Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Wicked...

My introduction was far from pleasant. I was in bed defenseless the first time I tasted whoopie pie, pieces shoved into my unsuspecting mouth. Strange to recall now, yet disturbingly true. I was too thin and in need of fattening up, she was going through a bad time and needed an excuse to buy decadent treats. J_ my irrepressibly loud attendant, the one with the gravelly smoker’s voice and Boston accent, the woman who wore leopard print velour leggings and entered my quiet home and tranquil mornings with the cacophonic slam and crash of bags, purses, and every possible moving thing held me captive with a sweet tooth she kept foisting onto me to share.

Key lime mousse torte, ricotta filled cannoli, pumpkin cheesecake, quick breads made from too much zucchini and an overload of nervous energy, all this and more kept filing past my kitchen counter at a mind numbing insulin raising clip. In spite of being near buried by an avalanche of sugar, I could not help noticing her propensity for whoopie pies: mom and pop corner store ones, puffy commercially produced synthetically filled ones; softball shaped and sized ones, even holiday themed ones. In instinctual defense I turned inside myself like a hermit crab shutting off to any possibility for full-on whoopie appreciation. Until recently-- from gentler hands, upright and in the mood, a re-introduction to this hand held confection had me swooning and righting myself round again.

Whoopie pies simply are the stuff of kids’ dreams. Two fetchingly soft and sloped chocolate cookies good naturedly cradle a satiny white cream filling to produce something ‘tween a cookie and a cake. While these quintessential New England treats somewhat resemble the Hostess Suzy –Q’s of lunchbox fame, its over-the-top size, taste and texture wins discerning fans respectably mature and youthful alike.

Though relatively new to this down home comfort food, it clearly answers a call put forth long ago when I was young, unbridled and hungry. Then it seemed as if I was always scanning the horizon for something immeasurably sweet to make up for the boredom of everyday food consumption and the exhaustive efforts of constant play. As well, I wanted more- and lots of it. I was calculating and angling eternally for the bigger piece of pie, stretching my fingers broad to grab a heftier handful of cookies. I willed myself to enjoy adult bitter chocolate since it would increase the consumable yield of my Halloween stash by some small fraction. Loyal only to quenching my hunger, even taste occasionally needed to take a backseat to quantity.

And then there was cake. Better than saltines and Ritz crackers. Better than Millbrook bread, staple of my youth. Serving to serving, loftier than cookies, fatter than brownies, more filling than pie, I preferred cake. This was my food of deliverance. While the holy host, dry and stale wafer is the living body of Christ wedding one to eternal life, soft moist cake embraces the here and now and celebrates every day life on humbler ground. It is warm inviting hug, the promise and hope of lazy summer days. It is the sigh and fulfillment of things wanted, besides leaving a sweet lingering taste behind.

So whoopie pies are the wild uncompromising love children between wholesome if not moderate cake and irresponsibly sweet, drunk-on-vanilla filling. If eaten correctly, hands and cheeks will be dappled and smudged with chocolate crumb stained cream and euphoric feelings will gradually take over rendering one useless for serious matters. These chocolate gobs should not be eaten alone (unless fatally depressed, then it may be advisable to eat two) but amidst jovial company and with chasers of milk. They should never be miniaturized into degrading versions of their jolly ample self. They are the epitome of sweet generosity, innocence and delicious fun. And here in these parts, that translates into being wicked… wicked good that is.

Whoopie Pies makes 4 pies which feeds 16 average eaters and 8 hungry ones: I went straight to the “best of” source, Mr. Christopher Kimball himself. This recipe comes directly from a Kitchen Detective article. His strategy was to produce two very distinct components. The cake-ish cookie was to be moist, yet substantial enough to withstand firm hand pressure without crumbling apart. He also didn’t use vanilla or too much sugar, so that the cake would stand in contrast to the filling which generously uses both. The filling needed to be fluffy yet have enough body so that bites would not send the insides oozing dangerously out the sides. All in all the pies were pretty wonderful. The filling is the best I have ever had. The whoopie pies were worth eating for this alone. Next time I would add 2 oz. of melted unsweetened chocolate to the batter, to intensify the flavor. Note: I did subsequently make these with the additional chocolate and it was better. I ended up altering the butter/confectionery sugar slightly from the original posting as well.

Ingredients for the cookie:
½ C whole milk
½ C Dutch process cocoa

2 oz. unsweetened chocolate
1 C sugar
1 stick unsalted butter
2 large eggs
1 ¾ C all-purpose flour
¾ tsp. baking powder
¾ tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. salt

Filling:
1 1/4 stick unsalted butter at room temperature
1 3/4 confectioners’ sugar
2 C Marshmallow Fluff
¼ tsp. salt
1 ½ tsp. vanilla

Directions: For the cakes, preheat oven to 350. Place parchment on 2 cookie sheets and set aside. Make a slurry with the milk and cocoa in a small pan. Turn heat onto medium, add sugar, unsweetened chocolate and butter mixing until melted. Turn off heat and let the mixture sit for ten minutes. Add both eggs to the cooled chocolate and blend until mixture is shiny. Sift dry ingredients in an electric mixer bowl and add the chocolate. Blend on low until just mixed. Scrape down sides and increase speed to medium for about 90 seconds. Spoon about 4 tablespoons of mixture into a mound on the parchment. Leave 2 inches of space around the cookie. 4 similar size cookies per sheet. Repeat on the next cookie sheet. Bake in oven for approximately 8 -10 minutes until toothpick comes out clean. Do not overbake! Cool.

Meanwhile make the filling. Whip butter at medium speed for about 1 minute. Add sugar on low until incorporated. Increase speed to medium high and whip until light and fluffy for about 3 minutes. Add the Fluff, salt, and vanilla and whip an additional minute or so. Refrigerate. To assemble the whoopie pies, flip over 4 discs so that the flat sides are up. Slather the filling equally between the 4 discs and top with the remaining cookies. Cover loosely and refrigerate to help hold shape. After an hour serve or wrap them individually in saran wrap. Enjoy with a big glass of milk.

11 comments:

Honeycake said...

I am completely shocked! Marshmallow creme, I thought, would be the filling. Butter, confectioner's sugar AND MC! OW! my fillings are aching! Go Cally!

Ilva said...

oh this sounds so nice! I'm bookmarking this but I wanted to ask you one thing, if I can find mashmallow fluff, which I doubt, what can I use instead??

Lydia said...

Whoopie pies bring back memories from my childhood -- in the same wonderful category with Twinkies and s'mores. Thanks for the recipe.

Callipygia said...

honeycake- I don't like things too sweet, but if you have ever had good buttercream it is absolutely ethereal. Eat some and weep!

ilva- Should I send you some, if so email me your address. Have you ever made homemade marshmallows? This is very easy to make, before the mixture hardens it is the appropriate consistency to "fluff". I believe you could substitute this quite easily!

lydia- Ohh you would be the perfect whoopie guinea pig! I don't usually eat too much "junk" but i'm finding my inner child screaming quite loudly for these. I just bought another bottle of fluff.

miragee said...

Lately I've indulged myself to treats of sweets. I can't agree with you more in the remark that life sometimes is too boring and that only cakes and cookies can make it more bearable:-). And we can get addicted to these goodies!

sher said...

Yes! (She screamed with wild abandon.) Whoopie pies are so wonderful. I made some last year and they were marvelous. It was fun buying the marshmallow fluff again too. I'll be trying your recipe. (She screamed with wild abandon.)

jbird said...

I was privy to THE aforementioned whoopie pie, and it was fantastic, the day of and the day after, sitting in Portland airport, eating that wonderful 1/3 of a pie and wanting to drive back and wrestle any remaining pies in your delicious fridge. Thanks for the heavenly treat sensation(s). I dont know if I am a fan of all whoopie pies but yours are
dee-vine!

Callipygia said...

miragee- Treats definitely do make life sweet!

Sher- We both are screaming in wild abandon. I know that I am positively giddy eating these and plan on making them again this weekend to make them even better. If you do make these let me know what you think about the recipe.

Jbird- I would have happily given up the rest of the whoopie in the refrigerator to see your beautiful face again!

Monkey Wrangler said...

We have some leftover buttercream frosting in the freezer from a wedding cake my wife made a few weeks back. Perhaps this is it's reason to be thawed out and slathered on some tasty cookies!

(Sorry it's soooo late too, but, Happy Birthday!)

Ilva said...

Thanks! Have i got it right that I can use marshmallows instead? in that case I have no problems, it's the pure fluff I can't find.

Lis said...

You know, I've never had a good whoopie pie. I know!!! It's a tragedy. *sniff*

I've only had commercially made pies and they are all dry and the filling is usually waxy and greasy.

Now I can make some from scratch and experience what a really whoopie pie should taste like - yay!

I have a picture in my mind of you sitting in a big over stuffed chair, with a huge smile on your face - cheeks covered in chocolate and marshmallow fluff, fingers extended with the same gooey goodness clinging to each one. heheee! I love that!

xoxo