Friday, December 27, 2013

Books and Whoopie

Erica and I are also part of a book club with some of our friends from law school (and some fantastic non-lawyers!). We try to meet once a month as well, and when our friends are lucky and the recipe isn't too complicated, we do daring bakers at the same time as our discussion. Whoopie pies made the cut, which was particularly good given hectic Decembers.

(Fun(?) fact - I don't think Erica and I have completed a December challenge since this awesomeness).

Whoopie pies are fantastically easy to make. It's a quick chocolate dough scooped out and baked. Apparently you can buy fancy molds to make your whoopie uniform and "cookie-cutter" so to speak, but who wants that? We opted for a more rustic creation:

Next came the filling. We contemplated the traditional marshmallow filling, but given that the the benevolent overlords at Whole Foods believe that marshmallow creme is from the artificial, GMO, too-much-sugar devils, we went with the vanilla recipe. We enjoyed the "cooling" process - using some edamame to bring it down to the right temperature.

Assembly was a breeze, which was great so we could continue our discussion of Eleanor and Park (a fantastic and sweet young adult novel - perfect for spending a day on the couch with a cup of tea). We had lots of extra filling, which was taken away by a book club member to make a cake -- Rachel, how did it turn out?

Word to the wise -- if you have any leftovers, these are divine straight from the freezer. Will and I traveled to Florida shortly after we made these, and they made for an excellent 10 pm treat when we got back from the airport.

Finally, given that it's the end of the year, I took a look through the archives to see what we did over the year. Award for best tasting: Chocolate Beet Cake (February). Award for prettiest (possibly ever): Prinsesstarta (March). Biggest fail (this one was easy): Sfogliatelle (November). Anyone else want to share their best or worst?

The December Daring Bakers' Challenge had us all cheering - the lovely and talented Bourbonnatrix of Bourbonnatrix Bakes was our hostess and challenged us to make fun, delicious and creative whoopie pies! Delicious little cake-like cookies sandwiching luscious filling in any flavors we chose... What else is there to say but "Whoopie!"

Servings: 8 large or 16 small whoopie pies

For the Whoopie Pies
1/2 cup (120 ml) (4 oz) (115 gm) butter
1 cup (240 ml) (7 oz) (200 gm) brown sugar, firmly packed
1 teaspoon (5 ml) (5 gm) espresso coffee powder, optional
1 teaspoon (5 ml) (5 gm) baking powder
1/2 teaspoon (3 gm) baking soda
3/4 teaspoon (4½ gm) salt
1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla extract
1 large egg
1/2 cup (120 ml) (1½ oz) (45 gm) Dutch-process cocoa, sifted
2 1/3 cups (560 ml) (10 oz) (285 gm) unbleached all-purpose (plain) flour
1 cup (240 ml) milk

1) Preheat oven to moderate 350°F/180°C/gas mark 4. Lightly grease (or line with parchment) two baking sheets.
2) In a large mixing bowl, beat together the butter, brown sugar, espresso coffee powder (if using), baking powder, baking soda, salt, and vanilla till smooth. Add the egg, again beating till smooth.
3) Add the cocoa, stirring to combine.
4) Add the flour to the batter alternately with the milk, beating till smooth. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl, and beat again briefly to soften and combine any chunky scrapings.
5) Drop the dough by the 1/4-cupful (60 ml) onto the prepared baking sheets, leaving plenty of room between the cakes; they'll spread. A muffin scoop works well here.
6) Bake the cakes in a preheated moderate oven for 15 to 16 minutes, till they're set and firm to the touch. Remove them from the oven, and cool on the pans. While still lukewarm, use a spatula to separate them from the pan or parchment; then allow to cool completely.

Servings: way more than you actually need to fill the whoopies

1 cup (240 ml) (8 oz) (225 gm) granulated sugar
1/4 cup (60 ml) (1 oz) (30 gm) all-purpose (plain) flour
1 cup (240 ml) whole milk
1/4 cup (60 ml) heavy cream (about 35%)
1 cup (2 sticks) (8 oz) (225 gm) unsalted butter, cool but not cold, cut into ½-inch (15 mm) cubes
1 teaspoon (5 ml) pure vanilla extract
In a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan, whisk the sugar and flour together. Add the milk and cream and cook over medium heat, whisking occasionally, until the mixture comes to a boil and has thickened, 10 to 15 minutes.

Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on high speed until cool, at least 7 minutes. (You can speed up the process by pressing bags of frozen berries or frozen corn against the sides and bottom of the mixing bowl.) Reduce the speed to low and add the butter; mix until thoroughly incorporated. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until the frosting is light and fluffy. You can’t overbeat this mixture. Just let it go until it’s nice and smooth.

Add the vanilla and continue mixing until combined. If the frosting is too soft, put the bowl in the refrigerator to chill slightly, then beat again until it is the proper consistency. If the frosting is too firm, set the bowl over a pot of simmering water and beat with a wooden spoon until it is the proper consistency.


zazacook said...

Your cake part is so rich with chocolate flavor and moist... With Old Fashion Vanilla Filling, it's just delicious!

Bourbonnatrix said...

I'm glad you liked the challenge! I love the idea of combining a book club and a baking club!