Friday, September 7, 2012

Chocolate Whoopie Pies

I had my first whoopie pie at an extended family gathering in rural Pennsylvania.  I can't tell you why a whoopie pie is called a whoopie pie (it's more like a mix between a cake and a cookie) and I can't tell you where whoopie pies come from (apparently Pennsylvania, Maine, and New Hampshire all claim to be the original creators of this dessert); all I can tell you is that whoopie pies are big, sweet, delicious desserts.

Whoopie!  It's so big and sweet and good!  (And yes, it's blurry. And a little uneven.)
Recipe:     
Chocolate Whoopie Pies

Chocolate "Pie" Halves
  • 1 cup organic soymilk
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 2 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup vegan butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1.5 teaspoons Ener-G Egg Replacer powder
  • 2 tablespoons water

Vanilla Filling
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons vegan shortening
  • 2 tablespoons vegan butter
  • 1.5 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 to 1 tablespoon soymilk, as needed

First, preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit to make the pie halves.  Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

In a small bowl, mix together the soymilk and vinegar and allow to sit for five minutes to curdle.  Meanwhile, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.  Set aside.  Then, using a stand or hand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy (about two to three minutes). Scrape down the side of the bowl and mix for one more minute.

In a separate small bowl, whisk together the egg replacer and water.  Add this to the sugar mixture and stir.  Then add the dry ingredients and the curdled soymilk to the wet ingredients and stir together until just combined.

Scoop mounds of dough about 1 inch apart on the prepared cookie sheets.  For large pies, create 24 mounds; for small pies, create 48.  Then bake the pie halves, rotating the pans once during baking, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the pie comes out clean (about 8 to 10 minutes).  Once out of the oven, let cool completely on the pans.

While the pie halves are cooling, make the vanilla filling.  Using a stand or hand mixer, mix together the butter and shortening until well combined, scraping the side of the bowl at least once during mixing.  Then, while mixing on low speed, slowly add the powdered sugar.  Finally, add the vanilla and soymilk and mix on low until a smooth, spreadable filling is formed. 

Now it's time to assemble the whoopie pies.  Fill a pastry bag (or use a ziplock bag with the corner cut off) with filling and pipe a dollop of filling onto half of the pie halves.  Top those with the remaining pie halves and press down slightly. 

Yields 12 large or 24 small whoopie pies.

Comments:
Taste:          

This is a fun and delicious recipe.  The pie halves are rich and chocolatey, while the filling is light and sweet.  There were two issues with the pies we made, though.  First, the pie halves were a bit crumbly.  Be sure not to over-bake them.  Second, the filling was a bit stiff and difficult to work with.  I usually like my frosting to be thick, but this filling needs to be malleable and easy to work with.  With those two changes, they'd surely earn a four-carrot rating.
Accessibility:      
I recommend Earth Balance shortening and butter, but those aren't sold everywhere (try Whole Foods). 
 Ease of Preparation:        
If you have a spring-loaded ice cream scoop, now is the time to get it out!  An ice cream scoop would have been really helpful to use when forming each half of the pie, making them flat on the bottom and round on top—and symmetrical.  If you're like me and you don't have one of those, a small measuring cup will do! 
Non-vegan friendliness:        
It's always a good sign when people go back for seconds.  There was a lot of that going on when we brought these over to a friend's house for dinner.  Whoopie!

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