Tuesday, March 13, 2012

petite lemon whoopie pies

I made lemon whoopie pies for my youngest daughter's 1st birthday. I wanted to create an old-fashioned dessert menu to go along with her cupcakes and birthday cake.  

Whoopie pies are not only nostalgic, but they're a charming dessert with so many intriguing variations . . . including gingerbread with a maple cream cheese filling! Yum!

While researching this sweet treat, I learned a lot of interesting information . . .

Whoopie pies are considered a New England phenomenon 
and a Pennsylvania Amish tradition.
They're one of Maine's best known and loved comfort foods.
These treats are more like a cake than a pie or a cookie.
The recipe has it's origins with the Amish. 
Around 1930 Amish women first made the wonderful treats from leftover cake batter.
According to food historians, Amish women would bake these
and put them in the children's lunch bags.
When children would find these treats in their
lunch bags, they would shout "Whoopie!"
An Amish Whoopie Pie recipe was published in
a New England cookbook in the early 1930's.

I researched several recipes, and chose to follow one that uses butter, instead of shortening; and although they are traditionally generously sized, I chose to make mine petite!  
I also researched fillings . . .
The "traditional" whoopie pie filling is whipped marshmallow, but since I  wanted a filling with more flavor, I chose a lemon mascarpone recipe. My guests enjoyed the filling, but I felt it was too sweet for my taste. 
So . . . back to the drawing board in search of a different filling . . . and I found one!

I taste-tested a wonderful creamy, not-too-sweet filling that I prefer! It's a lemon mascarpone CREAM filling. Yum! 

If you have the time, try both ~ and you be the judge of which one you prefer. 

So here ya go . . .  

  A few tips . . .

For the perfect whoopie pie cake,
pipe your desired size circle of batter onto a silpat 
or parchment paper using a ziplock or pastry bag.
Pipe them all the same size for uniformity.
Dampen your finger before tapping down any peaks that form.
You can make the cake part of the whoopie pie 
up to 2 days in advance, and store them in an airtight container.
Do not overlap them! They are quite moist 
and will stick to the other cakes
You can spread the filling on the whoopie cake using a knife, 
or you can pipe the filling using a ziplock or pastry bag. 
I use a star tip for a "prettier" presentation.
Sprinkle with confectioners sugar for a finishing touch.

lemon whoopie pie cake ingredients
(a Martha Stewart recipe)
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature
1 cup, plus 3 tablespoons light-brown sugar
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 large egg
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1 cup whole milk

Preheat oven to 350.
In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter, 1 cup brown sugar, and lemon zest until light and creamy. Add vanilla and egg and beat to combine, scraping down bowl as needed.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. With mixer on low, beat in flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with milk and ending with flour mixture (scrape bowl as needed). Beat well to combine.
Drop batter in 2-tablespoon mounds, about 2 inches apart, onto two parchment-lined baking sheets. 
Bake until puffed and pale golden around edges, 17 to 19 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through. Let cakes cool completely on sheets on wire racks.

filling OPTION 1
lemon mascarpone filling ingredients
3 cups confectioners sugar
1/2 cup mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
4 tablespoons butter, room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon extract
2 teaspoon grated lemon zest

Sift confectioners sugar onto a sheet of parchment paper.
In the work bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat together the mascarpone and butter.
Add the sugar on low speed, Increase the speed to medium and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes.
Add the lemon extract and zest, and beat until combined.

filling OPTION 2
lemon mascarpone CREAM filling ingredients
2 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
7 tablespoons sugar
1 pound mascarpone
1 cup lemon curd

Place the cream and sugar in a bowl and whip to soft peaks. Refrigerate. Place the mascarpone and one cup of the lemon curd in a bowl and stir until blended—it should be the consistency of pudding. Gently fold in the whipped cream until the mixture is homogeneous and thick. 
If the mixture becomes overworked, it will look grainy or separated. If this happens, stir in several tablespoons of cream with a rubber spatula—stir just until the mixture has smoothed out again.

Bon Appetit!


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