July 1, 2010

IMPORTING THE SUPERIOR CULTURE:

Whoopie pies becoming a West Coast sensation (STACY FINZ, SAN FRANSISCO CHRONICLE)

Not too long ago I was eating at Bruno's in San Francisco with a couple of pals. For dessert we ordered whoopie pies. None of us really knew what a whoopie pie was, but the name sounded too fun to pass up.

"I'm pretty sure it's like a moon pie and it's Southern," I said, showing how clearly misinformed I was.

Pretty soon I started seeing them everywhere in the Bay Area: on restaurant menus, in bakery cases and on grocery store shelves. I wondered, "Could this be the new cupcake (for some bizarre reason food writers are always trying to usurp the cupcake)?" Later, I found out that whoopie pies are actually a New England treat - a hamburger-size cookie sandwich, where the cookie is cake-y rather than crisp, and the filling is light and moist. It may or may not have originated from Pennsylvania Amish country. But how had they migrated West, and why now?

My brother lives in New England, so I gave him a call. "What's up with this whole whoopie pie thing?"

"Look, it was bound to happen," he replied. "We already brought you our chowder, our baked beans, our lobster and cod."

I shot back, "Why am I even asking you? You're a television sportscaster who wears makeup and would eat dirt if it was sprinkled with sugar," and hung up. [...]

Lark Creek Steak's Red Velvet Whoopie Pies

Makes 15 pies

Lark Creek Steak pastry chef Jodi Bourassa makes a from-scratch marshmallow filling for her Red Velvet Whoopie Pies. Both the filling and the cake batter can be made ahead, but the cakes should be assembled the day they are baked. The filling takes a bit of work; you can substitute the Easy Classic Whoopie Pie Filling, if you like.

Marshmallow filling
# 1 1/2 ounces egg whites (about 1 1/2 large egg whites, or 3 tablespoons)
# 1 cup light corn syrup
# 3 cups powdered sugar
# 12 ounces (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
# 1 vanilla bean
# 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
# 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Red Velvet cake
# 2 cups all-purpose flour
# 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
# 1 teaspoon baking soda
# 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
# 1 cup buttermilk
# 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
# 2 tablespoons red food coloring
# 1 large egg
# 1/3 cup canola or vegetable oil
# 1 cup granulated sugar

For the filling: Whisk egg whites and corn syrup in the bowl of a standing mixer until incorporated. Place the bowl over a hot water bath and stir with a spatula, scraping the sides, until the fluff mixture reaches 165°. Remove bowl from the water bath and beat the fluff with whisk attachment at high speed for about 10 minutes, until the mixture looks like melted marshmallows.

Sift the powdered sugar into a separate bowl; add 1 cup of powdered sugar, a spoonful at a time, to the fluff while mixing on low speed with a paddle attachment, until sugar is fully incorporated. Using a rubber spatula, scrape the mixture into a separate bowl and set aside.

Place the softened butter in the stand mixer bowl. Cut vanilla bean open lengthwise; carefully scrape out the tiny, small black seeds into the butter. Add the vanilla extract and salt, and beat with the paddle attachment until evenly distributed. Paddle in the remaining 2 cups sifted powdered sugar, then the fluff. The filling can be made and refrigerated up to a week ahead. Bring to room temperature before assembling.

For the cake: Preheat the oven to 350°. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt; set aside. In a separate bowl or measuring cup, combine buttermilk, vanilla extract and food coloring; set aside.

Combine the egg, oil and sugar in the mixing bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat at high speed until light in color, about 1 minute. On low speed, add 1/3 of the flour mixture, followed by half of the buttermilk mixture. Repeat, ending with the last third of the flour. When thoroughly mixed, remove the bowl from the mixer and scrape once more with a spatula to ensure everything is evenly distributed. If made ahead, refrigerate; bring to room temperature before baking.

When ready to bake, use a 1-ounce scoop to portion 2 tablespoons batter onto the baking sheet. Bake, rotating the sheet halfway through, until cake springs back when lightly touched, about 10 minutes. Remove the cakes to a wire rack; cool completely.

To assemble: Once cakes have cooled completely, pipe or spread about 1 tablespoon marshmallow filling onto the bottom side of half the cakes. Top with the remaining cakes (flat side against the filling) to make the sandwiches.

Posted by Orrin Judd at July 1, 2010 5:52 AM
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