Whoopie Pie vs. Oreo Cakester

June 17, 2008

This is an addendum to yesterday’s Whoopie Pie post.

A while back I posted a recipe for chocolate sandwich cookies, which were basically homemade Oreos. Katie asked if they were like the Oreo Cakesters, which I thought were more like Whoopie Pies at the time. So when I made the Whoopie Pies, I bought a box of the Cakesters for comparison.

They taste nothing alike, and the texture’s not very similar either. The Cakesters taste just like an Oreo, but are softer. They’re still a little chewy though, and not nearly as tender as the Whoopie Pies. They’re somewhere in between the cookies and the pies, I think. (Katie, you were right!)

The Cakesters are a lot smaller than I expected too. The picture above is comparing it to the smallest Whoopie Pies that I made. They come two cakes to a package for a total of 250 calories.

I wasn’t too crazy about them. I ate one cake and gave the rest of the box to my brother. But really, they taste just like Oreos. If you like those, you’ll like these.

Nabisco also sells Oreo Chocolate Creme and ‘Nilla Cakesters.


Chocolate Whoopie Pies

June 16, 2008

Two discs of chocolate cake sandwiched around a cloud of frosting. Is it a cakewich? A frosting burger? No! It’s a Whoopie Pie. I seem to be on a pattern of baking things with goofy names.

Whoopie Pie

Soo… is it a pie or a cake? Actually, this recipe is from the King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion. So I’m classifying it as a cookie. Though, really, I consider it a cookie-shaped cake. On the other hand, cookie supposedly means little cake, soo… I guess that’s the problem with labels, eh? Let’s not think too hard about it.

When I got the King Arthur Flour book for Christmas, this was one of the recipes that leaped out at me. I’d heard of Whoopie Pies, but I didn’t know what they were. Actually, I thought they were the same as Moon Pies, which I’ve never liked. (Though that could be because my grandma always had the banana flavor.)

It seems that Whoopie Pies are a New England tradition, which explains my ignorance, being a Gulf Coast dweller myself. I haven’t been able to dig up too much history on the treat, but according to What’s Cooking America, they originated with the Pennsylvania Amish. Not wanting anything to waste, they used leftover batter to make these pies. Appreciative children cried “Whoopie!” and thus, the Whoopie Pie was born.

Traditionally, Whoopie Pies are humongous things, but I made mine in three different sizes. See the notes for more details.

Chocolate Whoopie Pies
adapted from The King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion

Oven Temp.: 350°
Approx. Bake Time: 13-15 minutes
Yields: 4 large (4 inch) pies

Ingredients

Cake:
4 tbsp. butter, room temperature
1/2 c. brown sugar
2 tbsp. beaten egg
1 c. flour
3 tbsp. cocoa powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 c. milk
1/2 tsp. vanilla

Filling:
6 tbsp. butter
2/3 c. powdered sugar
3/4 c. marshmallow fluff
3/4 tsp. vanilla

Instructions

Cake:
– In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In a liquid measuring cup, mix together the milk and vanilla.
– In a separate bowl, cream the butter, sugar, and egg. Alternate adding the dry ingredients and milk mixture, adding the dry ingredients in three installments and the milk mixture in two. (It should go dry-wet-dry-wet-dry.)
– Drop the batter by the 1/4-cupful onto a lightly greased baking sheet. Bake in a preheated oven until they are firm to the touch. Remove from oven and transfer to wire rack to cool completely.

Filling:
– Beat all four ingredients together until light and fluffy.

Assembly:
– Spread half of the cookies with about 1/4 cup of filling, then top with the remaining cookies.

Notes
– When portioning out the cake batter, you may want to spritz your measuring cup or other scooper with a little non-stick spray to get the batter out more easily.
– To make about 8 medium sized pies, spoon two tablespoons of batter per cake layer and bake 11-13 minutes.
– To make about 16 small pies, spoon one tablespoon of batter per cake layer and bake for about 10-12 minutes.
– These are best stored individually wrapped.


Vanilla Cupcakes (Small Batch)

March 17, 2008

Cake. A lot of people say that it’s a vehicle for icing. Sometimes that’s true, I think. However, if you’re going to take the time to bake a cake yourself, the result should be able to stand on it’s own.

My mission was simple: make a really good cake. I decided to start out with a basic vanilla cake. Well, a small batch of vanilla cupcakes. An entire cake is too much for my family.

I started with the often praised recipe for Vanilla Cupcakes in The Magnolia Bakery Cookbook. I scaled it back to make just six cupcakes, and tinkered with the ingredients quite a bit. My final recipe doesn’t look much like Magnolia’s, but I did glean an excellent piece of information from the book: cream your butter and sugar A LOT. I know it’s obvious, but it’s something that I’ve skimped on before.

The cupcakes are very moist. They aren’t too sweet, but they are surprisingly rich. I compare the richness to that of a yellow cake, just without all the egg yolks. They’re the perfect canvas for any icing, so use your favorite.

Vanilla Cupcakes

Oven Temp.: 350°
Approx. Bake Time: 15-20 minutes
Yields: 6 cupcakes

Ingredients

2/3 c. flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/8 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. cream
2 tbsp. milk
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
5 tbsp. butter, softened
1/3 c. sugar
1 egg

Instructions
– Prepare your ingredients: In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. In a liquid measuring cup, mix together the cream, milk, and vanilla.
– Make the batter: Using a hand-mixer, whip the butter for about 30 seconds. Add the sugar, and cream until very light and fluffy. Beat in the egg, just until incorporated. Now, switch to a whisk to add the dry ingredients in three installments, alternating with the wet ingredients. (Add in this order: dry-wet-dry-wet-dry.) After each installment, stir just until combined. Batter will be thick.
– Bake: Line a muffin tin with six liners. Distribute batter evenly between the liners; it should fill them about 3/4 of the way. Bake in a preheated oven until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out mostly clean. Cool on wire rack before frosting.

Notes
– When creaming the butter and sugar, you do not need to worry about over-mixing. In fact, you should probably mix more than you think you need to! The creamed butter and sugar should be almost white in color.
– Now, when adding the wet and dry ingredients, you DO need to worry about over-mixing. That’s why you switch from an electrical mixer to hand-power.
– These puff up in the oven, but the tops flatten after a couple minutes. So if you get flat tops, you didn’t do anything wrong.