Berry Fever: Whoopie pies

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Man, oh man, do I love strawberries! I love them fresh from the garden, or the farm stand. I love them in ice cream, milkshakes, dipped in chocolate. I love strawberry jam, strawberry milk, and those little strawberry candies with the syrup in the center. I’d eat them on a train, with a fox, in a box, here, there, everywhere. Okay, you get the picture. So when the call came out for a whoopie pie blogfest, berry whoopies were my first thought.

PJ had the chocolate angle covered, so the chocolate/strawberry angle was out for now. I thought about adapting a vanilla whoopie cake recipe to a strawberry cake recipe using a standard vanilla filling. Pretty good, but not the over-the-top whoopie I was dreaming of.

In chatting with Molly, another baker on King Arthur’s baker’s hotline, we brainstormed many different versions.  Then I remembered a delicious treat from my childhood, and knew it was the nirvana I sought: the flaky puff. I haven’t seen them for years, but when we were younger they were everywhere. A flaky puff pastry with layers of jam and cream, individually wrapped and sold in packs of 6. My brother Mark and I could polish off a package in a matter of hours, and then sit back to enjoy the sugar rush. That was the flavor and memory I wanted to capture—without the sugar rush this time.

While I’m here, let me tell you a bit about my brother Mark. He was born in November 1965; I was born in October 1967, so we were pretty close growing up. I thought Mark was the coolest guy on the planet. He drove a converted US Postal Service jeep; was the first person I ever knew who bought a CD (James Taylor); and he was the first person I really baked with. We’d make batches of cookie dough or brownies, eat half the batter, then bake the rest, feeling slightly ill. He nicknamed me “Bozo” (“Boz” for short), but it was a term of affection. (At least that’s what I choose to believe!)

Mark and my husband, David, were also good friends growing up, and we all had great times together. Our family often visited David’s family in New Hampshire on the 4th of July. The parents would stay home and we teens would play a round of mini golf at Twinkle Town,  then climb Mt. Monadnock and watch the fireworks, looking down from the top of the mountain onto the surrounding towns. Getting back down in the dark was always an adventure!

One year Mark decided to carry a rock from the parking lot to the top of the mountain. We all thought he would leave the rock at the top; kind of “change the world.” Nope, he carried the same rock back down the mountain and placed it back in the exact same spot. He felt the rock had never been anywhere in its life and now it had had a journey. I still think about that rock sometimes. How we pass something or someone, never knowing all the journeys they may have experienced in their lives, because we can’t see inside of them.

We haven’t gotten together in a few years, we lead pretty different lives, in different states. I catch up on Mark’s family news when I see my folks, but I miss those special times growing up. So I’m dedicating these Berry Cream Whoopie Pies to Mark—with love, from Boz.

Let’s start with the batter for the cakes.

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Place the shortening and sugar in the bowl of the mixer.

Just a quick word on shortening vs. butter in this recipe. While butter does have terrific flavor in baked goods, it has a lower melting point and will cause the cakes to spread more. Shortening will remain solid longer, giving the cakes a chance to rise and begin to set before it melts, resulting in a puffier, higher cake.

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Here is the batter with the shortening and sugar creamed, and the liquids added. Not very attractive, but perfectly normal. Don’t worry, go ahead and add the eggs.

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Still not very pretty, but beginning to look the right color. On to the dry ingredients. Please, trust me, it’s going to be fine in a minute.

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See, the batter is just fine after adding the dry ingredients. I think the Bakewell Cream really gives this batter extra loft, making for a nicely domed Whoopie.

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Having chatted with another baker about Whoopies recently, she said her recipe called for a 10 minute rest to thicken the batter before baking. As you can see, the batter on the far left is straight after mixing, the middle batter is after a 5 minute rest and the far right is after 8 minutes. But, how will they bake up? Stay tuned.

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Whoopie pies don’t spread as much as they puff, so space them about 2″ apart on your baking pan.

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Umm, did I say they won’t spread? Actually, this was an older test version, but I thought you would get a kick out of another test kitchen “whoops.”

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This is how the real recipe bakes up. Plump and domed, with a nice flat bottom. (We should all be so lucky!)

Setting aside the cakes to cool, let’s work on the filling.

This filling is a classic whoopie pie filling with a Marshmallow Fluff base, much like PJ uses in her Chocolate Whoopies. Measuring marshmallow is always a pain in the rump roast, with sticky cups, fingers, counters. However, using a scale makes the process so much easier. Here’s how:

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After placing your bowl on  your scale, hit the tare button (bottom right in the photo). This will zero out the weight of the bowl, leaving you at zero again.

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Blob in the Marshmallow Fluff. We’re shooting for 4 ounces, and Fluff is pretty light stuff, so you can start with a fairly large blob.

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Hmm, just over half of what we need. Add a bit more Fluff at a time until you reach…

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4 ounces exactly. No sticky fingers, no messy measures, only one spoon to clean. What a treat!

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After the Fluff, the rest of the ingredients can be measured in the same way. Just be sure you hit tare between each ingredient. Whip the mixture on medium-high for 3-5 minutes, until light and fluffy. Be sure to scrape the bowl well every few minutes, to prevent the Fluff and shortening from sticking.

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To assemble, spread a layer of berry jam (small surprise, I chose strawberry) on one half of a cooled cake. A cookie scoop makes a neat and easy way to portion filling on the other half.
I started with a muffin-sized scoop, but soon switched to a tablespoon size. Even for filling lovers, it was a bit excessive, as you can see.

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If you really want to bump up the berries, you can add fresh blueberries or strawberries before adding the top cake. These berries are the last of summer ’08 berries from my freezer. I love the red, white, and blue combo, perfect for the 4th of July.

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I’m ready for my close up, Mr. DeMille.

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Remember back at the beginning, when we looked at the three batters after 0, 5, and 8 minutes? Here’s how they baked up. The cake on the left is straight after mixing, while the cake on the right is after the batter had sat for 5 minutes. Neither is wrong, but just know if you like your cakes a little puffier, bake right away, if you like a little spread with a bit of a crisper edge, then you can let the batter sit a bit.

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Second to strawberries, I love raspberry. This pretty pink pie version has raspberry jam, and the filling has been tinted with a few drops of food coloring and a dash of raspberry flavor. Aren’t you just dyin’ to swipe up that drip of jam with your finger?!

Not to be punny, but enjoy the fruits of your labors, and make a few Berry Cream Whoopies today. Mark, if you read this give me a call. I think I still have your James Taylor CD.

Please (bake) rate and review this recipe Berry Whoopie Pies.

MaryJane Robbins
About

MaryJane Robbins grew up in Massachusetts and moved to Vermont 20 years ago. After teaching young children for 15 years, she changed careers and joined King Arthur Flour in 2005. MaryJane began working on King Arthur Flour's baker’s hotline in 2006, and the blog team ...

comments

  1. Mike T.

    Mmmm, I’m thinking this would be great with chocolate whoopies and mint filling at Christmastime… The above is perfect for Independence Day tho, like you said, Red, White & Blue!

    Also, if you really want a sugar rush… top it with vanilla ice cream and some chocolate sauce…. Mmmm, almost a banana spit, everything but the banana… Hmmm, banana flavoring in the cake might work… :)

    HI Mike,
    Stay tuned for Susan’s blog tomorrow, she has got the BEST banana whoopies coming up. I do like the banana split idea though. Too bad the family is whoopied out at this point. Maybe by the time you come to visit in July, we’ll be ready to WHOOP it up again. (sorry, couldn’t resist! ) ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  2. Elyse

    These whoopie pies look awesome! I love the combo of jam and fluff for the filling. So delicious! I might just have to make some of these today.
    Hi Elyse,
    Be sure to make plenty, they are sure to be a big hit! ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  3. Kimberly D

    These look yummy. Does the cream filling and berry jam go all over when you bite down into it? I know this sounds silly but even though it looks yummy I don’t like that when it happens. And could you use the filling for frosting? Maybe make it a little bit more spreadable?

    Kimberly – To lessen the possibility of oozing jam, use jam that is fairly thick or try mixing some jam in with the icing. You will still have the berry flavor. Also, avoid over baking your batter so the cake part remains soft. You could try using the filling as a frosting. Add some liquid (milk, cream) to lighten the texture if you need it to be more spreadable. Elisabeth @ KAF

    Reply
  4. AJ

    These sound great! However I don’t have any Bakewell
    Cream and won’t be able to get any for a while…is there
    something else I can substitute or is there and alternate
    recipe for the cake part?

    AJ – You could use some cream of tartar in place of the Bakewell Cream. Elisabeth @ KAF

    Reply
  5. Kathleen

    These look so yummy and I love the idea of the berries. Strawberries have been reasonably priced where I live but blueberries and raspberries, which I also love, have been priced out of reach but what a great new way to use strawberries. Thank you for another great recipe and some new ideas.
    Hi Kathleen,
    So sorry to hear you can’t get fresh blueberries locally. You could do a ‘reverse’ and use blueberry jam and fresh strawberries. This would still give you a fresh, pretty treat in red, white and blue. Happy Baking! ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  6. Candace

    Mary Jane, I have two pot-luck reunions to bake for this summer, back to back. I am not around much of the summer, and if it’s really hot won’t want to bake when I return for the parties. Do any of these many Whoopie Pie recipes freeze well enough so I could make the cookie part now and just fill them Aug 1? I don’t think freezing the filling is probably a great idea, but could be wrong on that. Not interested in the banana ones, but any of the others. Also, is there a recipe for a creamy peanut butter filling for classic chocolate Whoopies? Thanks.
    Hi Candace,
    You certainly can freeze the whoopie cakes and fill them as you need them. I know Susan froze a whole filled whoopie to take photos of, but for best taste and texture, freeze the cakes and make the filling later.

    I’ve never made a creamy PB filling for Whoopies, but you could try adding 1/2 cup or so of peanut butter to the basic Whoopie filling. Adjust the sugar to your liking. Anyone else have a recipe? ~MaryJane

    Reply
  7. Julia

    Using a scale to measure out ingredients is a great time saver but my
    Salter scale reads in fractional ounces, not decimal ounces. I can kind
    of guesstimate a conversion (er, 8.8 ounces is a tad more than
    8 3/4 ounces…) but gee, do you folks in the test kitchen have these
    number conversion conflicts when writing recipes???

    I’ve never seen an Eklund scale; is it a commercial brand (vs. a home
    kitchen brand)?

    Hi Julia,
    You betcha I have those conversion “headaches”. Andrea is much better at math and conversions with I am, plus she works mostly in grams and has a nice big chart posted at her station, so color me green.
    As for the scale, I inherited it with my station in the kitchen. I’m not sure if it a model we used to sell, or if it is strictly a pro model. I’ll have to ask Sue and get back to you on that one. ~ MaryJane

    We sold the Eklund briefly, long ago – it is indeed a foodservice model, not generally available to the public. I stick with the Salter – no conversions needed! PJH

    Reply
  8. Laurie

    I grew up in New Hampshire and also have fond memories of climbing Mt. Monadnock and eating Whoopie Pies. Now I live in Maryland and good Whoopie Pies are hard to come by. I appreciate the whoopie pie recipies from KAF so that I can always make them myself when I get homesick. I like the chocolate ones best, but these look great for summer. Thanks!

    Reply
  9. Karen

    I grew up in the SF bay area & have never heard of a whoopie pie but it sure looks tasty. I will try it this week end. Karen

    Reply
  10. Marcie

    I’m from the opposite coast, which may account for my perspective. The three WP recipes look yummy. However, (and you can call me nuts)the shortening-based filling concept grosses me out. I get the idea that it’s akin to the filling in Oreos, Twinkies, Devil Dogs, etc., and that anything else wouldn’t be authentic. But–sorry–would love an alternative.
    On the other hand, I don’t have the same issue with buttercream. Could a Swiss or French buttercream filling be substituted? And, if they’re going to be served within a couple of hours, what about flavored whipped cream, using a stabilizer?
    Thank you for your time! : ) Your sauggestions would work if they whoopie pies would be served right away. Mary @ KAF

    Reply
  11. Monica

    I don’t know what I like more…The Berry Whoopie Pies or your touching story of baking with your brother, Mark. They were equally sweet.
    Thanks for all the great things you teach us in the “Baker’s Banter.”
    Thanks Monica, what a nice thing to say. Mark really is a character “famed in song and story”. Happy Baking! ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  12. Candy

    I tried this recipe out recently and it worked fantastically! I didn’t let my batter set; aesthetically, I like the puffier looking cakes. I did variate this recipe, however; instead of a plain vanilla cake I added blueberries to the cake mixture and used a plain filling for them. What a hit! I did try the recipe with the jams/preserves thing… I didn’t care for it, but that’s my humble opinion. Great recipe, keep ‘em coming!

    Reply

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