January 6, 2012

The Bad Day Balm: Applesauce Whoopie Pies

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I had a crap day at work yesterday. I mean, a really crap day. Full of frustrations and no one telling me the things that they're supposed to tell me and no one being where they're supposed to be and people getting mad at me when I'm left with no other recourse but to call them. A crap day. And I'm only part-time. So I really needed a pick-me-up when I got home. Some people drink when they have a bad day, some people smoke, some people blow up things on their X-Box. Me, I bake.

I used the drive home to decide what it was I wanted to bake. I really wanted some of my new favorite cupcakes, my Applesauce Cupcakes. But I'm also of a mind that whoopie pies make everything better. And I wanted to do something new, so I could post it here. But darn did I want the comfort of my favorite cupcakes.

And then the epiphany hit. Why couldn't I have both? Whoopie pie batter is basically a cake batter with shortening replacing half of the butter. A few minor tweaks, and my favorite cupcakes could be turned into whoopie pies.

Never heard of a whoopie pie before? You have my sympathies. They're one of my favorite treats. I first had them at an Amish farmer's market while I was at camp in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. It was love at first bite. The classic whoopie pie is a fluffy, dark chocolate cake with a marshmallow filling. It looks like a sandwich cookie, but it's actually cake. (Ever had an Oreo Cakester? Similar concept) However, in recent days, people have been making whoopie pies in all kinds of flavors, with all kinds of fillings. I'm pretty partial to the classic marshmallow filling, though I have been known to whip up the occasional batch of peanut butter or cream cheese fillings, but I have no qualms about experimenting with the flavors of the cakes.

Plenty of people will try to convince you that a whoopie pie is frosting sandwiched between two cookies. Those people lie. A whoopie pie is not a whoopie pie unless there is cake involved. These terrible liars can get away with it because until recently, whoopie pies were almost exclusive to New England and the Pennsylvania Amish (and, inexplicably, the bakery of a local grocery store in my hometown. I'm convinced the baker must be from New England). People don't know any better and think that these poor imposters are real whoopie pies. Let's educate the masses, shall we?

As I mentioned above, this is pretty much the recipe for my Applesauce Cupcakes, with a few minor alterations. Reduce the butter to 1/4 cup, and add 5 tablespoons shortening, and nix the vinegar. I also used 1/4 cup Splenda Brown Sugar Blend, instead of the 1/2 cup brown sugar, but that was mostly because I had it on hand, and was running low on brown sugar. Either way works well. I also added a tablespoon of milk to the batter at the end, because it was way too thick- more like a cookie dough. I don't know if it was because of the reduced sugar or the lack of vinegar or what. I never had to do that with the cupcake version.

The batter's mixed up the same way as the cupcakes- just add the shortening with the butter, and add the milk at the end if you need it- so I didn't take pictures of it. You can just see that post if you want a refresher.
When the batter's done, drop it by the tablespoon onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or a Silpat mat. I was a little overly cautious with the spacing here, but make sure to leave at least an inch between them. These guys will spread while baking.

Some people use whoopie pie pans, but frankly I think that's a waste of money and space.
Bake at 350 degrees for about 7 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. Yes, the toothpick test is the most reliable, even with these cookie imposters.
While these cool, it's time for the filling. I call this my no-fail whoopie filling, because it's really impossible to screw up. You just need Marshmallow Fluff, butter, shortening, powdered sugar, and vanilla extract. I also added a dash of cinnamon, but that's completely optional. It's perfectly yummy on it's own.
Beat everything but the sugar together with an electric mixer on medium speed. Add the sugar in small increments until completely combined. Then whip on high speed until fluffy. The longer you whip it, the fluffier it will get.

Now, I'm not normally a "the more frosting, the better" sort of person. But this isn't frosting. It's marshmallow filling which is sweet without being too sweet, and smooth without being creamy. And so very fluffy. So I fill my whoopie pies pretty darn generously. Feel free to use as much, or as little, as you'd like. Just remember that it doesn't keep very well- up to a week in an air-tight container- so if you have extra you're going to need to use it.
Applesauce Whoopie Pies {Printable Version}
Yield: 15 whoopie pies (30 cakes)

2 cups flour
1 tsp. cinnamon
1tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. nutmeg
½ tsp. salt
½ cup sugar
½ cup packed brown sugar (or ¼ cup packed Splenda Brown Sugar Blend)
5 tbsp. solid vegetable shortening
¼ unsalted butter, softened
1 egg
½ tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 tbsp. milk (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°. In a medium mixing bowl, combine flour, cinnamon, baking soda, nutmeg, and salt. Set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer, or in a large mixing bowl with electric beaters, beat butter, shortening, and both sugars together at medium speed until fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla, beating well after each addition. Add the flour mixture, alternating with the applesauce, and beat until well-combined and smooth. If the batter seems too dense or dry, add the milk.

Drop the batter by the tablespoonful on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, making sure to leave about 1 inch of space between each cake. Bake for 7-8 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely before filling.

Recipe by Kim

Marshmallow Whoopie Pie Filling {Printable Version}
Generously fills 15+ whoopie pies

1 cup Marshmallow Fluff (or comparable marshmallow crème)
1 cup powdered sugar
½ cup solid vegetable shortening
¼ cup unsalted butter, softened
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Using an electric mixer, beat together Fluff, shortening, butter, and vanilla extract on medium speed. Gradually add the powdered sugar, beating well after each addition. When all the powdered sugar has been added, increase the mixer speed to high and continue beating until light and fluffy. Sandwich between two whoopie pie cakes and serve.

*This filling can be flavored with various spices (such as cinnamon) or flavoring extracts. Just add to taste.

Recipe by Kim

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  1. I totally bake when I'm having a bad day too! I made whoopie pies before, but with a different filling. This one sounds WAY better. I can't wait to try it!

    1. I may or may not eat this filling straight from the mixing bowl with a spoon. Let me know how you like it! I'm glad to know I'm not *completely* weird for breaking out the bakeware when I've had a rough day.


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