If you knew how hard I had to try not to call this entry ‘Making Whoopie’, you’d give me a medal.
I am completely in love with the Hummingbird Bakery Cake Days book. It’s not just that absolutely everything in there looks wonderful. It’s the way the recipes are written, the helpfulness and friendliness of them. It makes you want to have a go, and I love that.
Rather pointlessly, I gave Timothy the choice of what I baked last week – pointless because I included a chocolate-and-peanut-butter option, so his decision was a foregone conclusion. And so we embarked on the chocolate and peanut butter whoopie pies, my first foray into whoopie land.
A whoopie pie, in case you don’t know, is marshmallowy filling sandwiched between two spongy cookies. Marshmallow fluff is a scarce commodity here, but after a bit of hunting I tracked some down at Waitrose. The sponges are made from fairly standard ingredients, the only unusual additions being plain yoghurt and both bicarbonate of soda and baking powder, which I suppose is what makes them rise so much.
The sponges, then. As a word of warning, this recipe is much, much easier if you have an electric whisk. It would be possible to do without, I think, but you might not have an arm left by the end. Wet ingredients and sugar go together first. Whisk, whisk, whisk. Then dry ingredients are sifted in, a little at a time. Whisk, whisk, whisk. By the time the last of the flour went in, the chocolate batter was the consistency of play-dough and the whisk was groaning through it like car wheels in a swamp. Last of all you add the peanut butter, IF YOU ARE FOOLISH ENOUGH (more about this in a minute).
The dough – it really is dough, rather than batter – goes into the fridge to set for half an hour, during which you preheat the oven and line baking trays with parchment. The cold mixture goes on the trays in dollops, and they go in the oven for about ten minutes. I would smooth them out with your fingers or a spatula as much as you can, since they rise almost exactly in the shape you left them. Once out, mine were huge and craggy, like chocolate rock cakes, and not really at all like the photo in the book.
Next, the filling, which looked like a quick enough job. Whisk butter and icing sugar together until combined, said the recipe. I got out my electric whisk and plunged it in, then ended up inhaling so much icing sugar I was coughing it out in clouds. So I tried my other, not so vigorous, electric whisk. Now it was coating the kitchen walls. So I got out a wooden spoon, which was so ineffectual I ended up using my hands. Much better, though infernally sticky. Once your mixture is combined, you add the whole tub of marshmallow fluff, whisk it in, and stick the bowl in the fridge for another half hour.
Finally, the assembly: two sponges, a spoonful of sugar(y filling) and a good squish together.
All in all, I thought, admiringly, they didn’t look half bad. Then I had a taste.
Dear reader, these whoopies are an abomination. Filled with a startling chalky dryness that explodes in your mouth, and not either very chocolatey or peanuty. I wondered whether I’d put them in the oven for too long, or added too much baking powder. Then I got it: it’s the peanut butter. The sponges take on the exact, mealy texture of peanut butter in your mouth, but without inheriting much of the nutty taste. The abominable whoopie. What a terrible shame.
(we still ate them all.)
Deliciousness: The marshmallow made up for a lot of things – it’s smooth and sugary enough to combat much of the dryness – but oh oh, these could’ve been SO much better. I still haven’t ruled out the (strong) possibility that I did something wrong, but I’m going to try them again without the peanut butter and see what it does. Timothy was a fan, of course. He ate the rest of the marshmallow filling – a not inconsiderable amount – on a single slice of toast. Yes, what?!
Complexity: Not bad at all, really. The electric whisk made things a lot easier.
Washing-up pile: A couple of bowls, a couple of trays, and many, many whisk attachments.
Casualties: My injured pride, mostly.