Originally posted on January 14, 2013
Abby Dodge is one of the best bakers in the world. I got to know her by baking my way through her dessert stories in Fine Cooking magazine, where she began as a recipe tester eighteen years ago. Abby has a flair for combining flavors and textures in unexpected but delicious ways and her recipes are foolproof.
In her new and delightful cookbook, Mini Treats & Hand-Held Sweets: 100 Delicious Desserts to Pick Up and Eat, published last year by The Taunton Press, Abby has come up with inventive takes on all sorts of cookies, macarons, pastries, mini cakes and pies, frozen treats, and even candies.
Every month on Abby’s blog she selects a recipe and invites readers to submit their own riffs on her main theme. These baketogethers, as they’re called, unite members of the cyberspace baking community in an altogether human way, and it is fascinating to see the creativity that pours forth.
I got so excited about the baketogether idea that I plunged into Abby’s book and picked out a recipe to tweak instead of waiting for Abby’s selection. Generous soul that Abby is, she insisted I post my version of the recipe (Abby’s Orange Whoopie Pies with Orange-Honey Buttercream became, in my hands, Lemon Whoopie Pies with White Chocolate Lemon Buttercream). Whoopie pies are sandwiches of two tender cakes enclosing a soft creamy filling. The flavoring possibilities are endless and can be tailor made to individual tastes.
So what if this is a baketogether in reverse? I’ll just link my post to her blog, and she’ll link hers to mine and we’ll see what happens.
My first trial resulted in a dough that was a tad too wet and difficult to scoop into balls. When I wrote about Abby about it, she made her recipe again and even sent me photographs to show me the recipe worked just fine. Why was my dough wetter than hers? The culprit turned out to be my measuring cup! My ancient glass heatproof cup measured on the generous side. So instead of using it to measure ½ cup of buttermilk the recipe called for, I measured 8 tablespoons of buttermilk and the dough turned out exactly as it should.
And here’s the dough I scooped onto a silicone-lined baking sheet with a 2-tablespoon capacity ice cream scoop.
I decided to make my whoopies twice the size of Abby’s because I’m a tall guy who likes big things. Even so, these pies are not huge. They’re about 3 inches across and fit nicely in the hand. Here’s a sheet of the baked cakes.
To fill them, you turn half the cakes upside down and top them with a big gob of the white chocolate buttercream.
After covering the buttercream with the flat side of a partnered cake, you press gently until the buttercream reaches the edge of the cakes. All that’s left is to decorate the whoopie pies, and you’re done.
So here’s the recipe. Please let me know what you think and send me your own variations on the theme. Perhaps then we can all yell whoopee!
Lemon Whoopie Pies with White Chocolate Lemon Buttercream
Makes 12 filled whoopie pies about 3 inches in diameter
For the whoopies
2 cups (9 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon table salt
6 tablespoons (3 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup (7 ounces) granulated sugar
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure lemon extract
8 tablespoons buttermilk, at room temperature
For the filling
5 ounces white chocolate, chopped
8 tablespoons (4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup (4 ounces) confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon pure lemon extract
Pinch of table salt
For the Decoration
3 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
Make the whoopies
1. Position an oven rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F. Line three cookie sheets with parchment or nonstick baking liners.
2. Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl until well blended and no lumps remain. Put the butter, sugar, and zest in a large bowl. Beat with an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on medium speed until well blended and smooth, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until just blended between additions. Add the lemon extract with the last egg. Stop to scrape down the bowl and the beater as needed. Add half of the flour mixture and mix on low speed until just blended. Add the buttermilk and mix until just blended. Add the remaining flour mixture and mix on low speed until just blended.
3. Using a 2-tablespoon mini scoop, shape the dough into balls and arrange about 1 1/2 inches apart on the prepared cookie sheets, 8 balls to a sheet. Bake, one sheet at a time, until a pick inserted in the center of one whoopie comes out clean, 9 to 11 minutes. Move the sheet to a cooling rack, let the whoopies sit for 10 minutes, and then transfer them to a rack to cool completely.
Make the filling
White chocolate, made of cocoa butter, milk solids, sugar, and vanilla, isn’t true chocolate because it lacks cacao, the hallmark of dark chocolate. White chocolate melts at a lower temperature than dark chocolate, so you have to melt it gently. Put the white chocolate into a small metal bowl. Add about 1 inch of water to a 10-inch skillet, and set the pan over medium heat. When the water is very hot and almost at the boil, turn off the heat and set the bowl of white chocolate in the water. Stir occasionally with a heatproof rubber spatula until the chocolate is almost melted. Remove the chocolate from the water and keep stirring until the chocolate is completely melted and lump free. The chocolate needs to be at room temperature or barely tepid before use. (Keep the skillet with the water on the stove top to melt the dark chocolate for decorating the whoopie pies).
Cut the butter into pieces and add to the bowl of an electric mixer. Pass the confectioners’ sugar through a strainer into the butter. Beat with the whip attachment on very low speed until combined, then beat on medium speed 30 seconds until smooth. Beat in the lemon extract and salt. While beating on low speed, scrape in the cool melted white chocolate. When incorporated, beat about 1 minute on medium-low speed until thick and creamy. Scrape the bowl and beater. Cover the buttercream until needed.
Put the semisweet or bittersweet chocolate into a small metal bowl and set the bowl into the hot water in the skillet over low heat. Wait until the chocolate starts to melt, then stir with a small heatproof rubber spatula until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Turn off the heat but leave the bowl of melted chocolate in the hot water.
Assemble the whoopie pies
Turn half of the cooled whoopies over so they are flat side up. Spoon a slightly rounded 2 tablespoons of the filling onto the center of half the whoopies. Top with the remaining whoopies, flat side down. Press gently on each sandwich to spread the filling almost to the edge.
You’ll need a small pastry bag with a small opening to pipe the chocolate onto the assembled whoopee pies for decoration. Add the warm chocolate to the bag and pipe a zigzag pattern over each whoopee pie.
Whoopies can be served when the chocolate decoration has set. Refrigerate briefly for faster setting. Whoopies are best when served slightly chilled. Store, refrigerated, in a covered container for up to 2 days.
Makes 12 medium-sized whoopie pies.