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

Easter Lunch

I think you’ll understand how my day is going if I tell you I’m writing this at the car repair shop. And that this is the third repair shop the car has been at this week. And I’m sick. And feverish. And frustrated. It’s been that kind of week. Do you have these weeks? I feel like life has been beating us up a bit lately.

But, it’s almost Easter, a season of hope. And it’s spring, what could be more uplifting than little green shoots forcing themselves up out of the ground? The weather here has been beautiful. I’m trying to take a few minutes each morning to just soak in the spring air, the beautiful view of my backyard, and be grateful that God has given me another day, another chance.

Photo courtesy of JJ Harrison (http://www.noodlesnacks.com/)

I hope life is treating you well. And, if not, I hope you know that you’re not alone. That there is some peace to be had. I’m hoping that by the time we get to church on Sunday morning I can feel some of that peace in my bones, soak it up, and let it be the salve that my wounds need.

Photo courtesy pf CC-BY-SA-3.0/Matt H. Wade at Wikipedia

But enough sad blithering, you’re here for the food, right? So let’s talk about Easter food. If you’re a regular reader, you’ll know that I’m pretty traditional in my holiday menus. I like to mix it up for parties, but I find that my family appreciates the more traditional foods at the holiday. Here’s the Easter menu.

  • Ham
  • Macaroni & Cheese
  • Asparagus
  • Peas or lima beans
  • Potato Salad
  • Deviled eggs
  • Rolls
  • Dessert (usually a springy cake)
  • Tea

Um, starch much? Okay, so maybe it’s not that bad. It’s one meal. We have protein and vegetables, too.

I don’t have lots of prep photos for you today, but I will share my recipes with you. None of this is hard. You can easily make this meal, even if you’re headed to church. I still manage to get the whole meal on the table at noon, we go to the 8:30 am service.

The day before:

  • Prep the ham – If you want to take the path of least resistance, get a spiral cut ham and prepare it according to the package directions. The key to making it awesome is garnishing. Once the ham is done (and they only require heating, not cooking) let it rest, then place it on your serving platter. Surround it by some dark (cheap) lettuces or herbs from your garden. If you have a few oranges or pineapples, slice those up and place them around the tray. Voila! No one will know Paula Deen isn’t in your kitchen.
  • Make the tea. Set the table. Put out all the platters and serving pieces you’ll need for tomorrow. Label them with post-its in case people show up and want to “help”.
  • Boil the macaroni noodles. It’s best to slightly undercook them because you want them to absorb the wonderful creamy sauce you’re going to make on the fly tomorrow.
  • Snap the ends off the asparagus, but keep them in water just as you would cut flowers. You can also use a vegetable peeler to shave down the stems. Don’t throw away the ends and peels, save them for soup or stock. Or compost, that’s fine too.
  • Make the potato salad. Oh, how I wish I cold share a recipe with you. But alas, I make it much the way my mom and grandma do, by taste and sight. Here’s a recipe that would be a good jumping off point. I would add a little sour cream and a tiny tiny bit of mustard to this. Most importantly, use a firm potato, fingerlings are my favorite. You don’t want a mushy potato for potato salad. And in our house, potato salad isn’t a garish yellow nor does it include pickles or pickle relish of any kind. If you like it that way, find your own recipe. :) Slice some hard-boiled eggs on top.
  • Make the Deviled Eggs. There is nothing more wonderful than a perfect deviled egg. But again, no pickles or pickle relish here. And no paprika on top. Only things that add to the flavor. Hard boil your eggs, peel them, slice them in half and remove the yolk. Mix the yolk with good, full fat mayo, a tiny bit of mustard, and garlic salt to taste. I like to make it a little saltier the day before then let them sit overnight in the fridge. Like the potato salad, they taste better the next day.
  • If you want to make homemade rolls, you want to start them today. Honey Butter Wheat Rolls would be awesome! But, because you might be rushing home from church, I’d recommend buying frozen roll dough from your grocery store and just thawing overnight in the fridge.
  • Make your dessert. I love a beautiful coconut cake, white and fluffy, or some kind of fruit dessert. This is one of my FAVORITE spring desserts. This Bunny Butt Cake from Betty Crocker is all over Pinterest. Personally, I would make it with a real cake, not a cake mix cake, but again, don’t kill yourself over it. A cake out of a box isn’t the worst thing ever. Icing out of a can is. My Nana used to make this bunny cake.

Photo courtesy of Betty Crocker

Easter Sunday: I find it helpful to create a timeline of when things need to go on the stove or into the oven. Work back from the time you want to eat. For instance, if you want to eat at noon and the ham needs to cook and rest for a total of 75 minutes you’ll want to start it no later than 10:45, but I’d shoot for 10:30. The mac and cheese needs 20 minutes of oven time and about 10 minutes on the stove. So you’d need to start it no later than 11:30. See where I’m going here? It’s also helpful to have this plan in case someone offers to help. Then you can tell them exactly what needs to be done. Little kids can put ice in the glasses, set out the butter, remind folks to wash up. Grown ups can follow behind, pouring tea and placing pre-prepared items on the table. Everyone else can get the heck out of the kitchen. Oh, wait, did I say that?

  • Heat the ham according to package directions. Let it rest. Garnish as mentioned above.
  • Make the cheese sauce for the Macaroni and Cheese (recipe below), assemble, and bake.
  • Boil water and steam asparagus.
  • Heat milk and butter to cook peas or lima beans.
  • Grease your muffin tin. Let the rolls rise. Put rolls in the oven and bake.
  • Dish up the potato salad and Deviled Eggs, garnish the Deviled Eggs with chives if you like. Spring onions would also be fine.
  • Pour the tea.
  • Put out butter for the rolls.
  • Done. Sit and enjoy!

Macaroni & Cheese

Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart

  • 1 tablespoon melted butter
  • 1/4 cup store-bought or 3/4 cup homemade breadcrumbs
  • 1 pound grated white cheddar cheese (4 cups)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 8 ounces elbow macaroni
  • 1 1/4 cups whole milk
  • 8 ounces cream cheese

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Butter and 8×8 or 9×9 pan. In a small bowl, toss 1 tablespoon melted butter with breadcrumbs and 1/4 cup cheddar.
  • In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook macaroni until al dente, according to package instructions; drain.
  • In a large saucepan over medium heat, bring milk to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; add cream cheese, cut into cubes, stir until melted, 2 minutes. Gradually stir in remaining cheddar until melted, 5 minutes. Add cooked pasta, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper; toss to combine.
  • Pour the mixture into the prepared dish. Bake until bubbling, 10 minutes. Remove from the oven; sprinkle with the breadcrumb mixture. Bake until golden, 10 minutes more.

What does your family like to eat for Easter? Are you brunch, lunch, or dinner people? Do you eat out or does someone cook?

Hoppy Easter!