whoopie pies

I’d heard of whoopie pies before the other day but never knew what they were. They look kinda like UFOs or maybe gigantic Oreos, (which, by the way, I hadn’t encountered before the age of 13 or so and don’t actually like. Please don’t hurt me, it’s just the way it is. I don’t like Oreos, I don’t like bananas, I don’t like orange and chocolate together [most of the time…])

I’m weird. It’s been proven over and over.

So anyway, I saw this book, the Whoopie Pie Book. Claire Ptak, who owns Violet Bakery in London at which she serves whoopie pies, (and who apparently is Jamie Oliver’s favourite baker) has written this book solely about whoopie pies.

The traditional whoopie pies are like chocolate muffin tops sandwiching liquid marshmallows. This idea has expanded over the years to incorporate many different flavours and fillings, glazes, drizzling, fruit, caramel, cream, vegetables even.

Like carrots. And pumpkin.

So I had a rare day off (both work AND uni.. woohoo!) so I brought some cool people over to my house to bake. And we made whoopie pies.

I think our first ones were much too big. See, I have this muffin top pan and it’s really cool. And I figured, since whoopie pies were basically two muffin tops with stuff in between, I’d use the muffin top pan.

WAY. TOO. BIG. I shared one of the massive whoopies with someone and we couldn’t finish it on our own.

So we made smaller ones. Carrot and chocolate. They’re pretty darn good if I may say so myself.

And perfect for a baking expedition.

Chocolate Whoopie Pies with Marshmallow insides

Adapted from The Whoopie Pie Book

Now, these whoopies I felt were lacking slightly in flavour. If I were you, I’d see if I could substitute my favourite chocolate muffin recipe and just bake them like cookies.

175g plain flour

100g cocoa powder

1 1/2 tsp bi carb soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

125g unsalted butter, softened

200g sugar

1 large egg

225ml buttermilk

1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste, or 1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 180°. Line two trays with baking paper

Sift together first five ingredients in a bowl and set aside.

Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Beat in egg well. Add buttermilk and vanilla and beat until well combined.  Add in dry ingredients in two batches, mixing just until incorporated.

Spoon tablespoons of mixture onto the baking paper if you want about ten centimetre large whoopies (these are plenty big enough) or teaspoonfuls if you want minis. Make sure you have an even amount of mounds on your baking tray, as you’ll be sandwiching these together.

Bake about 12 minutes for large whoopies or 10 minutes for small. Keep checking them, just in case. Let cool completely before filling with marshmallow fluff.

Apparently there’s a jarred version of this in America. This tastes so good, though, you should make it yourself.

3 egg whites

150g caster sugar

2 tbsp golden syrup

Pinch salt

1 tsp vanilla extract or ½ tsp vanilla bean paste

Place all ingredients into a heatproof (stainless steel or Pyrex or ceramic) and put it over a saucepan of boiling water. Whisk continuously by hand until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is frothy. Remove from heat and whip on high speed with an electric hand mixer until it’s white and thick. Use straight away.

Pipe or use a tablespoon to put generous scoops of the marshmallow fluff onto half the chocolate muffin tops. Top with another chocolate disk. Don’t gorge yourself otherwise you might be sick.

Carrot Whoopies with Cream Cheese insides

Adapted from The Whoopie Pie Book

250g plain flour

1 tsp bi carb soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground ginger

1/4 tsp salt

125g unsalted butter, softened

100g caster sugar

100g brown sugar

1 large egg

1 tsp vanilla extract or 1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste

2 carrots, peeled and grated

zest of 1 orange, optional (only because we forgot and it didn’t mean they tasted any less wonderful. I encourage you to try it, though, it’s probably awesome)

Preheat oven to 180ºC. Line two trays with baking paper.

Sift first six ingredients together. Set aside.

Cream the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla and beat well. Mix in carrot and orange zest, if you’re using it. Add dry ingredients, mixing just until incorporated.

Scoop out tablespoons of mixture or teaspoons if you’d like smaller whoopies. Make sure you’ve got an even amount of mounds of mixture and bake about 12 minutes for large whoopies and 10 minutes for small. Cool completely on a wire rack before filling with cream cheese filling.

300g icing sugar

55g softened unsalted butter

115g softened cream cheese

1/2 tsp vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste

1 tsp maple syrup, optional

Whip butter until creamy, then whip in cream cheese, scraping down the sides of the bowl. Add sifted icing sugar gradually and beat until light and fluffy. This is where you’d add the maple syrup and vanilla, except I didn’t. I would, however, next time add more cream cheese, less icing sugar and a dash of lemon juice. Just to put it out there.

Scoop onto half the whoopies, top with the rest, and share with your mum for Mother’s Day.

a word on words

So I hate to be blasting you with links to click on and no return on my part so at the end of this post is indeed a recipe for you to make and share, especially, if you can, with poets; they like their sweets. Or maybe that’s just me.

Anyway.

Before we get to the double chocolate mud cupcakes (easy to share; easy to transport; don’t need icing; easy ish to make; perfect birthday cupcakes) we’re talking about poetry.

Poetry, rather like tea, soothes the soul and calms the spirits. Poetry is the words when there are no words to describe what goes on in the heart and in the soul. Poetry writes the words that won’t come, poetry tells us that we are not alone. Poetry is the lyrics to the song of life. Poetry is the imagination of the world written out upon the pages of our collective journal, the words spoken into the darkness when no one will hear, the cry of one in the wilderness, the emphasis of the swear words when they aren’t strong enough.

Poetry lifts you up when you’re high enough to be lifted and sits with you in the deep dark places when you aren’t. It sings your delights and wails your sorrows.

Poetry touches us. Poetry holds our hearts with gentle hands, lets us rest in its soft loving arms.

Poetry challenges us. Poetry reaches in and touches our hearts and says, you can feel this. Don’t pretend you can’t. Do something about it instead.

Poetry is hope. And ‘Hope is the thing with feathers/That perches in the soul,/And sings the tune–without the words, /And never stops at all’ *

Poetry can be written, and it is beautiful when written – the Norton Anthology of Poetry is a good place to start. (page 1340).

Poetry can be read but poetry can also be spoken. Spoken Word poetry is one of the most spine tingling experiences you can be a part of.

The Centre for Poetics and Justice is ‘dedicated to the integration of poetics and social transformation.’ There are many different poetry events around Melbourne; try Overload Poetry, the Wheeler Centre, Footscray Community Arts Centre, Poetiq, or tune in to Channel 31 on Wednesdays at 11pm for Red Lobster.

And now for the cupcakes.

Everything I said earlier was true.

These are beautifully dense and chocolaty, while managing not to be overly heavy. They don’t need icing, they travel well, they are great to share – if they get past your own kitchen.

They are fantastic for birthday cupcakes, as well, as we demonstrated tonight.

Double Chocolate Mud Cupcakes

Adapted from Cupcakes from the Australian Women’s Weekly kitchen

I couldn’t find the actual book on Amazon that I got the recipe from, but this one seems quite close.

60g dark eating chocolate, chopped

160ml water

90g softened butter

1 cup firmly brown sugar

2 eggs

1/2 cup self raising flour

2 tablespoons cocoa powder

1/3 cup almond or hazelnut meal

Preheat oven to 170ºC. Line a 12 hole cupcake pan with paper cases.

Melt chocolate with the water in a small saucepan and stir until smooth. Set aside to cool.

Cream butter and sugar until fluffy; add eggs one at a time. Sift in flour and nut meal; fold in gently and add chocolate. Stir until just incorporated.

Fill cases until about they are about 3/4 of the way full. You should be able to divide the mixture evenly among the 12.

Bake about 25 minutes. They should be lightly springy to the touch; don’t let them overbake otherwise they’ll be dry and crackly on the top. Let them rest five minutes before turning them out to cool on a wire rack.

*Hope, by Emily Dickinson

so, about those cookies

“I don’t know what those are but they sound AWESOME!”

Chocolate Malted Whopper Drops. Choc Malt Chunky Cookies. Malto-Chocco Biscuits. Chocolate Malt Marvelousness. I could go on, but you’re probably just wondering why I’m telling you all this when I could be giving you the recipe.

Because it’s an awesome story, that’s why! So I was hanging around the shopping centre waiting to meet up with two of my friends for a baking session slash “teach me how to bake!” afternoon, when all of a sudden, I see another friend. In fact, we pass each other on the escalators. I’m going down and he’s going up and because there’s too many people on the escalators we have to travel all the way on our designated routes before he turns around and comes down to my level. We start talking and then my friend comes along, the one I’m going to bake with, and we chat and chat and it’s all pretty awesome. Fast forward and there’s four of us now, we’re getting ingredients for these biscuits of amazingness, and I told them all my plan for what it is exactly we are going to bake, and hence, my friend bursts out with the line that started all of this babble on.

So it was a bit difficult. We doubled the recipe but only had half the amount of eggs we needed. We missed out on a bunch of chocolate we could have included and, (and this part’s important) do you know how hard it is to get fair trade malted chocolate powder? It’s really, really hard. It’s in fact, terrible. We ended up using Ovaltine, because it was sort of ok. The chocolate part was fine because it meant we got to eat the rest of it (yay for eating massive amounts of chocolate). One problem was that they fell apart very easily but I feel that one extra egg would solve that tiny problem.

So I re-made these cookies following Dorie’s recipe to the T… and it wasn’t anywhere near as good. I’m sorry, Dorie, and all you out there who love her but the mishmash of friends and chocolate and suits just made it all better.

So, here it is. Weeks late, under the strangest of circumstances, but worth it. These cookies will soothe your soul, especially when consumed warm with a glass of cold milk in the company of friends.

Chocolate Malted Whopper Drops

Adapted from Baking: from my home to yours by Dorie Greenspan

3 1/2 cups plain flour

2 cups Ovaltine (malted milk powder of any kind is fine, but our best results were with Ovaltine.)

1/2 cup cocoa

3 tsp baking powder

375gm butter, half melted

1 1/4 cups sugar

3 large eggs

2 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 cup milk

3 cups chocolate covered malted milk balls (maltesers), roughly chopped

200g milk chocolate, roughly chopped

150g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids), roughly chopped

Position oven racks to divide the oven into thirds. Preheat oven to 180ºC and line several trays with baking paper.

Beat the Butter and sugar together in a stand mixer (if possible – a hand mixer works fine) on medium speed until light and fluffy, about two minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for about a minute after each addition. Beat in the vanilla and reduce the speed to low. Sift in half the dry ingredients and beat until just incorporated; mix in milk and then the rest of the dry ingredients, again only until just incorporated. Mix in the Maltesers and chopped chocolate by hand with a spatula or wooden spoon.

Drop tablespoons of the mixture on the prepared baking trays, about two inches of space in between each cookie. Bake 10-15 minutes, rotating halfway. When you take them out, try to wait a couple of minutes before putting them on a cooling rack with an egg flip. They’ll be hot and they’ll probably fall apart.

These are fantastic with vanilla ice cream.

chocolate cookies and a guest post

So the other day, the maniversary of two of my friends and the first anniversary of the beginning of the best year of my life to date, I was making cookies with three good friends. I love to bake (no duh) and they like to eat, and they wanted to learn how to bake so they could eat their own confections. So I brought over Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From my home to yours and we made chocolate malted whopper drops. I’d give you the recipe but I’m not quite ready to relinquish it yet (we had to do with less eggs and other things, so I’m going to make them again so I can tweak them to my heart’s content.) Meanwhile, these are B’s thoughts on the matter:

Sweet Ixcacao! I just started eating those cookies. And I ate too many and I am going to die. I am literally going to die! I am super legitamately going to experience death by chocolate. My heart just went into cardiovascular shock on account of how delicious these cookies are and my body is literally being consumed and falling into a warm deadly chocolately coma. When I wake up my gun will be rusted, my wife will be dead and I will a footlong beard. That’s assuming I do wake up and don’t choose to merely spend eternity in a sweet sweet chocolate limbo wonderland free of my bodily limitations where I can consume thine dark lips of the goddess that lives inside these cookies and never feel pain nor hardship nor guilt ever again.

Maybe I don’t need to tweak them at all.