After much nagging from my workmates, I’ve finally gotten around to baking Whoopie Pies. WTF are Whoopie Pies, I hear you ask? Well, basically, they’re cupcakes, but with the icing in the middle rather than on the top. Awesome idea, right? Really stupid name though…

Anyway, one of my workmates stumbled upon these American “delicacies” in a British newspaper, and rather than bake them herself, she started emailing me recipes, as subtle hints that I should cook up a batch. After much searching, I found a recipe that sounded pretty good, so I promised to bring some in on Monday.

I stole the recipe from Piece of Cake blog, but the icing looked too damn complicated for a Sunday night, so I made a meringue buttercream icing from this site, which gives step-by-step instructions.

Whoopie Pie cakes

55g dark chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
2 tablespoons canola oil
25g unsalted butter, cool room temperature
1 cup sifted plain flour (sift first, then measure)
3 tablespoon sifted unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 200°C.

Melt chocolate in the microwave, stirring every 30 secs or so until it’s nice and runny, then let it cool.

Beat the brown sugar, egg, oil and butter for about 5 minutes, until it becomes smooth and paler in color. Beat in the melted chocolate.

In another bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the egg mixture in three additions on low speed, alternating with the buttermilk, beating just until each addition begins to disappear into the batter, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Using an ice cream scoop (this is totally the fun part), portion the batter onto two baking trays, with a reasonable amount of space between  each scoop – you should get 12 or 13 scoops in total.

Bake each tray separately for around 10 minutes, until the centre of the cakes spring back when touched. Leave on a rack to cool completely.

Meringue Buttercream Icing

3 egg whites
1/2 cup sugar
150g butter, softened (cube the butter and blitz in the microwave at 7 seconds shots on high power to speed up the process. It is important that the butter be very soft but not melting.
1/2 tsp vanilla

Set up a saucepan and bowl double boiler. Whisk the sugar and egg whites together in the bowl, and once the water has reached a steady simmer, place the bowl over the water. Whisk constantly for around 4 minutes, until the egg white is warm to the touch (don’t leave it too long, or the whites will start to set).

Take the bowl off the heat, and use an electric beater to whip the eggs until they reach a stiff peak (think meringues here). Slowly beat in the soft butter, a tablespoon-full at a time. Keep beating until it’s all combined and the icing is thick and fluffy (I don’t think I whipped quite long enough, as the icing started to melt and split a little as I was icing the cakes).

At this point, don’t make the mistake that I did – make sure you unplug the electric beater before you start licking the icing off! I was halfway finished when I noticed, and had horrible visions of the beaters turning on while my tongue was caught in it!

Scoop the icing into a piping bag (or, in the fancy world of my kitchen, a Glad Bag with the corner cut off :)), and pipe onto the bottom of one of the cakes. Sandwich together with another cake, and enjoy the awesomeness that is a Whoopie Pie. For dinner if need be. I did :)

I also discovered that I had almost 2/3 of the icing left over. What to do in such a terrible situation? Bake more cupcakes, of course! Especially as there are many more people at work that need to be bribed to do what I want!

And what kind of cupcakes does one bake for a bunch of fractious editors on a Monday morning? Well, if your me, you bake mini coffee cupcakes – mini for the cute factor, and coffee for the caffeine factor.

Mini Coffee Cupcakes

Recipe adapted from Baking Bites. These are actually more muffiny than cupcakey, which is probably why they worked – I’m a cupcake failure :(

1 1/3 cups plain flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
55g butter, room temperature
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon instant coffee, dissolved in 2 tablespoons boiling water

Preaheat oven to around 170°. Line a 24-hole mini-muffin tin (or a 12-hole mini-muffin tin and a 6-hole normal muffin tin).

Sift flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt together in a small bowl.

In another bowl, beat the butter and sugar together – you won’t be able to cream it, because there’s not enough butter – then add buttermilk, egg, vanilla and coffee (this isn’t how the original recipe went, but I didn’t actually read the recipe properly and it still worked out ok, so I’m gonna go with the easiest method – mine!).

Beat until smooth, then beat in the dry ingredients in a couple of batches.

Divide evenly between cupcake cases, and bake for 12 minutes for mini cupcakes, and 18 minutes for normal sized, until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.

Cool completely before icing.

And voila, I am destined to be popular: