Baking Whoopie

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. And that means there will be a lot of sweets being passed around to sweethearts, and some of them will be homemade.

How’s this for an idea with that in mind? Whoopie pies.

Jill Wendholt Silva of McClatchy Newspapers put forth that idea in a story that recently caught my attention. She said that whoopie pies are an all-American baked good that looks like a puffed-up sandwich cookie but tastes more like a cupcake. Think cake with frosting that doesn’t get all over everything.

She added that the pies trace their origins from both Pennsylvania, where they are sometimes called “gobs,” and Maine, where thousands attend an annual whoopie pie festival.

Here are a three recipes that might be appropriate for your sweetie. They are from “Whoopie Pies” (Chronicle Books) by Sarah Billingsley and Amy Treadwell.

Red Velvet Whoopie Pies
2½ cups all-purpose flour
¼ cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup (1 stick) butter
½ cup vegetable shortening
½ cup packed brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
½ ounce (1 small bottle) red food coloring
1 cup buttermilk
CREAM CHEESE FILLING:
4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
3½ cups (1 16-ounce box) confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt onto a sheet of waxed paper.
In the work bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat together the butter, shortening and both sugars on low speed until just combined. Increase the speed to medium and beat until fluffy and smooth, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla and red food coloring and beat just until blended.

Add half the flour mixture and half of the buttermilk to the batter and beat on low until just incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the remaining flour mixture and ½ cup buttermilk and beat until completely combined.
Using a spoon, fill whoopie pie pan two-thirds full with batter and bake, then cool according to directions. Or drop about 1 tablespoon of batter onto one of the prepared sheets and repeat, spacing them at least 2 inches apart. Bake one sheet at a time for about 10 minutes each, or until the cakes spring back when pressed gently. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and let cakes cool on the sheet for about 5 minutes before transferring them to a rack to cool completely.
For the filling: In the work bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the cream cheese and butter on medium speed. Add the sugar and beat on low speed until combined. Add the vanilla and increase the speed to medium; beat until creamy and smooth, about 4 minutes.
To assemble: Spread filling with a knife and sandwich two cakes together, like a sandwich cookie.
Yield: 12 pies (24 halves).
Approximate nutritional analysis per half pie: 279 calories, 40 percent of calories from fat, 13 grams fat (7 grams saturated), 39 milligrams cholesterol, 40 grams carbohydrates, 3 grams protein, 136 milligrams sodium, 1 gram dietary fiber.

Classic Chocolate Whoopie Pies
1 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1½ teaspoons baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 tablespoons vegetable shortening
1 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup milk
CLASSIC BUTTERCREAM FILLING:
3 cups confectioners’ sugar
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
3 to 4 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
Food coloring (optional)
Decorating sprinkles (optional)
Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt onto a sheet of waxed paper. In the work bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter, shortening and brown sugar on low speed until just combined. Increase the speed to medium and beat until fluffy and smooth, about 3 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla and beat for another 2 minutes.
Add half of the flour mixture and half of the milk to the batter and beat on low until just incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the remaining flour mixture and ½ cup milk and beat until completely combined.
Using a spoon, drop about 1 tablespoon of batter onto one of the prepared baking sheets and repeat, spacing them at least 2 inches apart. Bake one sheet at a time for about 10 minutes each, or until the pies spring back when pressed gently.
Remove from oven and let the cakes cool on sheet for about 5 minutes before transferring them to a rack to cool completely.
For the filling: In the work bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the confectioners’ sugar with the butter, starting on low and increasing with medium speed, until the mixture is crumbly, about 1 minute. Add the heavy cream, vanilla and salt and beat on high speed until smooth, about 3 minutes.
To tint buttercream: Add a few drops of red and stir until you get the shade of pink you desire. Roll pie in sprinkles, if desired.
To assemble: Spread filling with a knife and sandwich two cakes together, like a sandwich cookie.
Yield: 12 pies (24 halves).
Approximate nutritional analysis per half pie: 215 calories, 38 percent of calories from fat, 9 grams total fat (5 grams saturated), 27 milligrams cholesterol, 32 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams protein, 94 milligrams sodium, 1 gram dietary fiber.

Lemon Whoopie Pies
2¼ cups all-purpose flour
1½ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 tablespoons vegetable shortening
½ cup (packed) brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
½ cup buttermilk
Grated zest of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lemon juice
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
COCONUT CREAM FILLING:
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1¾ cups confectioners’ sugar
3 tablespoons sweetened shredded coconut
2 tablespoons unsweetened shredded coconut
3 tablespoons coconut milk
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
Sweetened shredded coconut, optional garnish
Zest of 1 lemon, optional garnish
Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt onto a sheet of waxed paper.
In the work bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter, shortening and both sugars until light and creamy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs and the buttermilk and beat until combined.
Add the lemon zest, lemon juice and vanilla and beat on medium for about 2 minutes, until completely combined.
Using a spoon, fill whoopie pie pans two-thirds full and bake according to recipe directions, or drop about 1 tablespoon of batter onto one of two baking sheets lined with parchment paper, spacing them at least 2 inches apart. Bake one sheet at a time for about 12 minutes each or until the cakes begin to brown. Remove from the oven and let the cakes cool on the sheet for at least 5 minutes before transferring to a rack to cool completely.
For the filling: In a work bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter and sugar on low speed until combined. Add the coconuts, coconut milk and vanilla and beat on low until smooth, about 5 minutes.
To assemble: Spread filling with a knife and sandwich two cakes together, like a sandwich cookie.
Yield: 12 pies (24 halves).
Approximate nutritional analysis per half pie: 176 calories (38 percent from fat), 8 grams total fat (4 grams saturated), 28 milligrams cholesterol, 27 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams protein, 96 milligrams sodium, 1 gram dietary fiber.

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