie with orange cream cheese filling and orange marmalade). Whoopie Pie contains some gluten-free and vegan recipes too.

After my success with the classic whoopie pie, I’m looking forward to making the pumpkin whoopie with cream cheese filling, perfect for the approaching Thanksgiving holiday.

Excerpted from Whoopie Pies by Sarah Billingsley and Amy Treadwell. Copyright © 2010 by Sarah Billingsley and Amy Treadwell. Excerpted by permission of Chronicle Books. All rights reserved.

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