Last week my boyfriend J and I celebrated seven years together. Seven years! Naturally part of my gift to him is to cook an irresistible meal and an even more irresistible dessert. But what was I to make? For the one person who has tasted nearly everything I’ve ever made, it had to be something new. And chocolate.
J had had whoopie pies once– only once– about 3 years ago, and to this day he still talks about them. I had never made whoopie pies before, but I would never turn down a chance to try a new recipe, especially for a dessert. I found two promising recipes, one via Gourmet, and another via Epicurious. I ended up using the batter recipe from Gourmet, but since I’m a little obsessed with making everything from scratch, I modified the filling ingredients from Epicurious to make a simple vanilla version. (But the original mint filling with chocolate ganache? Will definitely try that another time.) Overall the results turned out beautifully– fluffy sweet filling hugged by two dense, chocolatey, and not-too-sweet cakes. And, most importantly, J loved them.
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1 1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup well-shaken buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 large egg
1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups plus 3 tbsp powdered sugar
1/4 cup egg whites (from about 2 large eggs)
Pinch of salt
To make the cakes: Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Whisk together flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt in a bowl until combined. Stir together buttermilk and vanilla in a small bowl.
Beat together butter and brown sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes in a standing mixer or 5 minutes with a handheld mixer, then add egg, beating until combined well. Reduce speed to low and alternately mix in flour mixture and buttermilk in batches, beginning and ending with flour, scraping down side of bowl occasionally, and mixing until smooth.
Spoon 1/4-cup mounds of batter about 2 inches apart onto 2 buttered large baking sheets. Bake in upper and lower thirds of oven, switching position of sheets halfway through baking, until tops are puffed and cakes spring back when touched, 11 to 13 minutes. Transfer with a metal spatula to a rack to cool completely.
To make filling:
Using an electric mixer, beat butter and vanilla extract in a large metal bowl until blended. Add powdered sugar, egg whites, and pinch of salt; beat until light and fluffy.
To assemble pies:
Spread a rounded tablespoon of filling on the flat sides of half of the cakes. Top with remaining cakes and enjoy!