armadillas



Of hearts and stomachs

The other day I decided I wanted to open up a bakery. Of course, this is not the first time I got such a whim up my butt and it certainly will not be the last time. I constantly waver between pursuing a career in food or a career in academia (along with careers in writing or nutrition or agriculture). This idea of a bakery was triggered by two things. The first is a book I’m currently reading, The Baker’s Apprentice by Judith Ryan Hendricks. I find it very easy to get caught up in a character’s life, to escape into fiction for a couple hours. Before you know it, I’m romanticizing driving to work late in the night, setting a playlist on my iPod long after most people have gone to bed, and digging my fingers into flour until the wee hours of the morning. I suppose the book spurred on my early morning decision to type become a baker into my search bar. That’s how I discovered bloombakeshop.com, with its quaint and simple design. After reading the owner’s story of how she left the pharmaceutical world for a world of dough and entrepreneurship, I immediately wanted to jump on the band wagon. I’m pretty sure the tantalizing pictures of whoopie pies under her menu page helped with this sudden inspiration.

With origins in the Amish/German communities of the American north east, whoopie pies are traditionally made with a chocolate cookie cake and vanilla cream filling. We all know how I feel about chocolate, so I wanted to make a pumpkin whoopie pie with a -get this- lemon cream filling. It may sound like a strange combination to some (cough cough), but you’d be surprised what flavors can fuse together. Like Chinese and Mexican. Don’t knock it!


Unfortunately, the only store within walking distance (got to get my exercise somehow!) did not carry pumpkin puree, so I had to change my game plan. On my way home, walking up and down the streets for a little added cardio, a recipe began to form in my head. Why not make a tiramisu whoopie pie? With a hint of lemon! That way there’s coffee, there’s chocolate, there’s lemon, and there’s vanilla. Everyone is happy!

So I set about doing a little research, comparing recipes I found online and in cookbooks, and eventually came up with a pretty satisfactory recipe of my own. You know, as a child I wasn’t really much of a whoopie pie sort of person. It goes back to the not caring a lot for chocolate thing. But now as an adult inclined to spend a good chunk of my time in the kitchen, I have the freedom to experiment and these little babies have been calling my name going on a week now. Fortunately, it only takes one to satisfy the craving. Otherwise I’d probably be the size of a hippo! Remember, the great thing about baking is sharing! Send your goods over to a neighbor. Maybe you even have a cute, single neighbor. You find the heart through the stomach folks! Now, my whoopies are more cakey and less cookie-like. Just so you know.

Psst…feel free to ignore my chicken scratch. We do not live in an era of penmanship. My grandmother is quite ashamed

Ingredients:

Batter

  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup instant espresso
  • 1 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup butter milk

Orange Creme

  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 8 oz cream cheese or mascarpone, softened
  • 4 tbs butter, softened too
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp orange extract
  • 1 tsp rum/Marsala (optional)

Quick tip! If you don’t have buttermilk on hand (which, who does?), it’s super easy to make. Put a tbs of lemon juice or vinegar into you measuring cup. Fill the rest with your milk. Let stand for about 5 minutes. Your milk will begin to look chunky- don’t panic!

Preheat over to 350 degrees. I always forget to do this step first. It really does save time to remember. We’re going to make the batter first. In a large bowl, cream together your butter and sugar

Once that’s done, crack in your egg and add the vanilla. Mmm I still have some homemade vanilla leftover from someone’s Nana…but I’m running low!

It won’t kill any of us to take a little taste. We’re lookin’ for a nice creamy consistency. Hey! It kinda looks like peanut butter. Eh, or smooth almond butter

In a separate bowl, combine all the dry ingredients. Mix mix mix!

By now, your milk will be nice and curdled. Not being  a professional, I don’t know if that’s really what happened between our milk and lemon juice. I’m just guessing. Definitely looks more like a divorce than a marriage, though! In an alternating fashion, pour milk and flour mixture into the batter

Look at the chunks!

Time for more tasting! I won’t tell if you don’t… Dollop batter onto a greased (or nonstick) cookie sheet with an ice cream scoop. Mine isn’t the clickedy kind. That would be most helpful in my kitchen

Bake your dollops for 10-12 minutes. Repeat until all your batter has disappeared! Let cookies/cakes/whateveryouwannacallthem cool on counter

In the meantime, we can make the orange cream filling! Originally, I was going to make a plain and simple vanilla filling. Then I got the urge to add some lemon. Addict, remember? But then I discovered some orange extract chillin’ in my spice cabinet and decided what the heck! So, take your softened cheese and butter and give them a nice little whirl with your mixer/beater in a bowl

Go ahead and add the vanilla and orange. If you have orange zest, that would be fantastic! At this point, you can go ahead and mix in your rum. All I had on hand was whiskey and wine, neither of which I felt would make a good contribution to my orange cream. No alcohol for us today. Finally, mix in your powdered sugar. Do this a little at a time if you don’t want it to suddenly cloud up into the air and get all over you

Oh boy! I think that was my favorite  part. Of course, another taste test is in order. We got this under control. No bad flavors are going to sneak into this kitchen! Put the filling into the fridge for a spell to help give it some extra body

Almost done! Now that the cookies are cool and the creme is stiff, time to assemble. We’re going to make use of our Ziplocs again. Make a piping bag and swirl the filling onto half of the cookies

Then top it off with the rest of the cookies. Ahhh! We now have a nice little cake sandwich aka a whoopie pie (black moon, gob, big fat oreo, etc)

Enjoy! And don’t be afraid to experiment with different flavors. I’m dying to make one with a mint creme! Or perhaps a vanilla cookie with a berry creme for summer. Possibilities. They never get old.

Tijuana


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