Whoopies are becoming increasingly popular and have even threatened to take over from the much loved cupcake. While not actually being a pie or a typical cake, I can tell those who have yet to come across a whoopie, that they are two small flattish cakes that are sandwiched together with a filling. Whoopie pies are thought to have originated from the Amish communities in the US, where school children and farmers are said to have responded to finding these special treats in their lunch boxes with a resounding "Whoopie!" I'm not sure that my son said that when I gave him one recently, but I do know that he snuck into the kitchen later that evening and demolished a large number rather quietly!
As we are on the run up to Christmas, there are a lot of new cook book releases. The Whoopie Pie Book is one of these and I can tell you that is it a treat of a book. The author, Claire Ptak, came to the UK from California, where she worked as a pastry chef for Alice Waters at Chez Panisse in Berkeley. She now runs Violet, a baking company in East London, best known for American style cupcakes using organic ingredients.
Claire Ptak with some of her whoopie pies (photo courtesy of Random House)
This book has over 60 recipes, including recipes for simple whoopie pies, iced & glazed whoopie pies, topped & drizzled whoopie pies, plus frozen & chilled whoopies. There is even a chapter with some special whoopies, including Christmas, Easter and scary Halloween whoopies.
Look at the glorious photos that accompany each recipe - I have my eye on these Christmas Cake Whoopies!
I decided to make the chocolate chip whoopie pies, the recipe was easy to follow and they turned out well. I noticed that the whoopie pie recipes indicate that you need to put your oven on at the beginning of the recipe, but as the dough needs chilling for 30 minutes before baking, you can put it on a bit later. My oven only takes 6 minutes to get to the right temperature and I'm trying to be more energy aware.
The filling suggestion which accompanies each recipe is a great idea, and ranges from flavoured creams to scrumptious marshmallow fillings, although you will need a hefty freestanding mixer to make some of them. I filled mine with the simple vanilla bean cream, not having said mixer.
So, if you were in any doubt about whoopies, now you know!
This book would make a great Christmas present for anyone who loves baking and wants to expand their baking repertoire to include something a little bit different.
Vanilla Bean Cream
Recipe by Claire Ptak from The Whoopie Pie Book
Makes enough to fill about 9 large or 24 mini whoopie pies.
400ml double cream
2 tablespoons caster sugar
Scraped seeds of ½ vanilla pod
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Put all the ingredients into a large bowl and whisk with an electric hand mixer until the mixture starts to thicken.
Taste the cream to see how sweet it is, you may need to add a little more sugar, depending on the whoopie pies and how sweet they already are.
Chill the cream until ready to use. It will keep for 3 days in a sealed container in the fridge, but may need a bit more whipping before use.
The book can be bought directly from Random House, or from Amazon.
The Whoopie Pie Book
£15.00 / Hardback, 160 pages
Publisher: Square Peg (Random House)
With thanks to Bethan at Random House
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