Makin’ Whoopie

Sweet, fluffy, leaves a film on the roof of your mouth, marshmallow filling, sandwiched between two layers of soft, pillowy chocolate cake, equals love.  Like the kind of love that makes you eat this confection with unashamed abandon, knowing that the marshmallow filling will squeeze out the sides and will most likely get all over your face.  The kind of love that makes you feel okay about acting like a kid again.  The kind of love that may compel you to yell without reservation…“Whoopie!”

This year for Christmas my ever so thoughtful dad bought me a whoopie pie pan.  It looks a little something like this:

I’m trying to decide one of two things,

  • He thinks I would be super interested in a new delight to try, knowing I’ve never made them before.
  • Or his intention was slightly selfish in the sense that he thinks I may make some and send them his way.

Maybe it’s both. 🙂  Either way, I’ve been really intrigued with these little cookie/cake concoctions for some time now, so I was more than thrilled!

The history of the whoopie pie is a bit muddled, and the more I read about it, the more mysterious it got.  Three different areas claim the sweet treat as their own, all holding somewhat convincing stories.

Pennsylvania’s Tale–their story claims that Amish women used to pack these in their children’s lunch pails and when they would open up their lunches and see them they would scream out “Whoopie!” in delight.  Truth or not, it seems that whoopie pies are widely known in this state and found at most restaurants, roadside stands, and convenient stores.

Maine’s Account–they claim that a commercial bakery in Bangor had extra batter after making some cakes and instead of wasting it, placed mounds of it on a cookie sheet, baked them, and stuck them together with some leftover frosting.  This bakery is still in business and touts their whoopie pies as being sold since 1925, but all of their records were burned in a bakery fire in the 60s, so there’s no proof of this.  Likely story.

Boston wants in on this–this clever town decided to hold to two stories crediting themselves with the invention of whoopie pies.  You know, just in case you didn’t buy one of them, it didn’t take them out of the running.  The first is that the company, Durkee-Mower Inc. invented them to increase the sales of their product, Marshmallow Fluff, which is a key ingredient in the filling of the whoopie pie.  The second story revolves around Berwick Cake Company.  People that have been around Boston for a long time claim they remember eating whoopie pies from this bakery, although the bakery itself does not claim this.  However…the name of the bakery that was painted years ago onto the side of the building still remains and some people say there used to be another sign that read, “Whoopee!” Pies.

Does it matter where they originated?  Not really.  One thing I do know, is that us west coasters are missing out.  Why these haven’t  gained favor over here is as much of a mystery to me as where they began.  Since those of us here on the west coast don’t share the same irrational love for these pies, I’m bound and determined to find a way to attend the 2011 Whoopie Pie Festival in Lancaster, PA.  A whoopie pie race and a whoopie pie long launch? Whoop! Whoop!

Classic Chocolate Whoopie*

(Recipe courtesy “Whoopie Pies” by Sarah Billingsley and Amy Treadwell)

Makes about 48 two-inch cakes

Note: This recipe can be used if you DON’T have a whoopie pie pan.  If you do have one, simply change the amount of batter placed in the whoopie pie well to 1 1/2 Tbsp instead of only 1 Tbsp.

1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour

2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

4 Tbsp unsalted butter, room temp

4 Tbsp vegetable shortening

1 cup (packed) dark brown sugar

1 large egg

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup milk

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. 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.
  3. 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 1/2 cup milk and beat until completely combined.
  4. Using a spoon, drop about 1 Tbsp of batter onto one of the prepared baking sheets and repeat, spacing them at least 2 inches aprt.  Bake one sheet at a time for about 10 minutes each, or until the pies spring back when pressed gently.  Remove from the oven and let the cakes cool on the sheet for about 5 minutes before transferring them to a rack to cool completely.

Classic Marshmallow Filling*

(Recipe courtesy “Whoopie Pies” by Sarah Billingsley and Amy Treadwell)

1 1/2 cups Marshmallow Fluff (or other prepared marshmallow cream)

1 1/4 cups vegetable shortening

1 cup powdered sugar

1 Tbsp vanilla extract

In the work bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat together the Marshmallow Fluff and the vegetable shortening, starting on low and increasing to medium speed until the mixture is smooth and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Reduce mixer speed to low, add the powdered sugar and the vanilla, and beat until incorporated.  Increase mixer speed to medium and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes more.

*Don’t shy away from using the vegetable shortening in either of these recipes.  In the whoopie, it’s what gives it the fluffiness that it has.  And really, who wants flat whoopie?  Just be okay with the fact that they aren’t good for you…but are oh so good.


6 thoughts on “Makin’ Whoopie

  1. bryan a says:

    having lived in Massachusetts for 22 years and then in lancaster county, PA for another 12, I’m torn. I’m guessing it was the Amish.

    Speaking of which, that Whoopie Pie Festival is about 12 minutes from my house. I had no idea.

  2. Jon says:

    Okay, that looks so good! Kinda reminds me of the Double Doozies at the Great American Cookie Company. But better I’m sure.

    But seriously, your dad gave you a Whoopie pan? Were you a little creeped out?

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