Chocolate Whoopie Pies:
1 3/4 cups (230 grams) all purpose flour
3/4 cup (75 grams) Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (170 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup (150 grams) granulated white sugar
1 large egg, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup (60 ml) buttermilk
1/2 cup (120 ml) lukewarm strong coffee or !/2 cup (120 ml) lukewarm water
1/4 cup (55 grams) vegetable shortening
1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) (55 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup (115 grams) confectioners' (powdered or icing) sugar, sifted
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup (120 ml) light corn syrup
For Chocolate Cookies: Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) and place oven rack in the center of the oven. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a large bowl sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
In the bowl of your electric mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment (can also use a hand mixer), beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg beating well. Beat in the vanilla extract. In a small measuring cup, mix the buttermilk and coffee (or water). With the mixer on low speed, alternately add the flour mixture and buttermilk/coffee mixture, in three additions, beginning and ending with the flour. Drop heaping tablespoons (can also use a small ice cream scoop) of the batter onto the prepared baking sheets, spacing about 2 inches (5 cm) apart. With moistened fingers or with the back of a spoon, smooth the tops of the cookies.
Bake for about 9 - 10 minutes or until the tops of the cookies, when lightly pressed, spring back. Remove from oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Filling: Beat the shortening and butter until soft and creamy. With the mixer on its lowest speed, gradually beat in the confectioners' sugar. Increase the speed to high, and beat until light and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes. Then, with the mixer on low speed, beat in the vanilla extract and slowly drizzle in the corn syrup. Continue to beat until the filling looks like soft mayonnaise.
To Assemble: Take one cookie and spread a heaping tablespoon of the filling on the flat side of the cookie. Top with another cookie.
The assembled cookies can be stored, covered, in the refrigerator for several days. Serve cold or at room temperature.
Makes about 15 sandwich cookies.
Whoopie Pies have seen a bit of a resurgence in recent years. This might be due to the popularity of cupcakes, since Whoopie Pies are really a cupcake in sandwich cookie form. They come in many flavors, but the classic seems to be these Chocolate Whoopie Pies which combine two soft and moist, dome shaped chocolate cookies with a creamy vanilla flavored filling. What's nice is that they can be stored for up to a week in the refrigerator and you can enjoy them cold or at room temperature.
Chocolate Whoopie Pies have two parts; the cookie and the filling. The chocolate cookies are often described as a Devil's Food Cake in cookie form. The addition of buttermilk and coffee (can use water) to the batter helps to contribute to their moist sponge cake-like texture. (You can buy buttermilk or buttermilk powder or you can make your own buttermilk by stirring 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar into 1 cup (240 ml) milk. Let stand at room temperature for about ten minutes before using.) Their dark chocolate color and flavor comes from adding unsweetened cocoa powder and my preference is to use Dutch-processed cocoa powder. I like its mild and delicate chocolate flavor, but you could use regular unsweetened cocoa powder if you like. Once the cookies are baked and cooled, I like to fill them with a creamy vanilla frosting and this recipe comes from Wayne Harley Brachman's book "American Desserts". This frosting has a nice vanilla flavor with a wonderfully soft and creamy texture (like marshmallow cream) which comes from the addition of shortening and corn syrup. (However, if you prefer not to use shortening, replace it with an equal amount of butter.)
Just in case you haven't read the head note for the Pumpkin Whoopie Pies, I will tell you a little about the Whoopie Pie's history. The debate is ongoing, but they have their origins in either the Amish country of Pennsylvania or in New England. Nancy Baggett in her book "The All-American Cookie Book" gives an excellent account of their history. She tells us that they can be traced back to the depression era and the Berwick Cake Company of Boston was the first to start making them commercially (around 1926). Although we may never know who or how someone came up with these delicious cookies, the story is that one day a creative cook had leftover cake batter and decided to make large round cookies with it. When they turned out, the cook was heard to say "Whoopie!" "Pies.". If you are wondering why they are called "Pies", it is because cakes were once baked in pie tins, so the two names often became interchangeable.