Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Cake of the Week: Black and White Whoopie Pies

This recipe takes your standard whoopie! to a whole new level. Lightly almond-y cake, bitter dark chocolate, and creamy sweet frosting with a hint of cream cheese tanginess. Yup, I’m in love. And they’re so conveniently portable!

I brainstormed these babies while in the pool on Sunday. It was a debate between layer cake and whoopie pies…but as SpeedyKate said, “Whoopie pies sound easier to transport..." with a look in her eyes that screamed transport them to me! in a hungry desperation that only a pool-runner can understand.

If you want to go for the pretentious title, call these babies Vanilla Almond Whoopie Pies with Dark Chocolate Ganache and Cream Cheese Frosting (sounds impressive, right?) Well these little treats are actually super easy! I happened to have leftover dark chocolate ganache in my fridge from the Red Velvet Cake. I’d been slowly chipping my way through the block of ganache for far too long…it needed to not be a snacking option for me anymore. 

I found a vanilla whoopie pie recipe and added almond extract in addition to the vanilla. You can easily make new ganache for this recipe (I know, ganache isn’t a lying-around-in-your-fridge staple for most people) – just equal parts chocolate and heavy cream.

The cakey part doesn’t look as puffy as perhaps it should, but they’re not actually super-dense, just dense-looking. 

Vanilla Almond Whoopie Pies
 (adapted from Annie’s Eats)
Yield: about 24-30 sandwich cookies

Cake Ingredients:
8 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
¾ cup sugar
1 large egg plus 1 large egg white
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
2¼ cups all-purpose flour
1½ tsp. baking powder
¾ tsp. salt
½ cup milk

Ganache Ingredients:
4 oz dark chocolate
4 oz heavy cream

Cream Cheese Frosting Ingredients:
4 oz cream cheese (1/2 block)
4 oz butter (1/2 stick)
2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons milk (as needed)


To make the cookies, preheat the oven to 350˚ F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.  In the bowl of an electric mixer combine the butter and sugar.  Beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes.  Blend in the egg and egg white, scraping down the bowl between additions.  Blend in the vanilla and almond extract.  In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt; whisk to blend.  With the mixer on low speed, beat in half of the dry ingredients, mixing just until incorporated.  Mix in the milk.  Beat in the remaining dry ingredients, just until incorporated.

Use a medium-sized spoon to scoop rounded spoonfuls onto the sheets. (I did about 2 tablespoon-sized scoops). Bake 10-12 minutes, just until set.  Let cool on the pan at least 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the ganache:
In a small saucepan heat the cream on medium heat until hot but not boiling. Pour cream over dark chocolate and let sit for 3 minutes. Stir until smooth, then cool for 10 minutes until it’s a spreadable consistency.

To make the frosting:
Use a hand mixer to blend all the ingredients. Add milk as needed until it reaches a spreadable consistency (but not too thin! You don’t want all the frosting to ooze out the sides). 

To assemble the whoopie pies:
Match your cookies in pairs by size.  
Spread the ganache in a thin layer on the flat side of each cookie.
Pipe (or scoop) a dollop of filling onto the ganache of one cookie of each pair, and sandwich the cookies together, pushing the filling to the edges.  

Refrigerate for at least 20 minutes to set.