Whoopie Pies are total nostalgia, aren’t they? Just the name evokes thoughts of the 50’s and someones mother in the kitchen in her starched apron,hair perfectly arranged, a perfect little dress with little red bows down the front and matching red heels. Really who cooks like that anymore? And did anyone ever? I think it was just smoke and mirrors by the ad companies. Anyway, Whoopie Pies are making a slow but steady comeback-popping up all over the country ranging from basic chocolate or pumpkin to crazy gourmet versions. Where did these little delectable cakes come from? According to the New York Times “food historians believe whoopie pies originated in Pennsylvania, where they were baked by Amish women and put in farmers’ lunchboxes. Tired from a morning’s work, the farmers purportedly would shout “Whoopie!” if they discovered one of the desserts in their lunch pails” After making this Red Velvet version I would yell Whoopie if I found one in my lunch pail!
Red Velvet Whoopie Pies
Yield:10-12 large or 15-17 small pies
For the Whoopie Pies
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3 tablespoons dark unsweetened cocoa powder ( like Valrhona)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk
1/2 cup butter (1 stick), softened, cut into pieces
1 tablespoon vegetable shortening, at room temperature
3/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon red gel food coloring
For the Cream Cheese Filling
3 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
8 ounces cram cheese, softened
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
For the Assembly
1/2 cup toasted walnuts,chopped coarsely
Make the Pies
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, sift together the flour,cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
In a small bowl, whisk together the canola oil and buttermilk.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and shortening until smooth. Scrape down the bowl and add the sugars. Beat until the mixture is light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla extract and beat until combined. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl, add the red gel food coloring, then mix on low speed for a few more seconds to incorporate. Do not over mix.
Turn the mixer to low. Add the flour mixture, alternating with the buttermilk mixture, in three separate additions, beginning and ending with the flour mixture until just combined. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl , then mix on low speed for a few more seconds.
Cover with plastic wrap and chill the batter in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes.
Remove the batter from the refrigerator. Us a a small ice cream scoop with a release mechanism to drop heaping tablespoons of the dough onto the prepared baking sheets about 1 inch apart. Bake for 10-20 minutes, until the cookies are just starting to crack on top and a toothpick inserted into the center of a cookie comes out clean. Let the cookies cool completely on the pan while you make the filling.
Make the Cream Cheese Filling
Sift the confectioners’ sugar into a medium bowl and set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter until it is completely smooth. Add the cream cheese and beat until combined.
Add the confectioner’s sugar, vanilla, and salt and beat until smooth. Be careful not to over beat the filling or it will lose structure. (The filling can be made 1 day ahead. Cover the bowl tightly and put it in the refrigerator. Let the filling soften at room temperature before using.)
Assemble the Whoopie Pies
Spread the walnuts in an even layer on a small plate.
Turn half of the cooled cookies upside down (flat side facing up)
Use an ice cream scoop or a tablespoon to drop a large dollop of filling onto the flat side of the cookie. Place another cookie, flat side down, on top of the filling. Press down slightly so that the filling spreads to the edges of the cookie. Turn the whoopie on its side and roll through the walnuts. Repeat until all the cookies are used. Put the whoopie pies in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes to firm up before serving.
The whoopie pies will keep for up to 3 days on a parchment lined baking sheet covered with plastic wrap, in the refrigerator.
Baked Notes: Be true to the South, do not substitute other nuts for the walnuts-a true Southern Red Velvet cake is always finished with walnuts.
Excerpted from Baked Explorations: Classic American Desserts Reinvented by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito. Copyright © 2010 by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito. Excerpted by permission of Stewart, Tabori & Chang, an imprint of Abrams. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.