» Whoopie Pies

Whoopie Pies


November 20, 2010 4:21 am

Filed under: Saturday Letter,Uncategorized — Darina Allen @

It’s just possible that Whoopie Pies may be the ‘next cupcake’- ‘Homey’ to look at, totally scrumptious to eat but mercifully less luscious icing than a cupcake – so what are they? Well let’s ask the experts – According to Claire Ptak of Violet Cakes in East London, who has just written a book on the subject,  ‘a whoopie is not a cookie, it’s not a typical cake, and it’s definitely not a pie. Whoopie Pies hail from the Amish communities of the US. School children and farmers in Pennsylvania Amish are said to have responded to finding these special treats in their lunch boxes with a resounding ‘Whoopie!’  They exist in a scrumptious parallel universe somewhere between cupcakes and ice cream sandwiches’.

I was longing to find some good recipes. Claire Ptak has written the first cook book I’ve come across on the Whoopie Pies. It comes with Jamie Oliver’s wholehearted endorsement “an absolutely gorgeous book by my favourite cake maker in the whole world”.

Claire has quite a following. If you pop over to London you’ll find her behind her Violet Cake stall at the Broadway Market in Hackney on Saturday morning selling sweet and savoury treats. There will probably be a queue three to six deep, from local kids to Stella McCartney and Keira Knightly. She has also opened a little Violet café and cake shop on nearby Wilton Way which sells her famous American style cupcakes.

Claire, originally from California has quite a pedigree, she worked as a pastry cook and eventually a pastry chef for Alice Waters at Chez Panisse in Berkeley before moving to London. She also cooks occasional Secret Suppers in her East London kitchen, one of the growing number of sought after pop-up restaurants in the London area. Her friends and devotees follow eagerly on Twitter and Facebook.

Back to the Whoopie Pie. It’s not a cookie or a typical cake and despite the name definitely not a pie. In fact no one seems to be able to explain why it’s called a whoopie pie, maybe it’s just because it has a rhythmic ring to it. It’s more like a little cake sandwich with the icing in between.

Once you get hooked you’ll find that you can adapt lots of your own recipes but the original is all American. Whoopies originated in the US in the 1920’s, although no one seems to know precisely where.

Typically whoopee pies are made in 10cm (4 inch) rounds but when I ate a couple of those recently I was guilt ridden for the rest of the day. Fortunately Claire gives instructions for smaller sized ones, perfect for children’s tiny fingers or for me when I crave just a little treat.

In this cute little Whoopie bakers bible, Claire gives recipes for over 60 variations on the theme from chocolate, coconut, kirch, lemon, peanut butter and rose pistachio to special flavours like Christmas Cake Whoopie, Easter Egg whoopie and many more.  She also included her favourite brownie recipe worth the price of the book alone.  Serve with chocolate sauce, vanilla ice cream and cherries in syrup; it will get you anything you want!

The Whoopie Pie Book, Published by Square Peg 2010

Claire Ptak

Violet

47 Wilton Way

E83 ED London

Broadway Market

E8 London

www.violetcakes.com

info@violetcakes.com

Claire Ptak’s Chocolate Whoopie with Fluffy Marshmallow Filling

The whoopie pie that started it all: moist, spongy, dark chocolate cake sandwiched around a fluffy marshmallow centre. Once you taste it, you’ll understand what all the fuss is about.

Filling suggestion: Fluffy Marshmallow (see recipe)

Makes about 9 large or 24 mini whoopie pies

175g (6oz/1 1/2 cups) plain flour

100g (3 1/2 oz) unsweetened cocoa powder

1 1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

125g (4 1/2 oz/generous 1 stick) unsalted butter, softened

200g (7oz/scant 1 cup) sugar

1 large egg

225ml (8fl oz/1 cup) buttermilk

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°/Gas Mark 4.

Line 2 trays with baking paper.

In a bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, bicarbonate of soda and baking powder. Stir in the salt and set aside.

In a separate bowl, cream the softened butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, using an electric hand whisk or a freestanding mixer fitted with the flat beater. Add the egg and mix well. Add the buttermilk and vanilla and beat until well combined. Slowly add the dry ingredients in 2 batches, mixing until just incorporated. Chill for 30 minutes before using.

Drop 18 large or 48 small scoops of batter, about 5cm (2 inches) apart, onto the prepared baking trays. Bake in the middle of the oven for 10 – 12 minutes for large whoopies or 8 – 10 minutes for mini whoopies, until the cakes are left with a slight impression when touched with a finger.

Remove from the oven to a wire rack and cool completely.

To Assemble

Spread or pipe a generous scoop of Fluffy Marshmallow filling onto the flat surface of a cooled whoopee. Top with another whoopee to make a sandwich and serve.

Fluffy Marshmallow Filling

Makes enough to fill about 9 large or 24 mini whoopie pies

3 egg whites

150g (5 oz/generous 1/2 cup) caster sugar

2 tablespoons (2 1/2 American tablespoons) golden syrup

pinch salt

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Weigh all the ingredients into a heatproof bowl (the stainless steel bowl of freestanding mixers is ideal) and place the bowl over a saucepan of boiling water. Whisk continuously by hand until the sugar as dissolved and the mixture is frothy and slightly opaque (about 10 – 15 minutes).

Remove from the heat and whip the mixture on high speed in a freestanding mixer until it is white and thick and holds its shape.

Use straight away.

Claire Ptak’s Lemon Cream Whoopie with Lemon Curd Cream

Lemon imparts a lovely fresh flavour to cakes and puddings. It’s worth seeking out good-quality lemons. The large knobbly ones grown on the Amalfi coast of Italy are exceptional as are the Californian Meyer lemons.

Filling suggestion: Lemon Curd Cream (see recipe)

300g (10oz/2 1/2 cups) plain flour

1/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

125g (4 1/2 oz) unsalted butter, softened

200g (7oz) caster sugar

1 large egg

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

100ml (3 1/2 fl oz/scant 1/2 cup) whole milk

50 ml (2fl oz/1/4 cup) lemon juice

zest of 2 medium lemons

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4.

Line 2 trays with baking paper.

In a bowl, sift together the flour, bicarbonate of soda and baking powder. Stir in the salt and set aside.

In a separate bowl, cream the softened butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, using an electric hand whisk or a freestanding mixer fitted with the flat beater. Add the egg and mix well. In a jug combine the vanilla, milk and lemon juice. Add this to the butter mixture and mix well. Add the dry ingredients, mixing until just incorporated. Finally, fold in the lemon zest. Chill for 30 minutes.

Drop 18 large or 48 small scoops of batter, about 5cm apart, onto the prepared baking trays. Bake in the middle of the oven for 10 – 12 minutes for large whoopies or 8 – 10 minutes for mini whoopies, until the cakes are left with a slight impression when touched with a finger.

Remove from the oven to a wire rack and cool completely.

To Assemble

Spread a generous scoop of Lemon Curd Cream on the flat surface of a cooled whoopie. Top with another whoopie to make a sandwich and serve.

Lemon Curd Cream

Makes enough to fill about 9 large or 24 mini whoopie pies.

100g (3 1/2 oz/scant 1/2 cup) caster sugar

pinch of salt

zest and juice of 2 medium lemons

2 egg yolks

125g (4 1/2 oz/generous 1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes

50ml (2fl oz/1/4 cup) double cream

Put the sugar, salt, lemon zest and juice and egg yolks in a medium sized, heatproof bowl. Place the bowl over a saucepan of barely simmering water and warm gently through, whisking constantly. Add the butter, a few cubes at a time, stirring constantly until all the butter is incorporated and the mixture is smooth and thick. Do not overheat or the eggs will scramble. Strain to remove the zest and any eggy bits. Cover wit Clingfilm, pressing it down on the surface of the custard. Leave to cool for 20 minutes, then chill for 2 hours before using.

The lemon curd will keep in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 3 weeks. When ready to use, whip the double cream and fold into the chilled custard.

Rose Pistachio Whoopie

The exotic flavours of delicate rose water, tender pistachios and sweet cherry liqueur might seem strange in a whoopie pie, but the evocation of the taste and texture of soft nougat is lovely here.

Filling suggestion: Kirsch Swiss Buttercream

Glaze suggestion: Rose Water Icing

Makes about 9 large or 24 mini whoopie pies

300g (10 oz/2½ cups) plain flour

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

½ tsp salt

125g (4½ oz) unsalted butter, softened

200g (7 oz) castor sugar

1 large egg

½ tsp rose water

200ml (7 fl oz/1/3 pint) buttermilk

100g (3½ oz) pistachios, finely chopped or ground, plus extra for sprinkling

100g (3½ oz) ground almonds

crushed candied rose petals, for garnishing

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4. Line 2 trays with baking paper.

In a bowl, sift together the flour and bicarbonate of soda. Stir in the salt and set aside. In a separate bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, using an electric hand whisk or a freestanding mixer fitted with the flat beater. Add the egg and mix well. Measure the rose water and buttermilk into a jug and then add half of this to the butter mixture. Slowly add the dry ingredients, mixing until just incorporated. Add the remaining buttermilk mixture until well combined and then fold in the ground nuts. Chill for 30 minutes.

Drop 18 large or 48 small scoops of batter, about 5cm apart, onto the prepared baking trays. Bake in the middle of the oven for 10–12 minutes for large whoopies or 8–10 minutes for mini whoopies, until the cakes are left with a slight impression when touched with a finger.

Remove from the oven to a wire rack and cool completely.

To assemble:

Pipe or spread a generous scoop of Kirsch Swiss Buttercream on the flat surface of a cooled whoopie. Top with another whoopie and drizzle with Rose Water Icing. Sprinkle with the remaining chopped pistachios and some crushed candied rose petals.

Kirsch Swiss Buttercream

Makes enough to fill about 9 large or 24 mini whoopie pies

225g (8 oz) unsalted butter, softened

3 large egg whites

100g (3½ oz) caster sugar

1 tbsp golden syrup

1 tbsp kirsch cherry liqueur

In a bowl, beat the butter until fluffy, using an electric hand whisk or a freestanding mixer fitted with the flat beater, set aside. In the metal bowl of a freestanding mixer, combine the 3 large egg whites with the sugar and golden syrup. Place over a saucepan of barely simmering water and whisk continuously by hand until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is frothy and slightly opaque (10–15 minutes).

Transfer the bowl of egg whites to the freestanding mixer, add the kirsch and whisk until fluffy and cooled (about 10 minutes). Once cool, start adding the creamed butter in batches, whisking well after each addition. The mixture will curdle but then come back together again. Switch to the flat beater and beat for 3 minutes more.

Use right away or store in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 5 days. Bring to room temperature and beat with a flat beater before using.

Rosewater Icing

Makes enough to cover about 9 large or 24 mini whoopie pies

200g (7 oz)  icing sugar

2 tsp rose water

Sift the icing sugar into a small bowl and then whisk in the rose water until smooth. If you prefer a thicker consistency spread on top of the whoopie, add slightly more icing sugar to adjust.

Oatmeal Cookie Whoopie

All the flavour of an oatmeal cookie but with a soft whoopie texture, this makes a great summer treat when sandwiched with vanilla ice cream and frozen, or you can fill with strawberry buttercream.

Filling suggestion: Good-quality vanilla ice cream or Strawberry Buttercream

Makes 24 bite-sized ice cream whoopie sandwiches

180g (6½ oz) plain flour

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1 tsp cinnamon

1/8 tsp salt

225g (8 oz) unsalted butter, softened

200g (7 oz) light brown sugar

2 large eggs

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

200g (7 oz) jumbo oats

75g (3 oz) sultanas (optional)

good-quality vanilla ice cream, for the filling

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4. Line 2 trays with baking paper.

In a bowl, sift together the flour, bicarbonate of soda and cinnamon. Stir in the salt and set aside.

In a separate bowl, cream together the butter and light brown sugar until light and fluffy, using an electric hand whisk or a freestanding mixer fitted with the flat beater. Add the eggs, one at a time, and then the vanilla, mixing well. Add the dry ingredients and mix until combined. Add the oats and sultanas and mix until incorporated. Chill for 30 minutes

Drop 48 small scoops of batter, about 5cm apart, onto the prepared trays. Bake in the middle of the oven for 8–10 minutes, until the cakes are left with a slight impression when touched with a finger.

Remove from the oven to a wire rack and cool completely.

To assemble:

Spread a generous scoop of slightly softened vanilla ice cream on the flat surface of a cooled whoopie. Top with another whoopie, gently press together and place in the freezer for at least 15 minutes.

Strawberry Buttercream

50 ml (2 fl oz) unstrained strawberry purée (about 80 g unhulled strawberries)

90 g (3¾ oz) soft butter

500-700 g (18 oz-1½ lb) icing sugar, sifted

½ tsp pure vanilla extract

½ tsp lemon juice

Rinse and hull the strawberries, then puree them in a food processor. In a bowl, cream together the butter and 300 g icing sugar with an electric hand whisk or on a low speed in a freestanding mixer fitted with the flat beater.  Gradually add the vanilla, lemon juice and strawberry puree.  Gradually mix in another 200 g icing sugar on a low speed for about 3 minutes, until the mixture has a light and fluffy texture and the sugar has dissolved.  Add more sugar if the mixture seems too soft (the amount needed varies according to the air temperature and acidity to the fruit). Use right away or store in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 7 days. Bring it to room temperature before using and beat on a low speed to make it creamy again.

Foolproof Food

Chocolate Buttercream Icing

8ozs (225g) soft butter

1 lb (450g) icing sugar, sieved

1 tablespoon coca powder, sieved

1 tablespoon hot water

Cream the butter and add the icing sugar.  Mix the cocoa powder and hot water together and beat into the mixture.  Use as a filling for biscuits or cake.

Hottips

Another good news story – O’ Connells restaurant is back! Tom O’ Connell has reopened his restaurant at 133-135 Morehampton Road, Donnybrook – formerly the famous Madigans pub. As the news spreads fans are flocking back to relive the taste of the simple artisan foods Tom features on his menu. This time Lorcan Cribbin formerly of Bang heads up the kitchen team and cooks fresh fish and dry aged Irish meats on the traditional Catalonian Chargrill now all the rage in London too. www.oconnellsdonnybrook.com 01 665 5940

Tara Bán Goat Cheddar – Terrific to meet enthusiastic young farmers keen to add value to their produce. Diarmaid Gryson from Tara in Co Meath recently won Young Innovator of the Year in the FBD Macra Na Feirme Awards and a Gold Medal in the Best New Cheese category judged by Juliet Harbutt at the British Cheese Awards in Cardiff. Tara Bán Goat Cheddar made from the milk herd of 140 goats. The family also supply delicious unhomogenised goat milk and are experimenting with ice cream and yoghurt. Telephone: 046 902 6817. They are available from local Farmers Markets and some Supervalu shops in Co Meath.

Don’t miss Cork Free Choice Consumer Group Next Meeting. Eoin O’Mahony, well known butcher of the English Market will demonstrate and discuss the traditional and lesser known cuts of lamb and beef at the Crawford Gallery Café, Emmet Place on Thursday November 25th at 7.30pm. Entrance €6.00 including tea and coffee.

Sushi made Simple – at the Ballymaloe Cookery School on Wednesday November 24th 2010. Shermin Mustafa will take the mystery out of sushi making.  She tells us which rice to buy, the secret of cooking it perfectly and then show us how to make 7 or 8 different types of sushi – a delicious healthy way to entertain which won’t break the bank. Booking Essential telephone 021 4646 785.

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