Oh My! Whoopie Pie!

I go the library a lot. I don’t usually browse, but order my books online then retrieve them at the library. The wonderful folks at the library are kind enough to cull and shelve the books for me, but have also placed a large selection of cookbooks, my personal favorite, next to the reserved pick-up area. The Whoopie Pie Book caught my eye on such a pick-up day. I snagged it and brought it home. The cover is lovely and the information inside is even better! The books author, Claire Ptak, makes the recipes straightforward and easy to follow, though the icing creation is a bit intense, it’s not difficult and well worth the effort..

There are 60 recipes for the popular cake sandwiches, which seem to have become as ubiquitous as the cupcake. Like the cupcakes, I’ve eaten a few whoopie pies, and found many of them lacking. While I appreciate the need to make them quickly, using a boxed cake mix (or worse, canned icing, which I can barely force past my lips these days) does these tender little cakes a disservice. Once I narrowed in on which recipe I wanted to try first, I quickly knew this was THE way to make these wonderful little cakes.

My baby sister had a birthday coming, so I whipped up a batch in her honor. I chose the Chocolate Chip Whoopie Pies with Chocolate Marshmallow filling, which I knew she would like. Conveniently, I had the ingredients for these on hand! Sadly, she never got any of the whoopie pies, we ate them all.

Chocolate Chip Whoopie Pies

Recipes from The Whoopie Pie Book, copyright © Claire Ptak, 2011. Reprinted by permission of the publisher, The Experiment. Available wherever books are sold.

  • 2 c (280g) all purpose flour
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 1 1/2 t baking soda
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 9 T unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 c sugar
  • 1/2 c light brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 c buttermilk
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 c dark chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. In a bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and baking soda. Stir in the salt. Set aside.
  2. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugars together until light and fluffy. Add egg and mix well. Combine buttermilk and vanilla in measuring cup and add this to the mixture, beating until combined. Slowly add the dry ingredients in two batches until just incorporated. Stir in the chocolate chips. Refrigerate for thirty minutes. Try to avoid stuffing all the batter straight into your face.
  3. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. I use a Silpat.
  4. Using a small scoop (or two teaspoons) drop 18 large or 48 small scoops of batter about two inches apart onto the prepared baking sheets. Bake in the middle of the oven for 10-12 minutes (large) or 8-10 minutes (small), until the cakes are left with a slight indent when touched with a finger. Do not over bake.
  5. Remove to a wire rack and cool completely before frosting.

Chocolate Marshmallow Filling

  • 4 oz dark chocolate, broken into small pieces
  • 3 large egg whites
  • 3/4 c sugar
  • 2 T light corn syrup
  • pinch salt
  • 1 t vanilla extract
Directions:
  1. Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a tan of simmering water. Once the chocolate has melted, take the bowl off and let the chocolate cool.
  2. Return the pan of water to a boil. Place remaining ingredients into the stainless steel bowl of  a standing mixer, then place the bowl over the boiling water. Whisk continuously by hand until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is frothy and slightly opaque (10-15 minutes).
  3. Remove the bowl from the heat and transfer to mixer. Whip using a whisk attachment on high speed until it is white and holds its shape. Fold in the  melted chocolate. Ice the cooled whoopie pies immediately.

Don’t be daunted by the icing preparation. I got Mr. Bundt to whip and he felt important. He is also taller and has more muscles than me, so it gave me the opportunity to stroke his ego a bit. Then I fed him these. Now he thinks I’m the best thing ever. Win/win I’d say.

The icing recipe makes plenty, so stuff your pies as full of icing as you can stand. I like just enough to wet them down a little, but you can do yours your way! These would be lots of fun to assemble with kids. Let them fill the sandwiches, then you could roll the edges in sprinkles, chopped nuts, tiny chocolate chips, whatever you like. If you’re too chicken to make the icing, how about filling them with a scoop of ice cream?

Can’t get enough whoopie pies? Check out these recipes!

The Pioneer Woman’s Oatmeal Whoopie Pies

Chocolate Whoopie Pies by bakerella

It’s Pi Day, Pi Day, Gotta Get Down on Pi Day!

Partyin’ partyin’. Partyin’ partyin’. Oh, sorry, my apologies for going all Rebecca Black on you. But it is. Or it will be. You know. 3/14? Remember waaaaaaay back to high school? Pi? 3.14? Anyway, whether you remember or not, lots of people celebrate 3/14 with P-I-E in honor of P-I. Are you still with me?

Here’s the rub. I don’t really like pie. I’m a cake girl. All the way. So how does a cake girl celebrate Pi Day? I have been known to indulge in pie from time to time, so I’m going to share a few favorite recipes with you. Hopefully, you’ll enjoy one (or more!) of them sometime soon! And think back fondly to those high school days when things like pi actually concerned you!

This recipe is from my Dad’s Mom. She was a wonderful cook and I have her original recipe. It’s a quick and easy pie, perfect for spring or summer! I like this pie because it’s creamy, unlike Lemon Meringue. I would serve this with a dollop of whipped cream, I don’t care for meringue.

Lemon Icebox Pie

  • 1 graham cracker crumb crust
  • 1 can Eagle Brand
  • 2 egg yolks, beaten
  • 1/2 c lemon juice

Mix together. Pour into crust. Refrigerate until set, at least a few hours or overnight. You can top with whipped cream or meringue (browned) if you like.

Here’s a pie that’s not quite a pie. It’s from the gentlemen bakers at Baked, a Brooklyn, New York bakery. They have a cookbook of the same name. It’s awesome, you should totally check it out. Back to the pie in question, it’s really more of an oversized chocolate chip cookie. And it’s wonderfulllll. Holy moly! If you only make one pie in your life, make it this one. Served warm with a scoop of ice cream it’s unbeatable.

Tuscaloosa Tollhouse Pie

Recipe courtesy of the Baked, New Frontiers in Baking cookbook

  • 1 ball of pie dough chilled (or, a store-bought crust, if you must)
  • 1/2 c all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 c granulated sugar
  • 1/2 c firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 c (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened, cut into cubes
  • 1 T whiskey
  • 3/4 c walnuts, toasted and chopped
  • 1 1/4 c (about 8 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips

Dust a work surface with a sprinkling of flour. Unwrap the ball of chilled dough and put it directly on the work surface. Roll out into a 12-inch round. Transfer the dough to a pie dish and carefully work it into the pie dish, fold­ing any overhang under and crimping the edge as you go. Don’t stretch the dough to fit, it will shrink. Wrap and freeze the crust until firm, about 2 hours, or up to 3 months.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a medium bowl, whisk the flour and sugars together until combined. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the eggs on high speed until foamy, about 3 minutes. Remove the whisk attach­ment and add the paddle attachment. With the mixer on low, gradually add the flour mixture. Turn the mixer to high and beat for 2 minutes. Scrape down the bowl and add the butter. Beat on high speed until the mixture is combined. Scrape down the bowl, add the whiskey, and beat the mixture on high speed for 1 minute.

Fold the walnuts and 3/4 cup of the chocolate chips into the filling.

Pour the filling into the frozen pie shell and spread it out evenly. Top the fill­ing with the remaining 1/2 cup chocolate chips.

Bake in the center of the oven for 25 minutes, then cover the edges of the crust loosely with aluminum foil and bake for another 25 minutes (this will prevent the crust from browning too quickly). Test the pie by sticking a knife in the center of the filling. If the knife comes out clean, the pie is done. If the knife comes out with clumps of filling sticking to it, bake for another 5 minutes and test again. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool before slicing.

The pie can be stored in the refrigerator, tightly covered, for up to 2 days.

Pie Dough (makes 2 singles or 1 double-crust pie)

  • 3 c flour
  • 1 T sugar
  • 1 t  fine salt
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, cold
  • 3/4 c ice water

Whisk together flour, sugar, and salt. Cut the cold butter into cubes and toss the cube in the flour mixture to coat. Put the mixture into the blow of a food processor and pulse in short bursts until the butter cubes are the size of hazelnuts.

While pulsing in quick, 4-second bursts, drizzle the ice water into the food processor through the feed tube.

As soon as the dough comes together in a ball, remove it from the processor and divide it into two equal balls. Flatten to a disk and wrap in parchment paper, then plastic wrap. Refrigerate the disks until firm, about an hour, before using.

Apple PieWho doesn’t love apple pie? Communists. But they may like to too. I don’t know for sure, I haven’t asked any. But everyone likes apple pie. And this recipe is so good, why wouldn’t you? This is my go-to apple pie recipe. I think you’ll agree that it’s pretty awesome.Apple Pie

Recipe courtesy of the Food Network

Dough

  • 2 1/2 c all-purpose flour
  • 4 t sugar
  • 1/4 t fine salt
  • 14 T cold butter, diced
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten with 2 tablespoons cold water
Filling
  • 2 T freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 3 pounds baking apples like Golden Delicious, Cortland, or Mutsu
  • 2/3 c sugar, plus more for sprinkling on the pie
  • 1/4 c unsalted butter
  • 1/4 t ground cinnamon
  • Generous pinch of ground nutmeg
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten

Make the dough in a food processor. With the machine fitted with the metal blade, pulse the flour, sugar, and salt until combined. Add the butter and pulse until it resembles yellow corn meal mixed with bean size bits of butter, about 10 times. Add the egg and pulse 1 to 2 times; don’t let the dough form into a ball in the machine. (If the dough is very dry add up to a tablespoon more of cold water.) Remove the bowl from the machine, remove the blade, and bring the dough together by hand.

Form the dough into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, at least 1 hour.

Make the filling. Put the lemon juice in a medium bowl. Peel, halve, and core the apples. Cut each half into 4 wedges. Toss the apple with the lemon juice. Add the sugar and toss to combine evenly.

In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the apples, and cook, stirring, until the sugar dissolves and the mixture begins to simmer, about 2 minutes. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook until the apples soften and release most of their juices, about 7 minutes.

Strain the apples in a colander over a medium bowl to catch all the juice. Shake the colander to get as much liquid as possible. Return the juices to the skillet, and simmer over medium heat until thickened and lightly caramelized, about 10 minutes.

In a medium bowl, toss the apples with the reduced juice and spices. Set aside to cool completely. (This filling can be made up to 2 days ahead and refrigerated or frozen for up to 6 months.)

Cut the dough in half. On a lightly floured surface, roll each half of dough into a disc about 11 to 12 inches wide. Layer the dough between pieces of parchment or wax paper on a baking sheet, and refrigerate for at least 10 minutes.

Place a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Line the bottom of a 9-inch pie pan with one of the discs of dough, and trim it so it lays about 1/2 inch beyond the edge of the pan. Put the apple filling in the pan and mound it slightly in the center. Brush the top edges of the dough with the egg. Place the second disc of dough over the top. Fold the top layer of dough under the edge of the bottom layer and press the edges together to form a seal. Flute the edge as desired. Brush the surface of the dough with egg and then sprinkle with sugar. Pierce the top of the dough in several places to allow steam to escape while baking. Refrigerate for at least 15 minutes.

Bake the pie on a baking sheet until the crust is golden, about 50 minutes. Cool on a rack before serving. The pie keeps well at room temperature (covered) for 24 hours, or refrigerated for up to 4 days.

What is your favorite pie? Do you celebrate Pi Day? Does your family celebrate any other wacky holidays? Arbor Day, perhaps?

Sweets for Your Sweetie: Valentine’s Sugar Cookies

Three things happened Friday.

  1. I made these awesome sugar cookies for you.
  2. I also made this awesome Lentil Stew.
  3. Mr. Bundt pouted because I wouldn’t let him eat the wet cookies until they dried and I photographed them.
  4. The police pulled a man out of the shed of the vacant house next door to mine.

True story. More about that later. And that’s four things. I know.

I am a cooking blog junkie. I love to read them, I love to look at the pretty pictures, I love hearing about other people’s lives and where they live and what they like to eat. I love it all and I get some great inspiration from them. But sometimes I see something that’s outside the realm of what I think I can reasonably do. Like these fancy sugar cookies.

Fancy sugar cookies for your sweetie!

I had kind of made them bigger in my head than they really are. In fact, these simple cookies are so easy that I want you to try them. For your sweetie. For yourself. For the hot guy at work who you wish was your sweetie. To drown your sorrows about the lack of a sweetie. Whatever. Just make them.

One of the blogs I follow is Bake at 350. Bridget, the brains and beauty behind Bake at 350, makes some pretty amazing cookies. And she’s kind enough to share her recipes and techniques with the world. Before I launched into my cookie making, I read everything I could about the process on her blog. You can click here to find her recipes for Vanilla Almond Sugar Cookies and Royal Icing. I followed the recipes faithfully since it was my first time trying “fancy” sugar cookies. Any time you use a recipe for the first time you should always follow it as closely as possible, otherwise you won’t know if it worked or not.

Cookie collage

Here’s the baking process. Super easy. I did get some close ups because some of my cookies had little pimples in them. Not sure why this happened, but the icing covered it up perfectly So if yours have pimples too, don’t worry. I used a regular and a scalloped heart-shaped cookie cutter.

Then the icing. This is the part I was nervous about. But Bridget’s directions were very clear and there’s even a FAQ section where you can get more information. The icing came together easily and I filled two bags, one pink and one white, to pipe the dam. That’s the firm rim of icing that will hold in the flooded icing you will do later. I used a #3 tip, see more tips here, which worked well. If you’re trying this for the first time and don’t want to invest in tips, try a thick zipper baggie. I bet it would work fine.

Making the dam

You can see the edges are kind of wriggledy in places. Next time I will definitely try to have a steadier hand. I used a damp finger to mash down the places where icing popped up. Then it was time to thin out the icing and flood my cookies. Flooding is what gives the cookies the smooth surface.

Icing Collage

Here you can see the original consistency of the icing and the thinned out icing for flooding. I filled the dams and then used a toothpick to coax the icing up to the edge of the dam. Now the fun part!

I tried several different types of designs on the cookies and also played with the consistency of the icing as I worked. This helped me to see what type of icing worked best for each application. You don’t need to do all this though. Decide on what kind of cookie you want and then make lots of them if it’s easier for you. I like dropping dots of different colored icing onto the flooded base then dragging a toothpick through for swirls and hearts. You can see some beautiful ones from Martha Stewart here.

Completed Cookies

I was really pleased with how they turned out, especially for my first try! Once I worked with the icing and saw things I could do differently, lots of possible cookies popped into my head. There are lots of beautiful cookies to see on Bake at 350. I hope you’ll check them out and get inspired like I did!

What a great gift for your child’s friends, teachers, or your sweetie!

Finished product

So, what are you doing for your sweeties this Valentine’s Day? Have you ever made these fancy sugar cookies before? How did yours turn out?

Oh, and for more about the man in the shed, click here.