Archive for: whoopie pies
A fluffernutter is a sandwich that is filled with peanut butter and marshmallow fluff or marshmallow cream. The combination of sweet and salty works extremely well, making this gooey sandwich a favorite of just about any kid who has even had one. It’s the kind of thing that I don’t necessarily eat on a regular basis as an adult, but I still can’t resist the combination when it comes up and get a craving for it every now and then. These Fluffernutter Whoopie Pies are inspired by this delicious sandwich.
The whoopie pies have cake-like rounds of peanut butter cookies as their foundation, and they are filled with a mixture of marshmallow cream and peanut butter. You get a great peanut butter flavor and the marshmallow adds just the right amount (which is to say, quite a bit) of sweetness to make the whoopie pie exactly what you would expect to get from a fluffernutter. The peanut butter cake/cookies are actually quite good on their own, and they stand up well to the filling. You can use smooth peanut butter, but I prefer to use crunchy so that there is a little bit more texture in these.
Regular, national brand peanut butters work well for both the cake and the filling, since they tend to have a good salty-sweet balance. Natural peanut butters also work, but tend to get a little bit gooey in the filling since they have a softer texture, so you might want to pack a few extra napkins. The marshmallow fluff also gets a bit messy in the filling – although I tend to think that it is part of the fun of eating a fluffernutter! – so I recommend filling these just before you intend to serve them. The cookies will keep very well when stored in an airtight container, so you can even make those a day or two in advance and fill them at the last minute.
Oatmeal Cream Pies are a snack cake made by Little Debbie that have a sweet cream filling sandwiched between two soft oatmeal cookies. The treat is essentially a whoopie pie that uses oatmeal cookies as a base, but whatever you call them, the pies are pretty tasty. These Lemon Oatmeal Cream Pies are a springtime variation on those popular pies.
The cookies are a fairly straightforward oatmeal cookie that bakes up to be thin and fairly crisp. They’re flavored with fresh lemon zest and a little bit of lemon juice, which gives them a bright but subtle lemon flavor. The crisp cookies are also very easy to handle and work with because they’re not as fragile as thin, chewy cookies can be. When you add the lemon filling to sandwich them together, the cookies soften up and the whole thing takes on the perfect, slightly chewy texture that you want to find in any oatmeal pie.
I added my lemon zest to my butter and sugar while creaming them together to start the cookie dough. Beating your zest with the sugar helps to release even more lemon oil from that lemon zest, and you’ll get a bit more flavor adding it in at this point than you would if you stirred the zest in later in the recipe. If you don’t have fresh lemon to flavor these pies, you can substitute a little bit of lemon extract into the cookie dough and the filling to give them a nice lemon flavor, but you will get the best flavor when using fresh lemon zest and juice.
The cookie store very well and actually get better after a day or so has gone by, since the lemon flavor becomes more pronounced and the cookies only improve in texture with time. Keep them stored in an airtight container and these cookies will be an excellent choice for a bake-ahead dessert for a springtime brunch – or just to enjoy as an everyday treat.
The winning recipe from the 2012 Ghirardelli Chocolate Championships, which I judged at the LA County Fair this year, was for Mini Whoopie Passion Bites. These are Mini Chocolate Passion Fruit Whoopie Pies, with a rich, brownie-like cookie sandwiching a sweet, tangy passion fruit filling. The combination is delicious and unexpected, as passion fruit and chocolate isn’t a combination that you find all that often, and that is one of the reasons that it won top spot in the contest. The other reason is that these mini whoopie pies are downright delicious. The brownies are fudgy and have a great chocolate flavor, and the filling is a perfect contrast.
The cookies here are tender and have a fantastic chocolate flavor because they are essentially brownies, and not as cake-like as the cookies for some other whoopie pies are. The filling is a sweet-tart passion fruit frosting made with cream cheese, butter, confectioners’ sugar and passion fruit puree. You can find passion fruit puree frozen in some specialty markets (and you can always use a fresh passion fruit), but many markets carry passion fruit juice or passion fruit puree in cans in a specialty aisle. It is worth tracking down – and this would make a great frosting for all kinds of other cakes and cupcakes, too.
The original recipe calls for baking the whoopie pies in a mini whoopie pie pan. This is great if you have one and makes the process very easy, but if you don’t have one, I strongly recommend piping your batter onto a parchment-lined baking sheet instead. The batter is thick, but thin enough to pipe easily, and it is much easier to get round (and similarly sized) dollops of batter onto your baking sheet when piping then by trying to “drop” the batter with a spoon. You can use a piping bag or a large ziploc bag with the corner snipped off, as both will do the trick. I have written the piping directions into the recipe below, but feel free to use a mini whoopie pie pan if you have one.
These brownie whoopie pies would actually be very good with all kinds of filling, so once you’ve tried the passion fruit version here, you can experiment with other flavors like vanilla, chocolate mint or even lemon. I also recommend substituting the milk chocolate for all dark chocolate if you are a dark chocolate fan, as you will get the same good results with a slightly more intense chocolate flavor that way (I also used dark chocolate in my drizzle on top of the cookies). The contest, of course, is sponsored by Ghirardelli and their products definitely deliver some excellent results here. If you can’t get your hands on them, however, be sure to choose another high quality chocolate to work with when making this recipe.
Over the past few years, as whoopie pies have become more popular, whoopie pie pans have become increasingly common. These pans have shallow cavities that allow you to easily shape the cookie portions of your whoopie pies to ensure that they are always the same size and will create a good-looking finished product. A Mini Whoopie Pie Pan, like this one from Wilton, does the same thing on a much smaller scale and is an even more fun piece of bakeware to have in the kitchen.
The mini whoopie pie pan has 24 cavities that make cookies about half the size of those made with a full sized whoopie pie pan. The pan is nonstick, so any cookie dough or batter that you bake in it will release cleanly and have a perfectly round shape. Mini pies can be a lot easier to handle and eat than full sized pies because you can finish them in two bites, and don’t need to worry about getting frosting all over your fingers. But I find that I really like the size of the cavities in general and, just like a mini muffin pan, I find that there are a lot of options with a pan like this one. The cavities are neither too big nor to small, and that means that you can bake just about anything in there in addition to actual whoopie pies. Brownie batter turns into fudgy cookies, vanilla wafer dough does well in perfect circles and muffin batter turns into mini muffin tops.
I think of whoopie pies as a fun dessert, rather than a serious one. It’s not that they can’t be seriously delicious, but since they tend to be single serving treats without fancy decorations that you can eat with your hands, it’s easy to put them in the “fun” category. I love fun desserts because you can do so much with them. You can incorporate crazy flavors and crazy colors, making the treats even more fun and very festive. I wouldn’t color my apple pie red, white and blue with food coloring, for instance, but I didn’t hesitate to use them to turn a batch of whoopie pies into one of the most fun 4th of July desserts that you can eat!
These Red, White and Blue Whoopie Pies are rounds of cookie-like white cake that sandwich a creamy vanilla buttercream frosting. I used red and blue food coloring to tint the whoopie pie batter, and kept the frosting a bright white. It can be tricky to get a good red and blue color to baked goods (especially with blue), so I recommend being a bit generous when you add your coloring into the batter because those colors don’t get any darker during baking. Regular food coloring will work well, but gel food colorings are even better and deliver a stronger color. Starting with a white cake batter, rather than a yellow cake batter, also helps ensure that you get a good color in the finished product because the batter will be a bit more of a blank slate to begin with.
This batter is much more like cake batter than cookie dough, so while you can simply dollop it onto your baking sheet in rough rounds, you will get much better results if you pipe the batter into rounds instead. It takes an extra step to fill the piping bags, but the whole process goes much faster and with a lot more consistency if you go for it.
The cake portion of the pies are a little more dense than your average cake, but that makes them easy to handle and hold while you eat. They have a light vanilla and almond flavor to them, and they’re not very sweet on their own. They make a great base for all that vanilla buttercream, which is sweet, buttery and contrasts well in both color and flavor. Be generous with the frosting, both for the added sweetness and to get the maximum impact of your red, white and blue dessert.