In July, I took a trip to Portland, Maine with my mum. One of my goals while I was there was to find my favorite whoopie pie. Being from the midwest, whoopies are something I was unfamiliar with until I moved east. They’re decidedly a northeastern phenomenon and the Mainers are particularly serious about them. Since they’re essentially inside-out cupcakes, and totally adorable, I was won over quickly. Over the 5 days I was in Maine, I tried bunches of different whoopies of all different sizes and flavors. The one from Two Fat Cats (below, left) was fabulous, but my ultimate favorite was the little whoopie from Cranberry Island Kitchens (below, right).
The Cranberry Island Kitchen’s whoopie pies were dense and chocolatey with an intensely creamy vanilla-y filling. My mum and I tried to figure out the filling, which we thought was probably just a really badass butter cream. As it turns out, it is a buttercream….with marshmallow fluff whipped in. Dude, I can’t even remember the last time I had fluff-this was obviously going to happen. I found the actual recipe for the Cranberry Island Kitchen Whoopie on MarthaStewart.com (god bless you Martha).
Most whoopie pie recipes don’t call for any special equipment; they just require you to dollop the batter onto parchment and pop ’em in the oven. Much to my chagrin, this recipe called for a muffin top pan. What? Those exist? Since a muffin top pan seemed so specialized, and my New York kitchen just doesn’t have the space for every single-use kitchen gadget I may covet, I decided to use a madeleine pan. This, I reasoned, would have multiple uses (well, at least two) and seemed much less frivolous…until I saw the price. Muffin top pan it was! I also tried a couple other methods: on a cookie sheet lined with parchment (standard method) and using the bottom of a large muffin tin. The cookie sheet method was a big fat FAIL; this batter is just too runny and I ended up with (delicious) chocolate pancakes. The big muffin tin, on the other hand, totally works-just be sure to cut way back on the amount of batter or your whoopies will be extremely tall.
Final verdict: This recipe is a winner. The cakes are incredibly tender and the icing fluffy and smooth. Yes, these are sweet…there’s fluff in them, so they should be…but I find the filling is balanced well by the not too sweet, super-chocolatey cake. Icing anything in my hot apartment is always an adventure (read: impossible) and since these cakes are so tender and the icing is butter-based, I had a few casualties. See the tips below so that this doesn’t happen to you; you’ll want every last whoopie intact.
Classic Whoopie Pies
Recipe from Cranberry Island Whoopie Pies via Marthastewart.com
A few tips: 1) These cakes are RIDIC. tender, so make sure you’ve let them bake for the full time and have let them cool completely before filling-otherwise you’re risking disintegration. 2)The filling is butter-based, so if it’s hot in your kitchen, as it is in mine, don’t be afraid to chill it before filling the pies. 3) After you top the bottom cake with filling, I would suggest popping it in the fridge for a mo’ in order to let the filling set and avoid over-squishing (technical term) when you add the top cake.
For the Cakes:
1/2 c. (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened (I used salted, it was cool)
2 c. granulated sugar
1/2 t. salt
2 large eggs
1 1/2 t. pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 t. baking soda
1 c. buttermilk
1 3/4 c. all-purpose flour
3/4 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 c. boiling water
- Set oven to 350° F and butter two 4-inch muffin top pans or large muffin tins. Line each muffin cup with parchment paper and then butter the parchment
- Cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer until fluffy
- Add salt, eggs, and vanilla to the creamed butter and sugar, and beat until just integrated
- In another bowl, mix together the buttermilk and baking soda
- Alternate adding the flour and the buttermilk to the mixer on medium speed; start and end with the flour
- Whisk the cocoa powder and boiling water together in a medium bowl until smooth. This will look delicious and taste terrible- I knew this and yet I tried, sigh
- Add the chocolate to the batter and mix until just combined
- If using the muffin top pan, fill each muffin cup with a heaping 1/4 cup batter. If using a large muffin tin, reduce this by about half
- Bake 15-20 minutes, rotating half way through if your oven bakes unevenly
- Let cool completely
- Place a heaping 1/4 cup filling (see recipe below) on the bottom side of half of the muffin tops.
- If it seems a bit warm in your place, refrigerate for a few minutes
- Top each with a second muffin top
For the vanilla filling
1 c. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 c. sifted confectioners’ sugar (sift, then measure!)
1 jar (7 1/2 ounces) marshmallow Fluff
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- With an electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy, about 3 minutes
- Add the marshmallow fluff and vanilla; mix until incorporated
**These are best straight out of the fridge. Store them between parchment or wrapped in plastic wrap to prevent sticking**