A sweet sandwich kids assemble themselves: Chocolate Whoopie Pies
Cooking is personalisation. Baking is personalising a formula. I had never eaten a Whoopie Pie, neither had my tasters — twenty Japanese high school students. The ingredients we have to work with are a bit different from the snacks American origin: Flour is unbleached, butter has more water, eggs are smaller, shortening is only ever an import and our ovens are convection.
I found four recipes to try, such as this one and each spread into a puddle — a good example of how ingredients in one part world yield different results in another.
Notice the colour above and below. Baking soda reacts with acid lowering the temperature sugars (including milk) brown. The above has white chocolate milk, those in the four small photos below have no acid.
Sugar needs water to dissolve. When sugar is perfectly dissolved, the texture is smooth. When part is un-dissolved, the cookie is craggy with edges and bottoms that brown providing flavour.
In the end, I found the following formula worked for me. The cookie is cake-like, moist, just sweet enough and has a pretty surface texture. By cutting the batter into quarters I was able to add inclusions such as nuts, white chocolate, cocoa nibs, coconut to personalise each batch. I brought cookies, frappe, caramel, tuile, marshmallow to school and watched my kids approach the table with curiosity. They had fun spreading and putting unlike things together and when I make Whoopie Pies again that is how I will present them, as a sweet sandwich kids assemble themselves.
Tier one (you must use)
- 500 grams flour, aprox 4 cups (bread flour will yield thicker chewier cookies, cake flour softer with more spread, all-purpose is between the two)
- 93 grams cocoa, aprox 1 cup
- 400 grams white sugar, apron 2 cups (The more white sugar, the more it will spread; brown sugar will set the cookie shape faster, add flavour and moisture)
- 2 teaspoons baking soda (baking soda will make the surface craggy; baking powder will make the outside smoother)
- 120 grams egg, aprox 2 eggs (only whites will make taller, dryer cookies; only yolks, flatter, denser cookies)
- 3/4 – 1 cup milk (the amount varies by the flour, the egg, the butter)
- 113 grams butter, aprox 1/2 cup
- pinch of salt
Second tier (suggested)
- 1 tablespoon flavouring
- 1 vanilla bean scrapped and boiled then cooled in the milk
Third tier (optional)
- inclusions such as pecans, white or dark chocolate chips, coconut, cocoa nibs
Throughly mix all dry ingredients together and sift three times. Cut the butter into cubes and blend with dry ingredients. Beat the flavouring, eggs, and milk together until completely blended. Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour 3/4 of the wet into the dry and mix with a rubber spatula. If the dough is dry add more of the liquid. The final texture should be like drop cookie dough. Split the dough and add the inclusions. Refrigerate for at least an hour. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius (350 degrees Fahrenheit). Drop by tablespoons and bake 12 – 15 minutes. When cool, add a filling such as Orange Flower Water Frappe, creme fraiche. Adding tuile between the filling and cookie adds flavour, crunch, texture. A dollop of Dulce de Leche also adds flavour and texture.
You can make these without the cocoa by decreasing the liquid, but notice how they spread and are not as tall as the chocolate version.
When you bite into the chocolate version, it’s like biting through air. The cookie is moist, even after three days. It’s only a little sweet. The filling rounds out the sweetness and adds flavours. I want to emphasise, by having four different cookies and a selection of filling flavours to chose from, the Whoopie Pie changes bite to bite. My personal favourite was the cookie with cocoa nibs and orange water frappe. Your teeth bite through chocolate and orange air to find little bitter nuggets of intense chocolate flavour, sweetened by the filling. The kids very much liked the crunchiness from the tuile, the sweeter white chocolate inclusions, and the neutral flavour from the marshmallow filling. The next time I have a party with young people, I will be making these again.
I liked the flavour of the white version, especially with white chocolate and cocoa nibs. However, I wanted a white cookie with zero brown colour. This was going to be my White Chocolate Cookie, but to get the proper texture and height they need to brown. One day I’ll figure it out how to make a chocolate cookie without cocoa.