Friday, February 25, 2011

Whoopie Pies

Growing up these are something I always remember my Mom making… particularly the filling (my Mom made the best frosting)… they’re just a little crispy on the outside with yummy sweet frosting on the inside… kind of like a homemade devil dog… 

As I’ve gotten older I’ve realized these are unique to certain areas of the country… New England in particular.  Do you have whoopie pies where you live?  Do you call them whoopie pies or something else?

So, on this snowy, cold, raw night we’re going to get cozy, and have a sleepover with my nieces & nephew or ‘the cousins’ as they’re known around here, and I thought what better to go with our homemade pizzas than Whoopie Pies.  YUMMMY.

In my adult baking life I’ve tried many-a-recipe trying to recapture the taste of Mom’s.  None have come close… until I found these on Bakerella's  website (if you’ve never spent any time over there I would highly recommend checking it out… the cake pops are on my list of things to try).

There are variations to this recipe of course (in the fall I make pumpkin ones… YUM).  But, for this cold February day we’re making chocolate.

This is my ‘go-to’ cookbook.  It has all the recipes I download from the internet… I’ll do a tutorial on it at some point.  Anyway, under my cookies, bars tab is my Whoopie Pie recipe.


First, preheat oven to 375 (adjust for your oven as needed… I find 400 is better on mine to get the crispy).  Line your cookie sheets with parchment paper (optional but recommended… mainly for me b/c it makes clean-up so much easier.) Also at this point take a stick of butter out of the fridge to get to room temp for the filling.


Next in a mixing bowl sift 1 2/3 cup flour, 2/3 cup cocoa 1 1/2 tsp baking soda, 1/2 tsp salt (if using unsalted butter… if salted butter omit the salt here).




Get your helper to sift for you…



Then you’ll get a beautiful shade of brown (hmmm… I wonder if Lowe’s could match it for me as a wall color… sorry… I digress).


Next add 4 tbsp unsalted butter, and 4 tbsp vegetable shortening to your mixer bowl.


Take a picture of your cute helper (optional… but recommended)


Measure out 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar (recipe calls for dark I’ve only ever used light so it’s up to you).


Make sure your helper doesn’t eat too much of the spilled brown sugar.


Add brown sugar to butter/shortening.


Mix until combined, and then beat for 3 minutes.


Add egg, and 1 tsp vanilla


Make sure your helper gets the majority of the egg in the mixing bowl.


Beat for another 2 minutes.


Then measure out 1 cup milk.

Add 1/2 cup of milk, and 1/2 the cocoa/flour mixture to mixer on low speed, and combine.  Repeat with the last half.

WARNING… a cloud of cocoa will form, and engulf your kitchen… but it’s cocoa, and it smells good so no worries.


Now you have a gooey… chocolaty… yummy…


I also love to use my Pampered Chef cookies scoops for this part.  You can use the 1tbsp one for smaller whoopie pies, I prefer the 2 tbsp ones, but it’s up to you.


If doing the 1tbsp you can fit 3 across on a standard cookie sheet, if doing the 2tbsp you can fit 2 across.


Recipe calls for baking them for 10 minutes.  I find I have to live them in for more than 20, but that may be my oven, so start at 10, and check them.  If they are shiny or glistening at all they’re not done.  They should be springy to the touch.  Take out, and leave on cookie sheets for 5 minutes, and them move to cooling rack.


Ok.. now for the gooey filling.  I use a standard buttercream for the filling which is very sweet.  You can use whatever kind of frosting/filling you prefer.  Bakerella uses a peanut butter filling, a cream cheese would also be good.

So, for my go to buttercream…

Combine 1/2 cup butter (room temp), 1 cup shortening (don’t you just LOVE this pre-measured sticks from Crisco??) in mixer, and beat until combined.



Add 1tsp vanilla (there is a clear vanilla you can buy so this won’t affect the whiteness of the buttercream, but I find it doesn’t change it that much, and I prefer using pure ingredients when possible).


Then add 1/4 cup of milk (more or less depending on the consistency you want… you can also substitute water here).


Mix milk in slowly as it will splash, once combined turn speed up to beat the mixture together.


Then add 2lb bag of confectioner sugar ( I actually use about 1/2- 3/4 of a bag, and adjust for the consistency I want… move sugar will make a thicker consistency, less sugar will make a runnier consistency).  Just like with the milk, add slowly, and at a low speed unless you want a cloud of conf sugar.  A great tip to keep the sugar dust from covering your mixture is to put a wet paper towel on top of it.



On the cooling rack I flip over half of the cakes, and try to align with tops of similar size.


A simple way to do the filling is to fill a pastry bag, or ziploc (with a corner cut off), and a star or round tip, and pipe or swirl on that way. 

For today I used my favorite frosting tool… I have no idea what it’s called… it’s a “Wilton” tool for cake decorating… it’s a bent knife/spatula… It spreads very easily & nicely.



Adjust the amount of frosting as desired…some like a good ole’ dollop, while others prefer a shmear… do what feels right.




This MUST be enjoyed w/ a tall glass of ICE cold milk…


Whoopie Pies

1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
4 tablespoons vegetable shortening
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup milk

Preheat oven to 375 degrees line sheets w/ parchment paper. (Take butter out of fridge for filling to come to room temperature.

In a small to medium mixing bowl, sift together, flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt.

In mixer bowl, blend butter, shortening and sugar with a mixer on low until just combined. Then beat for 3 minutes.

Add egg and vanilla and beat for two more minutes.

On low speed add half of the flour mixture and half of the milk until incorporated. Repeat with remaining flour and milk and beat until combined.

Using a tablespoon, drop batter on baking sheet two inches apart. Bake for about 10-20 minutes depending on your oven. Until pies spring back when pressed gently, and are no longer glistening.

Remove from oven and cool for about five minutes before transferring them to a rack to cool completely.



Buttercream Filling (Can also be used for cakes & cupcakes)

1/2 cup butter (1 stick… room temperature)

1 cup shortening (I don’t recommend butter flavored)

1/4 cup milk (adjust for correct consistency)

1 tsp vanilla (can also add 1 tsp of flavored extract depending on what you’re using the buttercream for… almond, lemond, rose, etc)

2 lbs conf sugar (sifted if using to decorate).

Cream butter, and shortening.  Add milk (at low speed), and vanilla.  Mix until blended. At low speed add conf sugar until you get to desired consistency, scraping the bowl as you go.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Love This…

I saw this idea a few years back in Real Simple magazine… the idea was to use an over the door shoe organizer for all those accessory cords (you know for your ipod, your camera, your camcorder, etc).  I thought it was great, but those items in my home took up about 3 pockets, but now I had this convenient over the door organizer.  I’m not a real organized person but every once in awhile I find something that works that I love.  This has helped with our getting out the door routine.

So… in hanging this I’ve found all sorts of wonderful things to stash there that you made need at the last minute before you run out the door.


The bottom pockets are my daughter’s shoes… this way they’re at her level, and easy for her to get them, AND put them away which she loves, and is so proud of herself.

Several pockets (out of reach of little hands) I have filled w/ all those annoying cords


Then about third row up (I switch this out seasonally)… Right now those pockets hold her hats, and mittens (no more digging around for matches).


Then once the warmer weather comes around (it WILL come eventually) I put the sunscreen, bug spray, and sunglasses here.


This is one little organization idea that has made my life easier.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

WOW Puffs part 2!

I was so excited & honored today to see Betty Crocker mention my Cinnamon Puff recipe on Twitter & Facebook!!  It was wonderful.

I loved reading all you comments, and visiting your blogs (BTW, I’ve added a blog list… if you have a domestic-themed blog & would like to be added… let me know).

I’ll try to answer all the questions about the post & recipe.

1) CORRECTION… it is 1/4 tsp nutmeg… not 1/2 (although you could adjust for your own taste)

2) The slotted spoon is from Pampered Chef (I’m not a consultant but I know a great one if you need anything) as well as;

  • The mixing bowls (LOVE them)
  • The measuring cup
  • The cookie scoop
  • The glass bowl the egg is in

3) The dishes are an old Pfaltzgraff pattern called “Charlotte” which was not available for very long.  I ended up getting most of the pieces on ebay.

Thanks again everyone… would love to know if you tried the Puffs & how they turned out!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Growing up in the 80’s

If you grew up in the 80’s more than likely  come Thursday night your TV was tuned into “The Cosby Show”.  A show I have recently rediscovered on my Netflix… this show still makes me laugh out loud.  I love his no- nonsense approach to parenting.


The show was definitely better in it’s early years when the kids were younger, and added to the comic relief.  One of my very favorite scenes is in the pilot episode when Cliffs (Cosby) son Theo (played by Malcolm Jamal-Warner) comes home with a less than stellar report card.  Theo explains to his father that maybe his aspiration in life is to be a ‘regular person’ like a gas station attendant, and that will make him happy.  Cliff teaches him a lesson in economics using monopoly money which has little effect.  Later in the episode Theo makes a heartfelt plea to his father, again saying

“Your a doctor & Mom’s a lawyer, and that’s great.. but MAYBE… I was born to be a regular person, and have a regular life.  If you weren’t a doctor I wouldn’t love you less, because your MY Dad.  So, instead of acting disappointed because I’m not like you, maybe you can just accept me for who I am and love me anyway because I’m your son”

The live audience let’s out applause at this sentimental after school special type moment.  In 70’s & early 80’s TV it would have been left there with Cliff responding you’re right son… do what makes you happy followed by a warm embrace.  BUT… here enters the brilliance of Bill Cosby.

“Theo…. THAT’S THE DUMBEST THING I’VE EVER HEARD IN MY LIFE!  No wonder you get D’s in everything”


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Sunday, February 20, 2011

Cinnamon Puffs

Love, love, love these little nuggets of buttery cinnamony sugary goodness… They’re a cross between a muffin, a cupcake, and a doughnut…


Years ago before I became a Mom I would host a mother’s day brunch for my Mom & sister-in-law.  I did this recipe every year.  I found it in a wonderful Betty Crocker cookbook (I get several recipes from this book, and they never fail).   In this book they’re called “French Breakfast Puffs” I’ve tweaked it a bit to make it my own.


Today my daughter & I attempted, and failed to visit a new church so we headed home, and since we now had a free morning I decided to make a batch of these.

Start by spraying a muffin tin w/ cooking spray (paper cups won’t work for this recipe).  The recipe calls for a standard muffin pan, but I prefer to use a mini-muffin pan as then you can just pop one in your mouth. (One batch will do one pan of puffs).  Preheat oven to 350.


Next add 1/3 cup shortening to your mixing bowl  (as an aside this Pampered Chef measuring cup is wonderful for sticky items like shortening, and peanut butter as you just push up on the bottom to get the gooeyness out!)


Then add 1/2 cup white sugar, and 1 egg to the shortening.



Beat together…


… until it’s creamy yellow goodness…


In another bowl mix together 1 1/2 cups flour with 1 1/2 tsp baking POWDER, and 1/2 tsp salt.


Then add 1/2 tsp nutmeg… just enough.


… and mix all together.


Measure out 1/2 cup of milk


With mixer on low speed alternate adding milk & flour mixture to the egg mixture, and beat until combined.


Then put in muffin cups filling about 2/3.  (I love to use my 1tbsp cookie scoop to do this).





Put in oven bake for 25 minutes (adjust time for your oven as needed they should be nice golden brown when done).

Have a cute helper to assist with the clean-up while they’re baking (this step is optional but does add to the fun).


Also, while baking prepare the melted butter, and cinnamon sugar.

Mix 3/4 cup sugar w/ 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon in small bowl.


Melt 3/4 cup butter in another small bowl (do this step just a few minutes before the puffs come out of the oven).


Get out a pretty plate to put them on when they’re ready.


Take them out, and while they’re still hot (you may want a slotted spoon to help with this as the butter, and the puffs are HOT).

Dip in the butter, and then the cinnamon sugar.



The recipe says to serve warm, and while they’re delectable this way… I like them even better the next day they get a little crispy on the outside, and soft on the inside.



Then have your helper do a taste test…



Around here we call just call them “Puffs”


1/3 cup shortening
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 cup milk
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
3/4 cup melted butter or margarine

1- Heat oven to 350. Spray or grease mini muffin pan.

2- Mix shortening, 1/2 cup sugar, and egg thoroughly.  Mix flour, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg; stir into egg mixture alternately with milk.

3- Fill muffin cups 2/3 full.  Bake 20-25 minutes (less if do mini muffins), or until golden brown.  Mix sugar & cinnamon. Melt butter.

4- Roll hot muffin immediately in melted butter (definitely use a utensil to do this), then in sugar-cinnamon mixture.  Serve hot.