Part muffin, part cupcake, part small cake, part cookie, whoopie pies have surged in popularity throughout the world. They originated in an America and are made of two half-round pieces of sponge cake, with a sweet or savory, creamy filling sandwiched between the two halves.
Often the assembled whoopie pie is then iced. In some ways they resemble short-bread cookies made in two halves and iced together, or gem scones.
There is a huge variety of options available for cake and fillings, from sweet chocolate-mint pies to more savoury styles made with carrot and walnut whoopie pie recipes.
Other popular varieties are banana, red velvet, peanut butter, raspberry, pumpkin, strawberry lemonade, orange cream slice and lemon blueberry.
It is thought that the original whoopie pies may have been made from leftover cake batter. But they are now made using specially designed recipes and methods. The two cake halves can be baked free-form on a baking tray, or using special whoppie pans that resemble muffin pans, but with larger and shallower recesses.
There are also stand-alone cooking appliances for whoopie pies with non-stick heated pan and mini-ovens that close over the base.
This article has three fabulous recipes for making whoopie pies at home and lots of tips to get you started.
Basic Equipment - You will need the equipment required for making cakes such as, bowls, measuring spoon, a mixer (preferably a standing one) and baking sheets. Non-stick whoopie pie pans are very useful but not essential. You also need something to take out measured portions of the cake mix to make the tow halves. You will need a melon baller for 2-inch whoopies or a 2-tablespoon scoop (such as a large ice scream scoop) for 4-inch whoopie pies. You will also need baking paper or waxed paper for the baking trays. Other options are a pastry bag or an icing bag for the topping and filling. For the whoopie baking trays you will spray oil, even if they are non-stick to ensure the cakes slip out easily (they are quite soft when cooked and damage easily).
Size - A standard conventional whoopie pie measures about 4 inches (10cm) in diameter, but many people make smaller ones for various purposes including bite-size ones for parties, including birthday parties there are no real rules.
Shape - Many whoopies are made with a tounded or domed top, others are flat, especially on the bottom. Shape doesn't really matter. The thickness of the batter determines how they spread when being cooked. Using the pans and precise measurement of the amount of mixture add into them helps maintain a constant shape. The cakes made with whoopie pie pans often have a more pronounced lip.
Filling thickness and type - There are no rules on how much filling is applied between the cakes. It can be spread with a knife or spatula of using an icing bag.
Use Butter in the Cake Recipe - Resist the temptation to replace all the butter in the cake mixture with substitutes as this changes the shape and texture.
Don't stack the cakes on top of one another after they had cooled - they will stick together and this will ruin the top shapes. If you must stack your cakes, be sure to place parchment or waxed paper between the layers.
You can make the cakes well ahead of time and ice them just before serving -You can bake the cake rounds 3-4 weeks ahead of time. Simply thaw the cakes, pop back in the over for 5-10 minutes and then add the filling and ice the tops.
Makes about 10 Whoopie Pies (20 halves) depending on the size
For the Cream Cheese Filling:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and grease with a little butter. Sift together the flour, baking soda cocoa powder, baking powder and salt into a small bowl. Using a mixer or food processor beat butter, vegetable shortening and sugar together using a low speed. Continue only until just combined and creamy. Then adjust the speed to moderate and beat until the mixture is smooth, creamy and fluffy (about 5 minutes). While beating add the two large eggs one at a time, and mix well. Finally add the red food coloring and vanilla and beat until the color is just blended into the mixture, without streaks.
Next, add the buttermilk and flour mixture to the batter while mixing, in several batches. Mix until well blended. Using a spoon or someone measuring device, fill the cups in a whoopie pie pan two-thirds full with batter. Is using a baking sheet, drop about 1 1/2 tablespoons of batter onto a greased. Add additional portions spacing them at least 2 inches (5cm) apart. Bake the whoopie pie halves for about 10 minutes each. Test for doneness. The cakes should spring back when gently pressed.
When cooked remove the baking sheets or pans from the oven and let cool with the cakes still in the pan or on the sheet for about 5 minutes, Then gently remove each one and transfer them to a rack to cool completely.
For the filling beat the butter and cream cheese together using a moderate speed. Slowly add the sugar with the mixers set to low speed. Add the vanilla and using a moderate, beat until the mixture is creamy and smooth (generally 4-5 minutes).
Assemble the whoopie pies by spreading filling on the flat side of one cake with a knife and gently sandwich two cakes together. Put on a serving plate, without stacking them (otherwise they could stick together).
For the Filling:
Method - as above
For the Cream cheese frosting
Preheat oven to 190 degrees C (375 degrees F). Line two baking trays with baking paper or grease two whoopie pie pans. Using an electric beater or food processor mix the butter and sugar on moderate speed until creamy and pale in color, and then add the egg while beating.
Next, add the carrot, walnuts, bicarbonate of soda and cinnamon to the batter mixture and combine well. Fold in buttermilk and flour, gradually in several batches, until just smooth. The final mixture should be quite stiff as otherwise it will run excessively when baked.
Use an ice-cream scoop or other measuring implement to transfer portion of the mixture onto trays, allowing about 2 inches (5cm) for spreading. Bake for about for 10 minutes or until the cakes are firm and springy to touch. Cool slightly on the pan or tray. Then remove the cakes and allow to cool completely.
Make the filling by beating the butter and cream cheese until smooth and well combined. Add the icing sugar and beat again until thoroughly mixed. Blend in the milk and vanilla and beat on a low setting until mixture is pale and creamy. Use the mixture as a filling and as an icing.
Prepare the cakes as described for the basic chocolate recipe (above)
To make the filling - Melt the cream and chocolate and cream in the microwave set on high, stirring every minute. Keep heating stirring and checking until just melted. Remove from the microwave, add the butter and stir until smooth. Transfer to the refrigerator and chill for 1-2 hours until the mixture is thick but still spreadable. Mix with a beater to ensure it is smooth and creamy. Using a piping bag or a knife spread the mixture thickly onto one half-cake, and add the top cake to form the pies.
Melt the chocolate over steam or in a microwave and add to the tops. Sprinkle with chopped Peppermint Crisp and allow the icing to set before serving.