Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Whoopie Pies! & a visit to the King Arthur Flour Store

I tweated about these Whoopie Pies a week ago and I'm so sorry for the delay in getting them posted.  If you read my other blog No Reeats you'll know that I am back to work for a few weeks and have been insanely busy.  Regardless of that, I promise these fabulous little chocolate sandwiches fondly known as whoopie pies were definitely worth the wait AND just in time to make for your upcoming Superbowl party or even for your sweetheart for Valentines day.  

Over the holidays the Boy and I spent some time down in Boston.  On our way back to Toronto we made a little side trip at Mom & Dad's trailside condo in Killington.  As I was researching the weather and figuring out when to go, it dawned on me that we would be driving dangerously close to the King Arthur flour plant and store.  That I had spent so many years growing up and as an adult driving to Killington and never realized this seems crazy.  But I guess it's because up until I really got into baking a few years ago I had no idea what King Arthur Flour was, to be honest I could care less about any specific flour, just so long as I had what I needed to make a tray of brownies.

As I've gotten more into baking the brand King Arthur has come up more and more.  I'm specifically intrigued with their black cocoa. So much so that I asked for some for Christmas and was lucky enough to receive it.   I didn't use it in this recipe, but did use some other treats I bought on my trip.

Upon first walking into the store, you are hit first by smells from the cafe, fresh coffee and sweets and then visually it's all about the flour display, at least for me.  I beelined for the flours and grabbed 2 bags of white whole wheat.  Healthy Bread in 5 Minutes a Day always calls for it in recipes I want to try but having not yet come across it in Canada I wanted to snatch it up (stay tuned from some whole wheat brioche in the near future).  As I kept walking I came to the cocoas and other flavorings.  I so wanted to snatch up some more black cocoa, hoarder that I am, but then saw the Cocoa Rouge as well as some Malted Milk Powder and decided that it would be best to diversify a bit.  

Along with a jar of local honey (because the boy and I can't resist) I was more than happy with my baking booty. So we headed over to the cafe side.  A latte and brownie for the boy and a cafe au lait and apricot square for me and we were off.  The brownie was the perfect balance of cakey & fudgy and the crumble on top of the thick apricot jam and shortbread crust was ideal for me.  I hope next time I'm in the area I can stop in and take one of the many classes offered there.  

Onto why you are here.....Whoopie Pies.  Apparently these little treats are in contention to be the cupcake of 2011.  They are in competition with Macaroons.  Here's why I think the Whoopie's will win, first they have an amazingly fun name and second they are just a bit easier to make for a novice baker or someone who many not have the most reliable oven (meaning me).  I've tried Macaroons a few times and while I'm not completely blaming the oven, my oven is not great at holding a constant temperature which can make baking delicate things very difficult.  

Having never made Whoopie Pies before, I knew I needed to find a good recipe but of course had to tweak it.  I LOVE Mexican chocolate and have some really great ancho chili powder and Vietnamese cinnamon in my pantry that I knew would be perfect to make a Mexican spiced cake.  I read tons of recipes online and then found one on the King Arthur site and in the spirit of my recent visit decided to try it.  I adapted their cake recipe and made a cinnamon cream cheese icing for filling. 

Mexican Chocolate Whoopie Pies with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Filling
makes 12-16 pies

adapted from King Arthur

1/2 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon espresso powder, optional
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 tsps Vietnamese Cinnamon
1 tsp ancho chili powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg
1/2 cup King Arthur Cocoa Rouge or other high-quality Dutch Process cocoa
1 cup buttermilk


4 oz cream cheese
4 Tbps unsalted butter
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups or more icing sugar
1 tsp Vietnamese cinnamon

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease (or line with parchment) two baking sheets.
2. To make the cakes: In a large mixing bowl, beat together the butter, sugar, espresso powder, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ancho chili powder and vanilla till smooth. Add the egg, again beating till smooth.
3. Add the cocoa, stirring to combine.
4. Add the flour to the batter alternately with the milk, beating till smooth. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl, and beat again briefly to soften and combine any chunky scrapings.
5. Drop the dough by the 2 Tbsp scoops onto the prepared baking sheets, leaving plenty of room between the cakes; they'll spread. A muffin scoop works well here.
6. Bake the cakes for 15 to 16 minutes, till they're set and firm to the touch. Remove them from the oven, and cool on the pans. While still lukewarm, use a spatula to separate them from the pan or parchment; then allow to cool completely.
7.  To make filling beat together butter, cream cheese and salt until light and fluffy.  Add in icing sugar 1/2 cup at a time.  Once combined add in cinnamon and beat until combined.  Reserve until cakes cool.
8. Spread the flat side of half the cakes with the filling. Top with the remaining cakes, flat side towards the filling. Wrap individually, in plastic wrap, till ready to serve
I loved these.  The chocolate cake was dense and moist with a touch of spice that went beautifully with the cinnamon cream cheese filling.  I brought them too work and they disappeared before lunch which I am taking as a good sign.  I look at these little treats as a twist on the cupcake and can't wait to play around with more flavors.  

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