Although things vary depending on the country, school and program, there are two major hurdles during a science PhD: the comprehensive exam and the thesis defense. The exam (usually just referred to as the ‘comps’) is usually within the first couple years of a PhD while the thesis defense essentially marks the completion of the degree. This past week, Courteney (the long-lost-partner of Let’s Make Whoopie blog) completed her comps and ended the what-seemed-like-endless studying that she had been so focused on for the past 4-5 weeks.
It seems there are two groups of people: those that become so engrossed and focused on studying and the fear of failing that they cannot fathom discussing anything else or planning any activity during the entire study time and those that need to plan other activities to keep sane in an otherwise bleak time! I have never done a PhD but I can only assume I would be the latter. Although I did well in school, I never liked studying and needed to take mental breaks. Either way, I always look forward to when my friends/co-workers finish their comps. And although I am sure the ‘examinee’ is happy just because it is over and they passed and they can move on, I am happy to no longer have to hear about the all-important-mind-consuming exam and to have a normal conversation with the person again!
Anyways, with all of that said, these Whoopie Pies are a congratulatory treat for Courteney! Good Job! (I had meant to actually have these done for her right after the exam but I got sick… and so they provided a nice treat to go with our standard Friday morning coffee the next day!) The flavour is not meant to reflect Courteney in any way! Although it does beg the question of “if Courteney were a Whoopie Pie flavour, which would she be??”
The cakes are pretty good. Moist and tasty. The filling is on the lighter tasting side because of the whipped cream. The ganache filling adds a little richness that enhances every bite!
Marbled Whoopie Pies
(adapted from Whoopie Pies) Makes 12 filled Whoopie Pies
- 1 3/4 cup flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup butter
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 egg
- 2/3 cup buttermilk
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 tsp espresso powder
- 2 Tb cocoa
- Preheat oven to 350° and line baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Beat butter and sugar together well until fluffy and light (3-4 minutes). Beat in the egg and vanilla.
- Whisk together flour, baking soda and salt in a separate bowl. Remove 1-2 Tb of it and reserve. Add to the butter mixture alternatively with the buttermilk.
- Remove half of the batter and add the reserved flour to it. To the other half, add the cocoa and espresso powder.
- Put both batters back in the same bowl and swirl. DO NOT OVERMIX! You want them to look marbled!
- Scoop/spoon or pipe the batter onto the prepared sheets. Bake 10-12 minutes or until they bounce back when slightly pressed (your finger indent should spring right back up!) Cool 3-4 minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack.
Mocha Chocolate Ganache
- 1/2 cup whipping cream
- 1 tsp espresso powder (or more! you can’t really taste 1 tsp)
- 3/4 cup chocolate chips
- Place chocolate chips in a small bowl.
- Warm the whipping cream in a small saucepan. Once it is slightly warm, add the espresso powder and stir to help it dissolve. Heat until small bubbles form but it does not boil.
- Pour over the chocolate chips. Allow to sit for 2-3 minutes and then stir for a few minutes until it becomes smooth.
- Allow to cool until it becomes thick (it takes longer than you expect! Put it in the fridge/freezer to speed it along!)
- 3/4 cup cold whipping cream
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 2 Tb icing sugar
- Beat whipping until soft peaks form.
- Add vanilla and sugar and beat until stiff peaks (don’t make it into butter though!)