Pros: WONDERFUL results; fantastic mix-and-match ideas
Cons: One or two small mistakes—but the recipes are simple enough that if you know your way around a kitchen, you can figure them out
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Whoopie pies (also called “gobs” in some places) are one of those things I was familiar with growing up, since I lived in the northeastern US. They look like ice cream sandwiches, only traditionally the cookies are actually chocolate cake, and the filling is marshmallow. It’s one of those decadent, bad-for-you childhood treats that can become so much more in the hands of a creative cook.
In Whoopie Pies: Dozens of Mix ‘em, Match ‘em, Eat ‘em Up Recipes, Sarah Billingsley and Amy Treadwell give us a gourmet take on whoopie pies—without sacrificing any of the decadence or childlike delight!
The book starts off with fun facts about whoopie pies, an explanation for those who have no idea what they are (since I live in the Mid-Atlantic now, I had to explain them to my friends here), some information to help you make them easily, and storage info. (My favorite part is the tips on freezing whoopie pies, since these things are deadly—I prefer to have one or two, then store the rest to take along when I visit friends!)
The authors listed the cake recipes and the filling recipes separately, which frankly is genius. They include several pages early on that provide suggested mix-and-match combinations, but it’s also easy to come up with your own. You can stick with “The Purist” of course—a classic chocolate whoopie and classic marshmallow filling. It would be pretty silly, however, to buy a whole cookbook just for one recipe, so you might as well try, say, the Lemon Triple Threat—lemon whoopie cakes, lemon curd, and a lemon mascarpone filling. These are so good that the friends I shared them with were making orgasmic noises over them, and telling each other, “oh, no, you wouldn’t like those. Don’t try them,” in the attempt to save more for themselves!
A “Bee’s Knees” whoopie pie fills marble whoopie cakes with a honey buttercream filling (since I’m not fond of shortening, which gives the marshmallow fillings their requisite stiff texture, I prefer the buttercream fillings), and it’s suggested that we roll the edges in chocolate sprinkles for decoration. There’s a “Mochaccino” that fills mocha whoopies with whipped chocolate ganache filling and a classic buttercream. If you really want to get wild for the kids, “The Grover” takes vanilla whoopies, fills them with blue-dyed buttercream, and dusts the tops with blue Pixy Stix candy! One of my favorites, however—yes, even better than the lemon—involves oatmeal cakes filled with a maple-bacon filling. YUM! Just don’t let the oatmeal and bacon tempt you into thinking it can be breakfast, as there’s enough sugar in that filling to knock you flat.
Recipes range from kid-friendly to sophisticated, familiar to strange. The book even includes a savory recipe, a gluten-free recipe, and a vegan recipe. Many of the recipes come with beautiful photos, even though you really don’t need more than a few to get the idea. The recipes are quite simple, and require only basic kitchen skills—which is a good thing, since we did find at least one mistake (the lemon whoopie cakes never tell you when to add the dry ingredients—but if you’re at all familiar with baking, you’ll be able to figure this out, and of course you can check nearby recipes even if you aren’t since they’re so similar). While the recipes do recommend using a stand mixer for convenience’s sake, you can certainly use a hand mixer if you don’t have one and they’ll come out fine.
Even better, since the recipes in here are so simple, I can’t imagine that you won’t come out of it wanting to experiment with your own flavors and combinations!