Now I’m going to tell you: my mother’s whoopie pie recipe is SO GOOD that I will often tell people that I don’t like whoopie pies at all, because I have yet to find another recipe that I actually like. Other people’s whoopie pies are too cakey, or too cookie-like, or (as is usually the case) the filling is pure frosting, which is WAY too sweet and totally the wrong texture altogether. My mom’s whoopie pies were famous in our circles, and she generously provided them whenever demanded, particularly when visiting my Uncle and Aunt in Maine for Thanksgiving and Christmas. I ate more whoopie pies in my childhood than cupcakes, brownies or cookies combined; they were a true and strong family tradition.
Antonia, a faithful reader, pointed to a NYTimes article about the Whoopie Pie and well hey, I’m not usually up to snuff on anything topical, and since I have an authentic family recipe on hand, I am suddenly compelled to showcase my (rather specialized) expertise!
A proper whoopie pie is not merely some cloying abomination of sugar and fat. No no, it is delicate in its way, the sweetness ever-present and yet subdued. Please do not compare them to a Devil Dog or Moon Pie. Please do not make them with cake mix and tub frosting. A whoopie pie is a very specific delicacy and there are rules.
A proper whoopie pie “cookie” is a medium-brown shade, fairly dry (not all oily and moist like a Little Debbie’s snack), but still somewhat densely cakelike, maybe a vein or two where the scoop let go of the batter. They crack ever so slightly, but sometimes they don’t and maybe that has something to do with the barometric pressure. I dunno, they still taste right and seem to have the right texture, so aesthetics aside, it’s fine either way.
The proper whoopie pie filling is made with Crisco (which, apparently, no longer contains trans fats), butter, whole milk, sugar, a tiny smidge of flour and a regular portion of vanilla. Did you notice that it has no Fluff in it? That’s because Fluff is for fluffernutters, not whoopie pies. You will also notice that the filling is not a frosting, but a creme. While eating, one will lose all the filling out the sides and must open the pie, collect up the creme that has splooshed out back onto the bottom piece, then recreate the sandwich, only to do it all again in the next bite or two. This is the proper way to eat a whoopie pie.
This process presented many lovely photo ops. Let’s take a look!
This one reminds me of a dusty construction site.
The cookies can be removed from the cookie sheet almost immediately, but you really need to use a metal spatula and carefully scrap them off. I like the texture underneath, it gets a little crispy as it cools and it is so so satisfying to snack on the odd unmatched whoopie pie cookie before they’re frosted.
The creme takes a convenient 10 minutes to make, which you can most likely complete between the time the first batch of cookies goes into and comes out of the oven. I’ve found it nearly impossible to make the creme without an electric mixer (stand or hand, your choice), and sometimes it takes longer than others. For the first several minutes of mixing, your creme will look like this: kinda gross.
And then you’ll hear a cherub giggle, and an angel wing will brush against your shoulder as suddenly the creme whips up into this glorious appearance. The texture is extremely creamy, but still looks like this.
Since I started making my own food, I’ve lived on these for days at a time. Not particularly healthy nor affluent days, but certainly enjoyable ones.
Mom’s Famous Whoopie Pies
makes about 14 after batter & cookie sampling
brought to you by very fortunate family ties.
|1/4 c Crisco||2 c flour|
|1 c milk||1/4 c + 1 tbsp cocoa|
|1 c sugar||1.5 tsp baking soda|
|1 egg||1 tsp salt|
|1 tsp vanilla|
Drop by the small tablespoonful onto an ungreased cookie sheet—a tablespoon-sized bakery scoop works best. Bake exactly 8 minutes at 375o, see if a toothpick comes out clean, and if it doesn’t, bake another 2 minutes (10 total). Upon extraction from the oven, remove from pan immediately to wire rack to cool.
And now the creme filling (reminder: it’s not frosting, guys)
1/2 c margarine or butter (room temp is best)
1/2 c Crisco (my mother is insistent that this MUST be Crisco and CANNOT be generic shortening, nor substituted in any way . . . but if you do get it to work with a substitution, please let me know!)
1 c sugar
1 tbsp flour
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 c warm whole milk (20 seconds in the microwave should do it)
Beat with a mixer (stand or hand, your choice) for-freakin-ever. It will start out just like, well, lumps of Crisco floating in milk, then bits will get smaller and smaller, then it’ll slosh around for a little bit, and, much like the butter making process, you’ll be wondering if this will ever become anything or if you maybe messed it up somehow. Suddenly, about five minutes later, your mix will look weird for a second, and within moments your slushy mess will turn into a glorious white creme, smooth and perfect in a way rarely seen outside the confines of uber-processed food with chemicals you can’t pronounce that are not even available to the consumer in their pure form.
As soon as the whoopie cookies are cool, match each whoopie with its closest brother in size—even if yours didn’t all come out the same size, evenly matched whoopies will look much much nicer. Spread some filling on the flat side of one, then place the second on top. Repeat. This does not need to be done immediately before serving, as the filling tends to maintain its consistency surprisingly well, and some (like my mom) would argue that a day-old whoopie pie is even better than fresh. I like them all.
No need to refrigerate, sealed plastic or plastic wrap will keep them fresh.
. . . and that’s it. Congratulations! You just made the best whoopie pies known to man.
Not like it’s diet food or anything, but these are not quite as totally terrible as I thought they’d be!
Nutrition Summary (for 1 whoopie pie of yield 15): 330 calories, 17g fat, 1g fiber; 8 Weight Watchers Points