Whoopie Pies

What exactly is a whoopie pie, you may ask??!  There is some argument as to whether whoopie pies originated in the Pennsylvania Dutch region or Maine.  Regardless of their history, they are a staple dessert item here in Maine, and you will find them at every roadside cafe, lobster pound, and corner store counter.  Heck, the legislature even just made them the official state “treat”.  The “cookie” aspect is pretty universal in that it is a chocolate cookie that is vaguely cake-like with a domed top.  Take two of these and sandwich some vanilla frosting/cream in between and you have a whoopie pie!  Sometimes people like to switch things up and make pumpkin flavored ones in the fall or peanut butter ones, but the chocolate cookie with vanilla frosting is traditional.  It’s in the “frosting” which you usually will find the most variation.  Most whoopie pies that I have had in restaurants, corner stores, etc., have a pretty sweet filling.  It’s not my favorite.  Based on my numerous discussions with friends and acquaintances, it seems that the filling is frequently made with marshmallow fluff.  My boys love that version!  I however don’t really care for that fluff taste.

So, after about eight different iterations of whoopie pies, I think I have finally found our family’s favorite.  My husband and I love them, and my kids do too!  (Although, they do say that the ones they serve in the school cafeteria on special occasions are better. *Shrug* No accounting for the taste of a 6 and 8yo.)

I find them pretty sweet and filling, so I make the cookies with 1 Tbsp cookie scoop which makes a cookie that is about 2.5 inches in diameter.  They take about 10 minutes to bake.  Bigger cookies will take longer obviously.  I highly recommend a cookie scoop though so they are a uniform size.  It makes it easier to find sandwich mates!

My favorite cookie recipe is one that I found on the Omnomicon blog.

Recipe makes about 17 pies.

Whoopie Pie Cookies

1/4 cup Crisco (I use butter-flavor)
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups flour
1/4 cup + 1 Tbsp cocoa
1-1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt

In a mixer, beat the Crisco and sugar for about 1-2 minutes.  Add egg and incorporate. Beat in milk and vanilla.  In a separate bowl mix the dry ingredients.  Mix well to incorporate the cocoa, etc.  Slowly add the flour mixture into the wet ingredients until combined.

Using the 1 Tbsp. cookie scoop, drop onto a ungreased cookie sheet (don’t use a Silpat or parchment).  The cookie batter almost has the consistency of brownie batter.  They spread a little, but not too much.  Just place them as you would chocolate chip cookies or something like that.  Bake 10 minutes at 375 degrees.  Test using a toothpick to make sure it comes out clean.  Remove from baking sheet almost immediately to a wire rack.  May need to use a metal spatula.  They will be crumb-y on the bottom, which is what you want (hence no Silpat or parchment).  Helps to hold in the creme!

For the cream/frosting filling, I have made a lot of different recipes.  As I said above, the fluff was too sweet.  Confectioners sugar was REALLY too sweet.  Granulated sugar was grainy.  Yadda yadda yadda.  I was making these adorable chick cupcakes last week for my son’s class, and I made the frosting that she recommended.  DING!  It was perfect for Whoopie Pies!!!

This is the recipe from Our Best Bites, with my little hints that I found worked for me.  Some people in the comments had problems with the cream coming together.  I never had a problem with it.  I think because I actually cooked the milk for a little longer than her pictures indicate.  It goes from liquid to thick very quickly. You will need to double the original recipe (revised quantities are below) in order to have enough for all the pies.

Whoopie Pie Frosting

1 cup milk
6 Tbsp. flour
1 cup sugar
1 cup butter (2 sticks), softened to room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla

Cook milk and flour over medium heat, whisking the whole time.  After a few minutes, it will go from liquid to thick pudding very quickly.  Remove from heat, and pour into a fine mesh strainer over a bowl.  Push the milk mixture through the strainer using a rubber spatula.  It might be difficult, just keep pushing it through and it will eventually all go through.  Put in refrigerator to cool down to room temperature.  (About 10 minutes.)  When the milk mixture is cool, you can mix your butter and sugar.  Using a stand mixer equipped with a wire whisk, beat the sugar and butter for about 2 minutes on speed 6.  Add vanilla and mix to incorporate.  Add in the milk mixture and beat with the wire whisk on Speed 8 for 10 minutes.  Wipe down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula  a few times during mixing.

Spread a glop of cream mixture in between two cookies.  Smoosh a little so they hold together as a sandwich.  I don’t like to use too much, but it’s up to you.  Store covered at room temperature for the day or two that they will be around.  If storing for longer, I’d put them in the refrigerator because of the milk in the cream.

Crochet Hexagons

I finally started a crochet project based on the projects from Lucy at Attic24.  Her blog is so full of lovely crocheted rainbow-goodness.  Check it out!  I’ve been reading her blog and thinking about making something for at least two years.  I went back and forth trying to decide what I wanted to make.  I finally settled on the hexagon tutorial, and am going to make enough to make a pillow for the couch.  Hopefully two pillows.  I bought about 16 skeins of rainbow colors of Knit Picks Wool of the Andes (worsted) which is really affordable at $1.99/ball.

Yarn Goodness!

Let’s see if I can put these in order without getting up and referencing the yarn (from top, L to R): Winter Night, Hyacinth, Red, Lullaby, Rouge, Orange, Avocado, Caution, Calypso Heather, White, Semolina, Hyacinth #2, Grass, and Fairy Tale.  (Thankfully had the Knit Picks catalog sitting here!)

Here are my first two hexagons!  They will all have the yellow center (color=semolina), and then will hopefully all be unique for the other rounds.  I’m using a size G/4.25mm hook.

My first two hexagons!

The tutorial is very easy and clear.  The stitches are all variations of double or single crochet, so nothing too fancy to learn.  She also discusses how to join them as you go, but I’m going to make them separate and join them later for this first time.  I’m not sure how I want them to be organized since this is my first time making something like this.  I’m sure joining as you go is much easier in the long run, but that’s okay.  They are approximately 4.25″ across, unblocked.

April Fools Day Nor’easter

Last night I noticed that the weather forecast changed from 9-12 inches to 10-15 inches.  Gee.  That’s nice to hear for the first day of April.  And almost all of our snow was gone!  Sigh.  Not anymore!

9:30am with a full day of snow to come!

Therefore, on a day like this, I felt the need to share something a bit more spring-y.  How do you like my new-to-me train case that I found on Etsy?  I think it will be perfect to carry my crafting supplies with me to SAW (Squam Art Workshops) in June!

Vintage train case