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Is Makin' Whoopie In Texas Over The Moon?

Whoopie Pies Whoopie Pies

by Cheryl Hill-Burrier

There were some pretty interesting inventions that came on the scene back in 1917, like the Banjulele (a combination of the banjo and ukulele), Lincoln Logs, SOS Pads, and Marshmallow Fluff. But a truly popular innovation will have a song written about it like the 1950s favorite by Texas Country Music Hall of Famer Big Bill Lister titled "Gimm'e an RC Cola and a Moon Pie."

The two southern favorites, the soda from Georgia and the MoonPie (one word), were first linked together during the Great Depression. For a nickel each, they were known as the workingman's lunch by coal miners and other hardworking folks. Of course, that was some time ago, and even though MoonPies are still as popular as ever, some of you might never have heard of them, so let me fill you in.

The original MoonPie, which to this day is considered an essential part of southern culture and history, was created at the Chattanooga Bakery in Tennessee. It consists of marshmallow fluff sandwiched between two graham cracker-type cookies, all dipped into a chocolate coating. It's in a class of its own and just a tasty, crumbly piece of heaven to eat.

In more recent years, however, there has been a Yankee comparative known as the Whoopie Pie that has migrated south of the Mason-Dixon. Despite the fact that both the Moon and Whoopie are hamburger size and have a similar makeup of two cookies or cakes with a fluffy filling, the similarity stops there. The original Black & White Whoopie came on the scene around 1920, and claims to its invention have been made by everyone from the Pennsylvania Amish and the Bostonians to the folks up in Maine. It consists of two (not very sweet) chocolate cakes with a fluffy-type vanilla filling in between. The name was reportedly coined when people yelled "whoopee" whenever they got their hands on one.

Now, even though the MoonPie has chocolate, vanilla and banana flavors, the Whoopie Pie isn't copywrited by any one manufacturer. This has allowed various bakers and bakeries to create flavors of their own like candy cane, peanut butter, pumpkin, oatmeal-chocolate chip, maple-walnut, orange- creamsicle, gingerbread, mocha, raspberry and on and on and on. In fact, there's even an annual Whoopie Pie Festival held in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, that boasts of 100 pie flavors while having fun with the confection in contests like Whoopie Checkers, Whoopie Pie eating, and more.

So, while Larry and I are dedicated MoonPie lovers (banana especially), when I started hearing Whoopie whispers going around, like any good gossip investigator I decided to check them out by reading up and doing a road test.

Oh, yeah. These pies are tasty and provide just the right amount of personal mollycoddling that everybody deserves. In fact, I made a few of the recipes to pass along to y’all, one of which is the original Black & White, and the only one that isn't sweet, but is pure Texan, Jalapeño Cornbread Whoopie Pie. But, before I do that, and just for the Official Foodie Record, although Whoopie Pies are really, really good, I'm still a devoted southerner and will never go forever over the moon to make whoopie.

General assembly of all Whoopie Pies

Spread 1/4 cup filling evenly onto the flat side of one cake. Then top with another cake, puffy-side up. Or, place filling into a baggie and cut a small hole in the corner tip; then pipe filling onto the flat side of one cake in a "C" motion from the center out to the edges, or straight lines from the center to the edges. Again, top with another cake, puffy side up. Cakes can be individually wrapped in waxed paper or plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to one week. To store in the freezer for up to six months, wrap cakes individually in plastic freezer wrap or freezer storage bags and label each with the date.

Original "Black & White" Whoopie Pie

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1-1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 egg
Using a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt. Stir in the buttermilk and vanilla extract until well-blended. In another large bowl, beat butter and brown sugar together until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat egg into mixture and blend well. Gradually beat in the dry ingredients, a little at a time, until mixture is smooth. Spoon 1/4 cup of batter 2 inches apart on greased baking sheets.

Bake in a 350°F preheated oven until tops are puffed up and spring back when lightly touched, about 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from cookie sheet and cool.

These cakes are not sweet, however, the filling is. Because the filling remains somewhat loose at room temperature, Whoopie Pies are best if served slightly frozen. Makes 16 Cakes or 8 Whoopie Pies.

Black & White Whoopie Filling

  • 1-1/2 egg whites
  • 1 cup corn syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
Using a large bowl, beat together the egg whites, corn syrup and salt until thick, about 8 minutes. Add confectioners' sugar and continue beating slowly. Beat in vanilla until well blended. This filling has a tendency to soften a great deal and leak from the pie. For best results, freeze the filling first, then make the Whoopie pies and store them in the refrigerator or, individually wrapped, in the freezer. Any remaining filling can be placed in a covered container and refrigerated for up to one week or frozen for up to one month. Makes about 2 quarts.

Pumpkin Whoopie Pie

  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cups light brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 7-1/2 ounces (one-half of a 15-ounce can) puréed pumpkin
Using a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside. In another large bowl, beat together the butter and brown sugar until fluffy. Beat eggs into the sugar mixture and add canned pumpkin purée and vanilla. Gradually beat in the dry ingredients until mixture is smooth.

Using an ice cream scoop, place about 1/4 cup of batter 2-inches apart onto greased baking sheets. Bake in a 350°F preheated oven until tops are puffed up and spring back when lightly touched, about 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from cookie sheet and cool. Makes 28 cakes or 14 Whoopie Pies.

Oatmeal-Chocolate Chip Whoopie Pie

  • 2 cups quick-cooking oatmeal
  • 2 cups light brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 cup chocolate chips
Using a large bowl, beat butter, brown sugar and eggs together until creamy. Set aside. In a separate bowl, sift flour, salt, cinnamon, baking soda and baking powder together. Gradually stir the flour mixture into the egg mixture, then add chocolate chips and blend well.

Using an ice cream scoop, place about 1/4 cup batter 2-inches apart onto greased baking sheets. Bake in a 350°F preheated oven until tops are puffed up and spring back when lightly touched, about 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from cookie sheet and cool. These are more of a cookie than a cake. Makes 24 cakes or 12 Whoopie Pies.

Filling for Pumpkin and Oatmeal-Chocolate Chip Whoopie Pies

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 3 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
In a large bowl, beat butter until light and fluffy. Slowly add sugar and salt to the butter and continue beating. Add milk, salt, and vanilla and blend well. Filling can be placed into a covered container and refrigerated for up to one week or frozen for up to one month. Use about 1/4 cup filling per Whoopie Pie. Filling is easier to work with when semi-frozen. Makes About 3 cups and will fill 12 to 14 Whoopies.

Jalapeño Cornbread Whoopie Pie

  • 1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 2 jalapeños, seeded and finely chopped
Preheat oven to 375°F, and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, cornmeal, brown sugar, baking power and salt. With an electric mixer, beat together the buttermilk, butter and egg on low speed until just combined. Increase speed to medium and beat for three more minutes. Add the flour mixture with the chopped jalapeños to the batter, and beat on low until just combined.

Drop about 2 tablespoons of batter on one of the baking sheets and repeat, spacing about 2 inches apart. Bake one sheet at a time for about 12 minutes or until the cakes begin to brown around the edges. Remove from oven the let the cakes cool in the pan for about 5 minutes before transferring to racks to cool completely.

Jalapeño Cornbread Whoopie Pie Filling

  • 6 slices bacon
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 3 tablespoons milk or heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon chopped green onions (white part only)
  • 1/2 cup sharp Cheddar cheese, finely grated
Cook the bacon until crisp. Drain and cool. When cool, crumble the bacon into small pieces.

With an electric mixer, beat together the cream cheese and milk on low speed until just combined. Increase speed to medium and beat until smooth and creamy, about 3 minutes. Add the crumbled bacon, onions and cheddar. Beat on low until combined.

Spread filling onto the flat side of one cake using a knife or spoon. Top it with another cake, flat-side down. Repeat with the rest of the cakes and filling. You can also use a pastry bag with a round tip to pipe the filling onto the cakes, which will give you a smoother, neater presentation.

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