Whoopie Pies

Whoopie pies are becoming the new cupcakes – one of those things you need to know about if you’re a trendy baker-type person – and I’m trying not to make this that kind of blog. But allow me to preach about them for just a second, because they’re absolutely delicious. They look a little bit like mini hamburgers, with buttercream sandwiched between two layers of cake that’s a cross between brownies and sponge.

The recipe I used comes from Green & Black’s Ultimate Chocolate Recipes (click here for more information) which is a fabulous book for chocolate-lovers (and frankly, I have limited patience with any dessert that doesn’t contain chocolate). The unique texture of the cake layers comes partly from the fact that there’s a large quantity of melted chocolate and butter in the mix, so the cake turns out moist rather than light. A few tips – you can easily use Stork (or similar) instead of butter, which a lot of posh recipe books call for, without any effect on flavour. Also, if you’re trying to save money on a recipe that calls for lots of chocolate, don’t bother with cooking chocolate – real chocolate will taste much much better, but you don’t have to spend loads of money on it – I’d recommend Sainsbury’s Basics chocolate as perfect for the job.

When we made these this week, we decided to experiment a bit with flavours (the original Green & Blacks recipe is just plain chocolate cake and vanilla buttercream), which is actually really easy – so you can make these whoopie pies just the way you want them. For one lot, we added white chocolate chunks to the cake dough – again, don’t bother buying special chocolate chips, just chop up some normal chocolate, because it’ll be cheaper and nicer – which works really well. Since the pies are only cooked for ten minutes, the chocolate will melt but not start to burn. We also experimented with flavouring the buttercream. You need to be a bit careful when you do this because if you add too much liquid flavouring, your buttercream will get all sloppy. So if you’re using coffee, for example, make a good strong espresso and don’t use instant if you can avoid it, so you won’t need to add as much. To make caramel buttercream, you can make your own caramel to mix with margarine and icing sugar… or you can take the lazy route like I did, and mix your buttercream with a big dollop of Carnation Caramel (which is also a really good shortcut when you’re making banoffee pie).

I think one of the best results was chocolate orange – we added some grated orange zest & a few drops of juice to the buttercream, and then a bit of red and yellow food colouring to make it look pretty. You can get orange essence to flavour it also, but if you’ve got an orange in the fruit bowl then you’ll be able to grate off a bit of zest and still eat the rest of the orange, so you might as well. The orange flavour will get stronger over time, so don’t worry if it doesn’t taste orange-y enough to start with!  The main thing to remember is to let the cakes cool completely before you sandwich them together with your buttercream of choice, or it’ll melt and make a huge mess.

In short, whoopie pies are ace and you should try them. Make sure to serve them with a generous cuppa.