Tuesday, June 9, 2009

the case for whoopie pies

I have a love-hate relationship with cupcakes. They may be fun and delicious to eat, but at work I write about new cupcake bakeries almost every week--or least it seems that way. When will we all get sick of them? Somehow, like leggings, cupcakes maintain their trendiness and will not go away. But as much as I grumble about this or that new cupcake franchise, if you give me a cupcake, I will shrug my shoulders and inhale it. And I guess that's how they remain so popular.

I think it is time to move on. Let's let a new dessert get totally and completely out of hand. I propose the whoopie pie. According to Wiki, whoopie pies are of Amish descent and got their name because "children (or workingmen)" would find them in their lunch boxes and "shout 'whoopie!'" I have a hard time picturing this, but it's a very nice story. Does the cupcake have a cute little legend? No.

A whoopie pie has all the things a cupcake offers: cuteness, portability, vaguely retro charm, and frosting. Even better, the frosting is nicely positioned between two layers of cake, so you can actually walk and eat a whoopie pie without getting frosting all over your nose. Even The New York Times says they are having a "moment," which usually means a trend is dead, but this time, I have to disagree.

As further evidence of why this should be the next big dessert trend, Mindi made pumpkin whoopie pies for our potluck the other weekend and people went ape for them. Ape, I tell you. They were sweet and moist and filled with cream cheese frosting. And they flew off the tray. I ate one and a quarter and could have gone for a second, but it just didn't seem dignified.

Pumpkin whoopie pies
Adapted from Rachael Ray.
(Makes 1 dozen)

1½ sticks (6 oz.) unsalted butter, 1 stick melted, 1/2 stick softened
1 cup packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature, lightly beaten
1 cup canned pure pumpkin puree
1 Tbsp. pumpkin pie spice
1½ tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. plus 2 pinches salt
1 2/3 cups flour
4 oz. cream cheese, chilled
1 cup confectioners’ sugar

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. In a large bowl, whisk together the melted butter and brown sugar until smooth. Whisk in the eggs, pumpkin puree, pumpkin pie spice, 1 teaspoon vanilla, the baking powder, the baking soda and 3/4 teaspoon salt. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the flour. Using an ice cream scoop or tablespoon, drop 12 generous mounds of batter, spaced evenly, onto each baking sheet. Bake until springy to the touch, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool completely. Meanwhile, using an electric mixer, cream the softened butter with the cream cheese. Add the confectioners’ sugar and the remaining 2 pinches salt and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla; mix on low speed until blended, then beat on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Spread the flat side of 12 cakes with the cream cheese frosting. Top each with another cake.


Laura said...

I love whoopie pies...probably because they can be more reliably counted upon to have cream cheese frosting than cupcakes can. But pumpkin sounds amazing!

Lisa said...

Hey Laura! I never thought about that but you're right. Most whoopie pies do have cream cheese frosting, more so than cupcakes.

Daniel said...

These whoopie pies were good, though Mindi is not Amish, and I'm guessing used devilish modern kitchen gadgets to make them, so they are not authentic.

I'd like to put in a plug for the whoopie pie flight at One Girl cookies in Caroll Gardens:


I guess they really are having a moment. We'll have to put them on the menu for the Nuttruck.

Lisa said...

Actually, One Girl does have their baked goods on a new truck called Street Sweets. Unlike cupcakes, I am wholeheartedly behind the food truck trend here.


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