As no less an authority than Jed Bartlet, one of America’s greatest, and least real, Presidents once said;
“Another sky Another June, Another something that rhymes with June, Another reason, another season For making whoopee pies.”
He may not actually have said that in actual words. But still I’ve done a dozen of these now and this is the first time one’s opened with a West Wing quote. And it’s even pertinent too! Because this week we’re going to be talking about Whoopee Pies.
And the Presidency.
Well actually no, just Whoopee Pies.
Here’s the thing, I wanted to make Marguerite something nice for Easter which wasn’t the calorific heart punch that Easter Eggs are. Seriously, and I’m not going to go off on a rant don’t worry, Easter Eggs are freakishly calorie-laden, more so even than a large hollow container both filled with and made from chocolate would appear to be. It’s like they took the chocolate and force-fed it more chocolate despite its screaming, gurgling, choking pleas as in the background a masked orderly turned ‘We’ve Only Just Begun’ by The Carpenters up louder and louder until-
I’m getting off topic.
Whoopee Pies are two small pieces of cake with a soft, creamy filling sandwiched between them. They are alternately known as Black Moon, Gobs (In Pittsburgh), Black-And-Whites, Bobs, or BFO for Big Fat Oreo. In fact whilst we’re here, let’s talk about the Oreo for a moment. Firstly, as far as I’m concerned, that’s what Maurice Day and The Time are singing in the chorus of the cheerful and delightfully Not Safe For Work, ‘Jungle Love’.
And now, so are you.
Secondly, having recently spent a couple of weeks in the US I was reminded of the various different kinds of Oreo. You can get mint filling (Think delicious sugary toothpaste), peanut butter (Think delicious peanut buttery toothpaste), fudge covered (Think an Oreo drowned in the chocolate regurgitated by the Easter Egg from further up the page) and white supremacist.
That is a Blonde Oreo. It’s got blonde biscuits and a white filling and if it was any more white it would drive an old battered VW surfer fan, wear a cravat and insist on solving mysteries with a talking dog. The thing’s weird and wrong, but, like many things that are weird and wrong, it does taste nice.
Anyway! Whoopee Pies. Which, endearingly Pennsylvania, Maine and New Hampshire (Good morning once again, Mr President) all lay claim to it as being of their design. So much so in fact that in 2011 the Maine State Legislature were looking at making it the official state pie, a move which got more bipartisan support than well, important things that don’t involve pie, I’d imagine. Whilst they eventually decided to make the Whoopee Pie the official state treat (Washington’s is presumably an expensive cocktail and getting to be in the same room as the President but not make eye contact) and Pennsylvania have taken unofficial ownership of it, the Whoopee Pie remains a quintessential American treat, delicious and fun. That made it seem the perfect choice for this Easter’s non-Easter Egg deliciousness. Victor! The suspects!
So what we’re looking at there is;
Plain white flour
The first stage is really easy; make some cake batter. Mix 75 grams of butter and 125 grams of the sugar together and then whisk it to within an inch of its life. Or for about 2 minutes, whichever happens first.
It’s usually the two minutes.
Once that’s done, take a slightly over-excited photo!
Then, add the egg and vanilla extract and whisk. Then add a half tea spoon of baking powder and whisk. Then alternate between the flour (175 grams of it) and the buttermilk (50 milliliters) by adding some, then, you guessed it, whisking. Then add the other, and whisk. Then the first again, and whisk. Then check if the squash is done.
Nope. Sisyphus’ dinner will never be ready at this rate. Then, just as you start to lose basic motor functions and are about to be able only to say the word ‘whisk’, the mixture will be ready! Ready, to be PINKENATED.
That is now a word.
You see, technically, this recipe, from the imaginatively titled We Have To Stop Crying, Jamie’s Really Never Coming Back So Let’s Make A Baking Recipe Collection by Sainsburys, calls for Red Velvet whoopee pies. But that’s not how I roll. Or bake. Or whisk. Marguerite loves pink so pink whoopee pies it shall be! And the result is this:
Yeah. Okay. I know that looks just a little bit like I bled into the bowl but trust me, I didn’t. This time. Or any other time. Definitely.
Moving on. You then…check the Squash.
God damn it.
Then you whisk again! Because it’s been ten minutes! And the result is this!
MOTION BLUR! YAAAAAAY!
Also, pink cake batter. Which is where things get really interesting. You see, I speak cake. I am pretty fluent in the language of cake truth be told and can order coffee and converse, at length, with the Barista before making my way through the streets of Old Cakey Town where guitars are gently picked, a little girl plays with her imaginary kangaroo and Joanne Hariss frantically makes notes for her next book. However, all my cakes, without exception, are tin sized. Tin sized is that sweet spot size that works out as somewhere between ‘I’ve stretched this so thin it’s really just over excited sugary bread’ and ‘RUN! CAKEZILLA WILL CONSUME US ALL!’ as something pink, fluffy and awful erupts from every surface in the kitchen. The cake will be tall and delicious and puffy, it will not resemble sugary swiss cheese nor will it attain sentience and lie around all day watching your Community DVDs. It’s a great size, and one really easy to hit because you’re just pouring cake batter into a tray and baking it.
This, required something else. This requires invention. Subtlety. Nuance.
A plastic bag..
Prepare to pipe cake batter, the redneck way.
‘MURICA! Or in this, NOTTINGHAM! Or possibly, ‘OTTINGHAM! Or NATTIN’UM! Whatever works.
Spoon the pink batter into the bag. Be prepared for this to take a while. Once it’s all in there, squidge (Technical terms galore this week, Masterchef surely awaits! Me to stop calling!) the batter down to the bottom of the bag. Then ziplock it. That bit’s really important. Then, grasp the bag firmly and basically strangle it. Get a good tight grip and slide your hand down, pushing the batter down into one corner. Do this two or three times, to the point where a possibly filthy joke about it dances on the edge of your consciousness. Then, it’ll disappear and you’ll know your bag is ready.
Cut the corner off. The corner the cake batter is in. Then, continue to chase that illusive masturbation joke and pipe the pink batter out into medallions. Sort of flat, slightly fluted, squishy medallions but medallions nonetheless. Then, pop them in the oven at about 180 degrees Celsius or, about 5.30, if your oven has had the numbers eroded off its terrifying clockwork frontage like ours has. Oh one last thing? Make sure you make an even number of the medallions. Because otherwise you have Whoopee Smorgasboards and that would just be…unsettling.
Now, with 10 minutes or so before the medallions are ready, it’s time for the icing and a return to the whisking mines. Combine 50g of cream cheese with 30g of the Mascarpone, half a teaspoon of Vanilla extract, 225 grams of icing sugar and an overwhelming sense of frustration that the BASTARD Squash is still not done. Beat it. Beat it savagely. Beat it like one of the evil officers in an episode of Sharpe shortly before they get their poetically violent comeuppance. Give in to the Dark Side! Strike it DOWN!
Or at least whip it for a while and then add the icing sugar and Vanilla extract. Beat the mixture, slowly this time, until it’s fluffy and pulls into peaks when you remove the whisk. By this time the medallions will have become cakes, so take them out, pop them on a wire rack for ten minutes and engage in the time honoured tradition of trying to inhale the whisk forks in order to get the filling off them.
Just take them off the whisk first, okay? That’s a Casualty episode that that no one wants to see.
What they do want to see though…is this.
A little toasty on the bottom but they’re a good shape, a good colour and they tasted amazing. Next time I plan on being a little more careful with the sizes and taking them out of the oven (And into our FACES) but other than that I’m really pleased with them.
What I Learned:
-Redneck cake piping is nowhere near as filthy as it sounds.
-It’s not quite as precise
-Pink food colouring looks a little like blood clots.
-They are not the same thing, and I did not get nosebleeds of pink food colouring.
-This saddens me somehow.
Next time, a complete change of pace as I embark on one of the recipes from the amazing Thug Kitchen and my sun dried tomato spread on…some bread products. Word, y’all.