Whoopie pie. I think the name alone has the power to coax feelings of glee from even the toughest old birds. In fact, when I announced to my friends that I intended to make them, the mmmmm’s and ooooooh’s far preceded the ‘what is it?’s.
My childhood memory of this gleefully-named treat is of eager anticipation and zealous consumption. Oversized cakey chocolate cookies with an oozing marshmallow-y filling would stickify my hands, face, and whatever surfaces got between me and my enthusiasm for the whoopie-filled treat. I can still see my mother crouched in front of the hot oven, mitts donned, and nose centimeters from the steamy window to watch the rising mounds of chocolaty batter (yes, it is from my mom that I inherited my squat-and-stare approach to oven use).
The chocolate part of a whoopie pie thicker than cake, but lighter than cookie. Traditionally, where I come from anyway, they are filled with a billowing mound of marshmallow frosting. Many recipes include Fluff, but I prefer a 7-minute frosting. In my version, rich chocolaty cookies sandwich a pile of creamy, caramel frosting.
The filling is based on a simple buttercream recipe, with egg whites that are whisked with sugar over a bath of simmering water then transferred to a standing mixer, and whipped into a fluffy mountain of meringue. It is then beaten with soft butter, salt, vanilla and caramel sauce - which is simply sugar melted into a rich amber, with an added splash of cream.
Whoopie Pies with Salted Caramel Buttercream
The fluffy, caramel provides buttery relief from the dense, chocolaty crumb of the cookie - the kind that packs to the back of your palate and begs for a glass of milk.
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Salted Caramel Buttercream (below)
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease two large cookie sheets, or line with parchment paper.
2. Whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt.
3. In the bowl of a standing mixer, cream the butter and sugars together, 2-3 minutes. Add the egg and continue beating until fluffy, 1-2 minutes longer. Beat in milk and vanilla extract. Finally, beat in flour mixture to combine.
4. Drop by heaping tablespoons onto prepared cookie sheets (you should get 12-14 cookies).
5. Bake for 10-14 minutes, until top springs back when touched.
6. Cool completely. Spoon a heaping tablespoon of frosting on the flat half of one cookie, then top with another cookie. Repeat.
Salted Caramel Buttercream
1/2 cup sugar, divided
2 tbsp water
2 tbsp + 2 tsp (40 mL) cream
2 egg whites
pinch of salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1. Put 1/4 cup of sugar and water in saucepan over medium-high heat. Do not stir of you will get sugar crystals, but you can swirl the saucepan gently. It will bubble itself into a deep amber. Remove immediately from heat and add cream (careful - it will bubble up furiously). Stir until smooth and set aside.
2. Put the egg whites, salt, and 1/4 cup sugar in a heatproof bowl over a pot of simmering water. Whisk until sugar dissolves and mixture reaches 140 degrees. Transfer to bowl of standing mixer.
3. Beat on high until stiff peaks form. Add butter a bit at a time, and continue beating on medium. Reduce speed to low, add vanilla extract, and then caramel (you may need to gently rewarm the caramel in the microwave for 10 seconds at a time until it is workable but not burning hot). Beat for 4-5 minutes.