Behind the Apron: Whoopie Pies

I think I’m drawn to the whoopie pie because of it’s controversial past (or, equally likely, the significant chocolate content). This recipe, and millions of others, have been circulating the U.S. for ages. Also known as black moons or black and whites, they claim to be from Maine, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania all at the same time. With my mother’s family holding down the New England side, and our family living for 2 decades in Pennsylvania, I feel like it’s my duty to report on these cakes… and to bake them. Whether they came from the Amish or from the New Englanders, let’s be real .. they’re delicious.

It’s important to note that I was motivated to make these during our Homecoming Week preparations at school. There is no other excuse for the violently blue filling I chose to use, as a nod to our school colors (and Cookie Monster). What I am sorry about it is that I did not get a photo of our university President sampling one, with a bright blue line down his tongue. My marketing materials would have changed in an instant.

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Black Moons (or Whoopie Pies) – recipe courtesy of Phyllis Raynowska

1/2 C shortening               1 C sugar
1 egg                                    1 tsp vanilla
2 C flour                             1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking soda       1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 C cocoa                        about 1 C milk

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Cream shortening and sugar together. Beat in egg and vanilla. Mix dry ingredients together and add to shortening / sugar mix. Add milk and mix well. Drop by teaspoon* or tablespoon onto greased cookie sheet**. Bake 7 minutes. (A word of warning: the batter is addictive .. I slipped into a “one for you, one for me” batch and was high as a kite halfway through. Woo!)

Paste: 2 1/2 Tbsp flour and 1/2 C milk. Cook on low heat until thick, stirring frequently so it doesn’t catch.
Cream: 1/4 C butter, 1/2 C shortening, 1 tsp vanilla. Add cooled paste to cream mix & beat til smooth.

Makes 26-28 pies (52-54 single sides – the fun is in the matching up while adding the filling, particularly if you’re OCD like me .. you will begin to be very serious about your spoonfuls).

* Teaspoon or tablespoon dilemma. These will expand quite a bit, so start small and adjust from there.
** Greased cookie sheet can be subbed for parchment paper, my weapon of choice.
*** I doubled the filling for a thicker layer between the cakes. There are myriad variations for filling, some with shortening, some with cream cheese and confectioners sugar. Likewise you can get creative with the cake – pumpkin, zucchini, red velvet. This is a more traditional choice, from my grandmother’s kitchen to yours!


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