Don’t be fooled by these innocent looking treats. They’re actually quite controversial.
Maine, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire and Massachusetts all claim to have invented the infamous whoopie pie, citing a bakery, market or cookbook where the first version of these cake-cookie hybrids originated. Conveniently, in every case it seems that the alleged bakery closed years ago, the markets died off and the cookbooks were lost in a fire. Others argue that the recipe’s roots can be traced to Germany and were brought over by the Amish. It’s a dessert with a past shrouded in mystery (which is pretty dramatic for a baked good with the word whoopie in its name).
I vote for less time spent arguing and more spent enjoying these tasty morsels: Two soft cake “cookies” with a rich, delicious filling sandwiched between them. Think of it as an upgraded cupcake with the perfect ratio of cake to frosting in each and every bite.
Chocolate Peanut Butter Whoopie Pies
This version replaces the traditional marshmallow frosting with a creamy peanut butter filling. To get the best texture and flavour, use natural peanut butter.
1 ¾ cups (280 grams) all-purpose flour
2/3 cup (60 grams) cocoa powder
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup (205 grams) packed brown sugar
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup milk
Peanut Butter Filling
¾ cup + 2 tablespoons (210 grams) natural peanut butter
½ cup + 1 tablespoon (130 grams) unsalted butter at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup + 2 tablespoons (130 grams) icing sugar
Preheat oven to 375 F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
In the bowl of your mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Scrape down the bowl, then add the egg and vanilla. Beat on medium high until well combined. Scrape down the bowl again.
Add 1/3 of the flour mixture and stir on low until mostly combined. Add half of the milk and stir until just combined. Repeat with another 1/3 of the flour mixture and the rest of the milk. Add the remaining flour and mix on low until just combined.
Fill a plastic freezer bag with some of the batter, seal it, and snip off a corner to make a 1-inch hole. Squeeze the bag to make 2-inch wide dollops of cake batter a couple of inches apart onto the cookie sheet. The cakes will spread while baking. If your parchment paper is moving around too much, you can secure it to the tray with a smear of the cake batter on each corner.
Place the tray in the preheated oven and bake for six to nine minutes (time will depend on the size of the cakes). To get an idea of how long the cakes will take in your oven, you can bake a tray with just one or two cake dollops and see what amount of time works best. Remove baked cakes to a wire rack to cool completely.
To make the icing, cream together the peanut butter and butter with the mixer on medium-high speed. Add the vanilla and salt, and mix on high until completely combined.
Add half of the icing sugar and stir on low until the sugar has combined. Then turn the speed up to medium-high and whip the icing until fluffy. Repeat with the rest of the sugar.
To pipe the peanut-butter filling, fill a plastic freezer bag with the icing, seal it, snip off a corner to make a ½- inch hole and squeeze the icing onto half of the cakes. Top with another cake and serve.
The whoopie pies will keep at room temperature in an airtight container for three days.
Stephanie Eddy, who writes about her baking exploits at clockworklemon.com, lives in Okotoks, Alta