I lie in bed at night and think about food. (It’s a shock, really, that I have any kids at all, between that habit and this blog. You’d think I’d have developed a George Costanza-esque association with food by now.) Every day some idea sneaks into my head, or I get a craving that I can’t shake, or read about something I want to try, or I remember something I haven’t made in a really, really long time, like these Whoopie Pies, which are as close to homemade Jos Louis cakes as you can get. (Except for the dipped in chocolate part – it would require a helluva lot of chocolate.)
Something or other triggered a memory of these, which then rattled around my brainpan for a week or so before I gave in and baked the cookies last night with the intention of bringing them along to a barbecue that I knew would have a dozen or so kids in attendance. As is my style I ran out of time to make the frosting, and we left the just-baked cookies sitting on the counter as we ran out the door.
So this morning we finished them, and when I wondered aloud what we might do with a dozen small burger-sized whoopie pies W suggested we bring some to the big boys who live up the hill; who are only the coolest boys ever, with cool toys and rock star wii and water pistols and lizards and cool hair and a brand new trampoline in the back yard. I think he’s coming up with excuses to go over to their house now. Like, the sun is up, can we go to the boys’ house? What are the boys doing now? and now? how about now? can we go over there now? Silver lining: he thinks school must be the funnest place ever and is desperate to go because that’s where the boys always seem to be.
So we went up the hill and ditched all but three of these, which we then ate for lunch. (Dinner was far less exciting – mediocre blueberry-bran muffins, thawed soup, brown rice, a bowl of blueberries for W.)
These big, cakey cookies are sandwiched with fluffy Seven Minute Frosting or jarred marshmallow cream, or frozen and made into ice cream sandwiches with vanilla ice cream. It’s a good opportunity to marry chocolate and mint – just spike the fluffy frosting with mint extract. (They’re low fat, too!)
3 Tbsp. butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour (or half all-purpose, half whole wheat)
1/2 cup cocoa
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup chocolate chips (optional)
1 batch Seven Minute Frosting (below)
or 1 jar Marshmallow Cream
Preheat oven to 375°F.
In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar for a minute or so, until well combined. It will have the consistency of wet sand. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until smooth.
In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, cocoa and salt. In a small bowl, stir the baking soda into 1/2 cup very hot water until dissolved.
With the mixer on low or stirring by hand, add about a third of the dry ingredients, then half the buttermilk and half the baking soda mixture, mixing each time just until blended. Repeat with another third of the dry ingredients, the rest of the buttermilk and baking soda mixture, and then the rest of the dry ingredients, mixing each time just until combined. Stir in the chocolate chips. The batter will be quite wet, almost like cake batter. (You want them to be cakey and soft, so that the filling doesn’t squish out the end when you bite into it.)
Drop large, round spoonfuls of batter 2” apart on a cookie sheet that has been sprayed with nonstick spray. (If you’re making pies, try to keep the mounds similar in size and shape so they will make even sandwiches). Bake for 12–15 minutes, until the tops no longer appear wet and just spring back when lightly touched. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
When completely cool, spread the bottom of one cookie with frosting or marshmallow cream, then sandwich with a second cookie. Repeat with remaining cookies and cream. Store extras individually wrapped in plastic wrap.
Makes 1 dozen pies or 2 dozen cookies.
Seven Minute Frosting
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 Tbsp. light or golden corn syrup or honey
1/3 cup water
2 large egg whites
1 tsp. vanilla, coconut, maple, mint, or other flavored extract
In the top of a double boiler or in a clean stainless steel bowl set over a pot of simmering water, combine the sugar, corn syrup, water, and egg whites. Make sure the simmering water doesn’t touch the bottom of the bowl or double boiler – you only need an inch or two of water in the pot. Beat the sugar mixture with an electric mixer on high speed for about 7 minutes, until it stands in billowy peaks. Remove it from the heat and beat in the vanilla.
To make Seafoam (Brown Sugar) Frosting: Substitute packed dark or golden brown sugar for the white sugar.
Also: a plea. What the hell do I do with this? (ooh, a two-hell post. Now three-hell! Now four!)
Someone gave it to my Dad, who passed it on to me. It’s about the size of half a pound of butter, and labeled “pure maple cream” on the box, but it appears to have completely petrified. It in no way resembles cream. It’s like a solid block of maple sugar. I suppose I could attempt to grate it and use it like maple sugar – any other brilliant ideas?