Monthly Archives: April 2011

Where did all the Whoopie Go?

written by Becky

Red Wine Cupcakes with Blackberry-Reduced Wine Icing

I have a confession, I have been neglecting making Whoopies (I so wanted to write “makin’ Whoopie” without pluralizing it as I knew it would be more amusing but… well I am referring to the cookies and nothing further). There are two reasons for this neglect. First, I have discovered a problem with having a Whoopie Pie blog and it is not running out of things to say about them, as was suggested might happen, but rather I feel like I can’t bake everything else I love to bake. Second, I have been taking a cake decorating course for the past month and so have been force to bake sugar cookies, a cake, cupcakes and then another cake. Even though I do have a sweet tooth, eating Whoopies on top of all of these things is a lot of sugar!

So here is the solution: a new addition to Let’s Make Whoopie – a place for other baking done by Courteney or I!

And since I previously had mentioned the red wine cupcakes in the Guinness Whoopie Pie post, I figured that was a good place to start – I would get to try what sounded like a delicious recipe, and I would make the required cupcakes for my class.

Although I have never heard about these interesting culinary concoctions, I discovered that there are actually several red wine cupcake recipes out there, some have a lot of chocolate, some have a little chocolate, and some have none. Of course the amount of red wine in the recipes differ as well and the frostings vary from a condensed milk glaze to a port wine buttercream to a blackberry wine buttercream to a chocolate ganache frosting. Since I was hoping to be able to taste the wine, I figured I would stay away from the super-chocolatey ones but since chocolate and red wine pair well together to follow a recipe with at least some chocolate. Furthermore, this recipe was shown with the blackberry-wine buttercream and I thought that sounded FANTASTIC. Here is the recipe. I used a Cabernet Sauvignon for both the cupcakes and the icing since it is what I had.

I should add that unlike the beer batter Whoopies, the batter for these were delicious. It was creamy and smooth and so so good. And you can see that they baked up nice as well! Look how much they rose and how perfectly rounded they are! They also smelled good – not really chocolatey or vanilla-y like most baked items but sweet and comforting.

As a sidenote, it occurred to me when I was using my giant “cookie” scoop that I mentioned in the post about size that using the big one meant that one “American Sized” Whoopie Pie is actually equivalent to TWO cupcakes (with less icing of course). That is a lot of Whoopie!

Because my cake decorating class was teaching us how to fill cupcakes as well, I figured that was a good excuse to fill these guys with a chocolate ganache filling. I just did the basic ganache: heat 1/2 cup of whipping cream until it bubbles around the edge then pour that over 4 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate. Wait about 2-3 minutes and then stir until it is nice and smooth (of course it looks kind of nasty first – like the picture). Oh and then I added about a tablespoon of seedless raspberry jam. I should point out that I originally thought I would do a whipped ganache – basically just whip it after it has cooled in the fridge to add more airiness  – but when I went to pipe this into the middle of the cupcakes it was way too hard so I melted it in the microwave for 15 seconds and it became liquid! Oh well, still piped that way.

So after piping in the filling, it was time to decorate! First a layer of the blackberry – wine frosting (for those interested, I was originally disappointed as I didn’t feel like there was enough flavour to it but then decided I did quite like it) and then some fun decorating. Since we were learning different techniques, I decided to just try them all – hence all the random different types! I kind of like the whimsical look of them! In the end, I liked these cupcakes a lot. The red wine flavour isn’t strong but there is something familiar about it that makes them tasty. The texture is good and moist although somewhat dense. I loved the chocolate ganache filling with it too! So all in all, a success, even if they weren’t Whoopie Pies!

I don’t really know which is my favourite – either the one below (a Shaggy Mum) or the pretty pink icing with the yellow flowers & leaves (I love piping leaves)! It was fun to take them to work to see which one people picked as their cupcake of choice!


Challenge: Sucrose-free Whoopie Pies

Written by Courteney

The Challenge: To modify a whoopie pie recipe so as not to use granulated OR icing sugar.

The Backstory: One of my friends/co-workers is, unfortunately, allergic to both fruit sugars (fructose) and ‘normal’ sugar (i.e. granulated sugar).  I know.  A little bit tragic – I don’t know how she survives.  However, she’s always interested in what baking adventures Becky and I have/are embarking on, and was one of the first readers of our blog.  So I decided that a fun challenge would be to try to modify a whoopie pie recipe so that she, too, could enjoy the experience that is the Whoopie Pie.

My friend is a huge fan of peanut butter, so I decided to make classic chocolate whoopies with salty peanut butter icing, from the book Whoopie Pies by Sarah Billingsley & Amy Treadwell.  I’ve posted my modified recipe after the break, for those of you who are interested.

Since my friend is allergic to sucrose, she suggested I substitute dextrose, which is another type of sugar with slightly different chemical structure, which she usually uses in her baking instead of granulated sugar.  It’s found in the bulk food section of some grocery stores (i.e. Save-on Foods) and is of a slightly different texture than granulated sugar.  It’s definitely not granular, but more powdery, like icing sugar.

Dextrose from the bulk food section (picture taken at the mouth of the bag)

Since dextrose is not very sweet, my friend suggested using rice syrup as a sweetener, which she can eat and has a consistency a little like honey.

Rice syrup, available from Whole Foods. It kind of reminds me of alfalfa honey.

If a recipe calls for, say, 1 cup of sugar, she usually substitutes 1/2 cup of rice syrup, and 1/2 cup of dextrose – this provides the bulk that granulated sugar gives to a recipe, as well as a little sweetness, although it’s nowhere near the sweetness of regular sugar.  This conversion was my starting point.

I accidentally over-thawed my butter (I forgot to take it out of the freezer earlier, so to ‘soften’ it to ‘room temperature’, I stuck it in the microwave.  It promptly melted), which probably contributed to the liquid-y-ness that I found (I’ll discuss this more later).  But here’s a picture that gives a better idea of what rice syrup is like – it’s the beige-coloured viscous liquid just above/on the white dextrose.

This gives a better idea of what the rice syrup looks like. Taken pre-mixing of the butter (melted, yellow), shortening, dextrose (white), and rice syrup (beige-coloured trickles above the dextrose)

I found that when I did a strict substitution of 1/2 cup of rice syrup and dextrose, each, for 1 cup of brown sugar, the outcome was very liquid.  On the right, you’ll see my cookie sheet pre-baking, and below, post-baking:



As you can see, there was some serious spreading occurring.  I quickly went back and added another 1/4 cup of dextrose and about 1/3+1/4 cup (=7/12 cup?) of flour to soak up the excess liquid.  My second attempt looked something like this, which I judged to be more whoopie pie-like:

MUCH better!!

The icing was very simple and delicious – I really liked that the salt brought out the peanut butter flavour and gave it a different, sharper taste.  For the icing, I instead of 3/4 cup of confectioner’s sugar, I used 1/4 cup of rice syrup (for sweetness) and about 3/4 cup of dextrose.  It ended up being a teeny bit dry and difficult to pipe (I burst a hole in my makeshift icing bag trying to ice these!) so maybe next time I’ll decrease the amount of dextrose I added.  YUM!

How simply delicious!

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Does Size Matter??

written by Becky

The constant question of size… it is applied to pretty much every aspect of life but it has yet to be discussed for Whoopie Pies. As I have 3 perfectly sized cookie scoops, I feel like I easily qualify to discuss this matter thoroughly  (well not that thoroughly as how much is there really to say? Actually this post is longer than I had anticipated!)

Originally I bought the smallest cookie scoop (one inch) – seemed like a good size for most cookies. Quickly I realized it made cookies better suited to… uh… well those with small appetites for sweets (maybe Courteney sized?). I am rather fond of sweets so I often required more than one (I won’t put in a real number here) portion of these puny treats.

Next came the big daddy of cookie scoops. The two inch diameter of this scoop produced cookies the size that you frequently get at coffee shops or bakeries. Even with my love of cookies, this size cookie were what the Cookie Monster would call a “sometimes food” (cookies should always be in moderation but these giant cookies should really only be consumed after running a marathon). I did realize that this size was ideal for muffins and cupcakes though. Perfectly, evenly sized portions every time!

Finally, I found it – the one-and-a-half-inch scoop. I had to really search for it as I could only find the metal ones in the States but finally I found it. And didn’t buy it. I figured I had enough with two but after not buying it, I realized I really NEEDED it. So I asked a friend going South shortly after I first saw it to pick it up for me. And it really is the perfect size for cookies. I love it and have given it as gifts to several people. Most recently I gave one to my friend as a wedding shower gift (along with a giant cookie sheet). The last time I was at the couple’s house, the newlywed husband was exclaiming that he loved it! Not just for cookies but he used it to perfectly portion the filling for perogies! And my friends and I find it is the perfect size for cake pops too!

Now on to Whoopie Pies – the whole point of this blog!

I did a test run (as can be seen by the pictures!) Before baking, it is really rather difficult to understand the size difference of these scoops and how I can have such strong opinions of the varying size of cookies produced. But after baking, it is a little more apparent.
And once they are assembled, the Whoopie Pie sizes are demonstrated easily. I like to call the little guys “Whoopie Juniors” while the middle size is the regular size (recommendations on names are definitely accepted!) and the monster size ones in my head are either “Man-sized”, “Shareable Size” or “American Sized”. Now I don’t mean the last name as a slam on Americans – I am just pointing out that this is the size that is sold in the States and shown in every picture I have seen of someone eating a Whoopie Pie. These guys are pretty much the size of a smallish hamburger. That is a lot of Whoopie to me! Since the actual size is sort of hard to tell from the pictures (even with a lovely hand model – myself), I will point out that the big-daddy sized Whoopie Pies are nicely modeled by Colin in How to Eat a Whoopie Pie.

So, does size matter??

Makin’ Whoopee

Written by Courteney

When we were debating the name of our blog, our future taste-tester Patty was a firm supporter of “Let’s Make Whoopie” … mainly because “Makin’ Whoopee” is the name of a jazz song!  According to Wikipedia:

“Makin’ Whoopee!” is a jazz/blues song, first popularized by Eddie Cantor in the 1928 musical Whoopee!. Walter Donaldson wrote the music and Gus Kahn the lyrics for the song as well as for the entire musical.
The title is a euphemism for sexual intimacy, and the song itself is a “dire warning”, largely to men, about the “trap” of marriage. “Makin’ Whoopee” begins with the celebration of a wedding, honeymoon and marital bliss, but moves on to babies and responsibilities, and ultimately on to affairs and possible divorce, ending with a judge’s advice.

The song has been covered many times by many different people (Frank Sinatra, Doris Day, Bing Crosby, Elvis Costello and Diana Krall, among others).  Thanks to the miracle of Youtube, you can see it here:

The challenge: Irish Whoopie Pies

written by Becky

The challenge: Irish Whoopie Pies: convert the Guinness Chocolate Cupcakes with Irish Cream-Cream Cheese Icing to Whoopie Pies.

It all started with a co-worker bringing Guinness Cupcakes with amazing Irish Cream Cream Cheese Frosting to work and everyone adoring them… and then it was suggested that the Whoopie Pie version should be attempted. The rest, well here is what happened:

Maybe it wasn’t the best idea, but I decided to start the Cupcake-to-Whoopie Pie recipe swap with A) a recipe I hadn’t tried before, B) a cupcake that isn’t your classic cupcake recipe, C) a recipe that contains a lot of liquids that could result in a cookie sheet full of flat, baked together “cookies”, and finally D) a recipe involving an ingredient that I don’t really like: BEER. But the challenge had been given and I don’t back down easily.

While searching for the recipe right now to post the link, I now realize that there are many recipes that use a cup or less of beer – rather than the whole bottle as my recipe recommended! That would have been much easier to work with because of the reduced volume of liquid! But then again, what would I do with the leftover beer? So with one difficulty being the recipe, the second difficulty was trying to buy a single can/bottle of Guinness. I admitted defeat in this area: I went to 3 different liquor stores/cold beer & wine stores and couldn’t find it so I ended up buying Double Chocolate Stout. I figured it would work well since the cupcakes are chocolate anyways!

My initial plan was to reduce the amount of liquid and eggs in the recipe but instead I decided that adding more flour could work just as well. (I will post the recipe at the end of this post for those that want it – both the original and how I made it.) I don’t think I thought this through well enough as I likely should have added more baking soda as well but oh well. Initially I added just an extra ½ cup. Then I baked a single Whoopie in my toaster oven. Very quickly I could tell that it was spreading quite a bit. I added another ¾ cup (so total was 1 ¼ cup) as I had previously come across something that suggested just adding an extra 1 ¼ cup of flour to a cake mix makes whoopie pie consistency batter. I baked another cookie. It was better but still not quite fully there so I added another ½ cup. Well this didn’t seem to improve the flatness much and I could tell the cookies were becoming less chocolaty so I dumped in ¼ cup extra cocoa and just went for it. This batter was sort of weird to work with as it was much more elastic than what I am used to working with for Whoopie Pies or cakes. Plus it formed what I called “warts” while baking – so some of the Whoopies had bubbles coming up (I totally forgot to take pics of my warty cookies!). To be thorough in description – the other change I made was to switch the oil to butter so they wouldn’t flatten as much (shortening might have worked even better).

The batter was endless – this made a VERY LARGE batch! It may not have helped that I switched to my small cookie scoop as I was bringing them to work and I like to make sure lots of people can try them.

The biggest disappointments with this experiment were that the batter tasted DISGUSTING and the beer smell wafting from the oven when you took the baked Whoopies out. Ugh, did I mention I don’t like beer?

The results though were DELICIOUS! At first I didn’t think it had worked, the cookies didn’t seem the right texture and they didn’t look all that moist. I figured all that extra flour had dried them out. But no, they were bubbly and moist. Plus, when you added the Baileys Cream Cheese Frosting they tasted quite good!

Oh, right I haven’t mentioned the filling yet! The co-worker/friend that had come up with this Whoopie Pie challenge kindly brought me the Baileys to use since I was out of stock at home. Although I included the recipe below, I really didn’t follow it. I basically beat together a package of cream cheese, ½ cup butter, some Baileys and some icing sugar. I say “some” because really I just put in Baileys until I liked the strength of the taste (no wimpy icing for me!) and balanced out the viscosity with icing sugar. And then added more Baileys since it was a little more dilute again! Mmm… Unfortunately the icing was a little softer than I would normally like to pipe with but cream cheese icing will stiffen up with cold so after piping some sloppy icing, I put some in the freezer before piping the rest. Of course I left it too long and then had to try to soften it again so I could pipe it. Fun. But in the end they were worth it – tasty and boozy with an interesting texture (I don’t quite know how to describe it – there is almost a pleasant chewiness to them).

Next? Well I just discovered there are Red Wine Cupcakes – that is a WAY better idea than Beer Cupcakes!

Here is a recipe similar to what I was given (except mine said yogurt instead of sour cream). And here is what I actually did:

Guinness Whoopie Pies with Baileys Cream Cheese Filling
1bottle Double Chocolate Stout
½ cup milk
½ c butter
2tsp vanilla extract
3 large eggs
1 cup 2% plain yogurt
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
1 cup granulated sugar
4 ¼ cups all-purpose flour, sifted
1 ½ tsp baking soda

Directions (Note: I didn’t follow the directions as stated in the recipe, since I was using butter, I wanted to beat the butter & sugar together first and so mixed things according to how I would normally make a cake batter).

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Beat together butter & sugar. Beat in the eggs one at a time and then the vanilla followed by the yogurt.
  3. In another mixing bowl, mix together the cocoa, sugar, flour, and baking soda.
  4. Starting with the dry ingredients, alternate between mixing in the dry ingredients and the stout & milk (I didn’t add them mixed together – I did the stout in two additions and the milk as a separate wet addition). The original recipe says to not overbeat but I am sure I did as I was trying to figure out the right amount of flour!
  5. Scoop (I used my cookie scoop) 1-2 Tb of batter onto the paper. Bake 6-8 minutes until set in the middle.
  6. Cool a couple minutes and then transfer to a drying rack.

Cream cheese icing
250g cream cheese
1/2 cup butter, room temp
1 1/2 cup icing sugar
Bailey’s Irish cream
Beat all together!

Assemble Whoopies: Place one cookie flat side up and pipe icing on. Sandwich another cookie over top. Done! Refrigerate to solidify the icing more!

Note from Courteney:  These were SO GOOD!!  They were such a big hit at work; they went faster than the Classic whoopie pies!  You won’t believe the compliments Becky got.  SUCCESS!!