Whoopie pies were a childhood staple growing up in Maine. These sandwich cookies were essentially miniature chocolate cakes filled with gooey marshmallow filling. You could make them at home as my best friend’s mother did but my favorite were the ones sold on the counters of neighborhood general stores. This was back in the days before 7-11s and Cumberland Farms (a very Maine store) took the place of small family run general stores. The best whoopie pies were always locally made, tightly wrapped in plastic wrap and stacked high by the cash register waiting to be bought with a hard earned quarter. (I’m dating myself here).
Since I left Maine I have never been able to find a whoopie pie that tastes quite as good as those from my childhood. This recipe, adapted from Williams Sonoma, however, is a decidedly more sophisticated take on my childhood favorite. Gone is the overly sweet gooey filling and in its place is a creamy peanut butter one. The cookies are still soft but the addition of espresso powder to the dark cocoa powder makes the flavors pop. Purists may argue that these aren’t whoopie pies but if that is the case I dare say they are even better than the original.
For the cookies:
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened dark cocoa powder
1 teaspoon espresso powder
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
For the peanut butter filling:
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- In a large bowl using an electric mixer set on high speed, beat the butter until it is fluffy and pale yellow.
- Add the sugar and beat until incorporated.
- Add in the the eggs and vanilla and beat until well blended.
- Sift the flour, cocoa, espresso powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt into a small bowl.
- Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and beat on low speed just until blended.
- Cover and refrigerate the dough until firm, about 2 hours.
- Preheat an oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
- With dampened hands, shape the dough into 3/4-inch balls and place them about 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets.
- Using a spatula or the bottom of a measuring cup, press down on each ball to flatten it slightly.
- Bake until the cookies are firm to the touch, 10 to 12 minutes.
- Transfer the cookies to wire racks and let cool completely.
- Meanwhile, make the peanut butter filling: In a large bowl, beat the butter, confectioners’ sugar, peanut butter and vanilla until blended and smooth.
- Cover and refrigerate until the cookies are cool.
- To assemble the cookies, spread the flat side of half of the cookies with 1 1/2 tsp. of the peanut butter filling.
- Top with a second cookie, flat side down, pressing lightly to make a cookie sandwich, and serve.
Yields 36 whoopie pies