Sunday, May 2, 2010

Whoopie Pies

Alternate titles either Giving in to the Inevitable or Sweet Baking from my Pantry. As soon as I saw the new Whoopie Pies book by Sarah Billinglsey and Amy Treadwell (Chronicle Books 2010) at Omnivore Books, I knew that at some point K would spot it and it would end up coming home with us. I even went so far as to ask Celia to hide it on one occasion. But, last week, after her fine class play performance, K chose the book as her congratulations present. Silly, I know, but somehow spoiling my child with baking books has become a tradition.

What followed was K's usual pattern with baking books. The book is read from cover to cover and then on the second go round, pages are turned to indicate favorite recipes. We then "pretend" to bake after spending quite a bit of time debating the optimal combinations. Often, we disagree. In the case of whoopie pies, we disagreed. K will always, if given the chance, opt for the sweeter the better. I tend to prefer a little bit of savory or salt with my sugar. She wanted vanilla with classic marshmallow or malted butter cream filling. I wanted pumpkin with cream cheese filling.

After several days of debate (I'm not exaggerating by the way, those who know K will understand), we compromised on oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. Filling was still up for debate. K was pushing for marshmallow but I used the old "don't have the ingredients in the house" excuse to push for cream cheese. Just for fun, we flavored the cream cheese with some of our homemade strawberry balsamic jam. The balsamic in the jam is fairly subtle.

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Whoopie Pies with Strawberry Balsamic Cream Cheese
(based on recipes from Whoopie Pies )
Recipe states that this will make 24 completed pies, we ended up with 10 larger pies)

4 T unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 t vanilla extract (they call for 1 but I like a lot of vanilla)
1 1/2 cups rolled oats (not fast cooking)
1/2 t baking soda
1 t Cinnamon (they call for 1/2, we also like Cinnamon)
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1 t salt
1 cup chocolate chips (they suggest 1/2 cup raisins or nuts)

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In your stand mixer, beat together the butter and sugar until fluffy and smooth. Beat in the eggs (thanks Celia) one at a time. Add vanilla and continue to beat until creamy.

They suggest then processing the oatmeal in a blender of food processor until it resembles whole grain flour. I skipped this step and we ended up with crunchier cooks. Again, your tastes may vary, but I like the slight crunch and chewiness. I'm also a lazy baker so I tend to add my dry ingredients directly to the mixer without combining first. I probably would not do that with something complicated but with cookies, I skip steps.

Add oatmeal, flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt to mixer. Beat until combined. Add chocolate chips and beat to incorporate.

Using a spoon drop about 1 T of batter onto the parchment covered baking sheet, about 2 inches apart. Bake 11-15 minutes or until the cookies begin to brown. Remove from oven and cool.

We let them sit overnight as we had dinner plans at the always wonderful Woodward's Garden If you have not been--go. K adored the bread, liked her pasta (how have I raised a child who does not know how to twirl pasta?) and was delighted by her rhubarb, lemon, vanilla ice cream bombe. I thought my beet raviolo to start was really lovely and am planning to replicate as best as I can at home soon. For my entree, I had steak with both a wonderful tapenade and a great gratin of (I think) cardoon. I finished with strawberry rhubarb shortcake because one can never have too much strawberry rhubarb. Service was lovely even though K was in a mood. Someday she will be able to eat in a non pizza restaurant, right?

For frosting
4 oz cream cheese at room temperature
4 T butter unsalted at room temperature
3 1/2 cups powdered sugar (1 16 oz box)
2 t vanilla (they call for one)
3 T strawberry balsamic jam (optional, feel free to omit or use a jam of your choice)

In the bowl of your stand mixer combine cream cheese and butter and beat until smooth. Add sugar and beat until combined. Add vanilla and jam and beat until incorporated.

The construction of the pies is fairly simple. Spread frosting on flat side of one cookie and create a sandwich with second cookie. Fend off child until finished and enjoy.

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