This article in the New York Times got me thinking about Whoopie Pies again. I hadn't given much thought to the Whoopie Pie since a week-long trip to Maine last summer, where the highlight of my day was a drive to a nearby farm where I'd pick up just-picked produce and just-baked Whoopie Pies, those chocolately little cakes filled with oozy buttercream.
So I started to wonder: are there any good Whoopie Pie recipes out there for those of us who don't do the gluten or the potato or the corn? I did a quick perusal of the web and found a few recipes, but none of them made the cut. If it wasn't the ingredients, it was the photograph accompanying the recipe. I wanted to make something that looked and tasted great, not something that looked like a rock and was merely adequate.
Before I started on my own recipe, I decided to take a tour of the wheaten Whoopie Pie world, including the New York Times recipe. I eventually tried a Menonite recipe which worked well, so I decided to base my gluten-free recipe on it. After a few tweaks here and there, I came up with a formula that worked for me. I tried a version using Guar Gum (which is derived from a legume) and it had nice rise and didn't spread too much. The version I made without gum also worked well, was a little more tender, but spead out considerably.
A quick explanation of my flour choices for first timers to Cake & Commerce: in my gluten-free cooking and baking, I do not ever use potato, corn, or sorghum flour. I don't use potato because I don't like the flavor; I don't use corn because it makes me ill; I don't use sorghum because even though it is fairly versatile, wet-cooked sorghum (baking etc) does not eliminate two proteins in sorghum that people cannot easily digest - the results will catch up with you in 8 hours (fermentation makes it easier to digest). I use rice flour sparingly and only in certain applications - in baked goods in large quantities it is usually too grainy. I do not use pre-made baking mixes. Ever.
So I tend to use a lot of LIGHT buckwheat and tapioca in my baking. Sometimes I use certified gluten-free oat flour, but the flavor is pretty strong so its uses are limited. Lately I've been playing with whole ground Teff Flour (the basis for Ethopian Injera fermented bread) and have liked the result. I also like arrowroot as a thickener and garbanzo flour - but only in small quantities. I never use quinoa flour because of its strong aftertaste. This post shows what happened when I used it. without any understanding of its strong flavor.
Cake & Commerce's Whoopie Pies
Makes approximately 12 filled Pies
- 4 oz (1 stick) butter
- 1 Cup Sugar
- 1 Egg + 1 Egg yolk
- 1 C Buttermilk
- 1 t Vanilla extract
- 2 t guar gum (optional - if you don't use it, your pies will spread out more)
- 3/4 t Salt
- 1-1/2 t Baking Powder
- 1/2 t Baking Soda
- 1/4 C + 2 T Tapioca flour
- 1-1/2 C light buckwheat flour
- 1/2 C Cocoa
- 1/2 C Almond flour (as fresh as possible - grind your own if possible)
- 2 T Rice Flour
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Sift all dry ingredients together.
Mix sugar and butter until fluffy. Add eggs and mix until combined. Alternate additions of dry ingredients and wet ingredients, until everything is in the mixing bowl. Mix briefly, until all ingredients are evenly and thoroughly combined. Make sure dough is fairly firm - it should not be wet or gooey at all.
It should look like this. If it doesn't add a little more flour.
Using an ice cream scoop (I use a smaller size - remember, it spreads!), scoop out balls of dough onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Make sure there is space for the cookie to spread. Here's what it will look like in the oven when the cookies are done baking:
Bake for about 10-15 minutes or until a toothpick comes out dry or the top of the cookie does not retain a mark when touched with your finger. I prefer the pies a little more fudgy and less dry, so if you want a slightly more fudgy cake, pull it out of the oven before the top feels hard.
Allow to cool completely before icing. When ready to ice, use a pastry bag fitted with a star tip or a round tip to create a pretty pattern or just spread a dollop of icing on the cookie with an offset spatula or anything handy you happen to have around your kitchen.
When you are done, if you wrap the whoopie pie in plastic, it will start softening up. In my opinion, Whoopie Pies taste best when they are softer after they've sat in plastic for a day.
Basic Vanilla Filling for Chocolate Whoopie Pies
Yield: enough to ice your Whoopie Pies and your cupcakes, if you have them. So halve the recipe if you don't have an overwhelming need for a surplus of icing.
- 8 oz Butter (2 sticks)
- 6-8 C Confectioners Sugar
- 1/2 C Buttermilk
- 1/2 t salt (dissolve in buttermilk, if possible)
- 1-2 t vanilla extract (depending on how much vanilla flavor you want)
Combine butter and 4 cups of the confectioners sugar and mix until it resembles corn meal. If it combines completely, that's okay. Add the buttermilk with the salt and the vanilla. Mix until completely incorporated. Add 2 more cups of confectioners sugar. Mix again. If the mixture is still wet, add another cup or two of sugar. When it is spreadable but holds its shape, it is done.
For chocolate icing, I use the icing recipe here
By the way, after I made this batch, I tasted the cake side-by-side with the full-gluten recipe. It wasn't quite the same, but with a healthy dollop of icing, the two were nearly indistinguishable. My mom ate nearly half of one before she realized it was gluten-free and kept eating it even after learning that. I found myself unable to stop eating the cake once I started. It was rather gluttonous of me. Is it any surprise I've gone up a size this winter?
And you can see the results in this video: