|That's what you get for makin' whoopie (pies) - Photo by Wasabi Prime|
This post originated around St. Patrick's Day. Of this year, amazingly. Sometimes my posts can take a while to finally make it onto the blog. A friend shared this deliciously boozy looking recipe on Facebook around the time Irish eyes were smiling -- Baking With Whiskey's Chocolate Guiness Whoopie Pies (with Baileys buttercream filling). You're thinking: Genius. I was thinking the same. While it's an adaptation of Smitten Kitchen's original cupcake recipe, Baking With Whiskey did their own spin, transforming cupcake into whoopie pie. I further adapted it by using a porter style beer instead of Guiness (it was what I had, and the roasted notes are nice with the cocoa), and instead of Baileys, I made a whiskey-infused buttercream and salted caramel sauce to make these whoopie pies a sugary, sticky, delicious mess. Frankly, the caramel sauce, while nice, is skippable, mostly because it's a drippy mess. The whiskey buttercream, however, was the true delight -- sure, you can use Baileys, but having the smoky, honey-ed, complex notes from just a wee bit of good Scotch sends that buttercream over the moon. I'll post my adaptation of an already-adapted recipe below.
|Gluten-filled chocolate whoopie pies with whiskey-filled buttercream - Photos by Wasabi Prime|
So... on the topic of gluten-free baking... before you cringe, applaud, beat your computer with a baseball bat, let me say I have no issues with gluten, my digestive tract is thankfully hale and hearty, HOWEVER, I do have friends who have some gluten issues. Nothing as serious as Celiac, but let's say if they ate a big pile of pancakes, their insides would stage a coup on their social plans for the next 12-24 hours. From a personal education standpoint, I think it's good to learn how to cook/bake GF. Mostly to get to know all the different flours out there -- and there's a LOT.
Wasabi's Cliff's Notes on GF flours is as follows:
- Cornmeal, coconut flour, almond flour are coarse, dense and hard to work with on their own; they add good texture and protein to a flour mixture, but I'm not a fan of using 100% of any of those, your dough will feel like crumbly sand.
- Rice flour is a nice, inexpensive filler that adds lightness as well as moisture to a dough, so just get tons of that stuff.
- Tapioca starch is great for making GF pastas, it adds elasticity. For baked goods, buying a bag of xanthan gum is a good idea, as it will give that elasticity that gluten provides to dough.
- You can mix your own all-purpose flour if you like, or just buy a pre-mixed flour, like Bob's Red Mill, which will have that just-right ratio of light to heavier flours. A lot of those AP GF flours are a mixture of tapioca starch, rice flour, coconut and/or garbanzo flour, sorghum, and the xanthan gum may or may not already be included -- some people have a hard time digesting xanthan gum, so don't always assume it's in the mix.
- Having baking powder and baking soda is something all pantries should have, but especially for GF baking, that chemical reaction will give your GF dough all the CO2-bubbly, aerated action it needs to keep your cake or cookie from being a solid, lead weight. I also add a heaping teaspoon of baking soda into GF pasta doughs, like gnocchi, to lighten the dumpling while it boils, which keeps it from turning into a stone.
My adaptation of the recipe includes these changes: I swap one cup of the AP GF flour with pure rice flour (for a lighter and moist crumb), I add strong coffee to the hot water, I cut the mayonnaise back a little and add two eggs, and I have a heavier hand with the vanilla extract. I know, you're wondering: why mayonnaise? Dairy can often cause an immune reaction with people who also suffer from Celiac, so you'll see a lot of GF recipes minus things like butter or cream. The mayo in this recipe acts as a fat and a binder (don't worry, you can't taste it), but I like the richness of eggs, so that's why my version has both. If you wanted to make this into whoopie pie shapes, the eggs help with consistency for easy drop-cookie shapes when you're forming the mini pies, so I think this recipe is a safe bet for makin' GF whoopie. NOTE: you'll see this is for a chocolate cake, infused with coffee, not beer like in the whoopie pie recipe -- given beer's reliance on wheat, I felt the coffee would add the extra "hmm... interesting" flavor, minus the gluten, but if you or your guests aren't that gluten-sensitive, by all means, beer it up.
Basic GF Chocolate/Coffee Cake (adapted from AllRecipes.com)
(makes one two-layer cake with 9-inch cake pans, or can be made into cupcakes or whoopie pies)
2 cups GF all-purpose flour
1 cup rice flour
2 cups white sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 1/4 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1 cup mayonnaise
2 whole eggs
1 cup hot water
1/2 cup strong-brewed coffee
2 tsp vanilla extract
Coat two 9-inch cake pans with nonstick cooking spray -- place parchment rounds on the bottom for extra-easy cake removal. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Sift the dry ingredients (flours, sugar, cocoa, baking powder/soda, salt, xanthan gum) into a bowl and then add the wet ingredients (mayo, eggs, hot water/coffee, vanilla), stirring until fully combined. It will have a thick, elastic consistency.
Divide the batter equally into the greased cake pans, smoothing surface until level and tapping the bottoms hard against the counter to release any trapped air. Place in the preheated oven and bake for 25-30 minutes, rotating halfway through and use a toothpick to check for doneness. Allow the cakes to fully cool before icing. It's fine to bake the cakes a day or two in advance.
Chocolate Porter Whoopie Pies with Whiskey Buttercream Filling (adapted from Baking With Whiskey, who adapted theirs from Smitten Kitchen)
(depending on how large you make your whoopie pies, makes up to a little more than a dozen total)
Ingredients for whoopie pies:
2 1/2 AP flour (yes, with gluten)
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups sugar
1 bottle of porter or stout beer, simmered and reduced by half, to a little over a cup's worth
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened to room temperature
2/3 cup sour cream
Ingredients for whiskey buttercream: (this will make just enough for filling the pies; doubling the recipe will probably be enough to ice a cake)
3 cups confectioner's sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) of butter
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1-2 tablespoons or more of whole milk or cream
1 oz (about a shot) of good Scotch whiskey (I like Yamazaki 12 for a sweet, honeyed flavor; use a peaty Islay for more smoky flavor)
To prepare the whoopie pies: make the beer reduction first, since it will take a bit of time. Pour a whole bottle of stout or porter into a saucepan and heat to a low boil and lower to a simmer, so that it can start reducing. When it's down by half and the heat is set to medium low, add the butter and cocoa powder, whisking to combine. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Layer two baking sheets with Silpat or parchment paper.
Sift the dry ingredients (flour, cocoa, baking soda, salt, sugar) together into another bowl and slowly add the beer/butter/cocoa mixture. Stir to combine and then add the eggs and sour cream, mixing until the batter has a smooth consistency.
Use an ice cream scoop or a small measuring cup to carefully pour the whoopie pies onto the prepared baking sheets. The batter should be pourable, but not runny. If it seems too loose, let it sit for a few minutes to thicken before forming the pies. Make sure you're pouring even numbers, since it will require two halves to make a single pie.
Bake trays in the oven for 10-13 minutes, or until done. Allow to cool fully before filling with buttercream.
To prepare the buttercream:
Using a stand or hand mixer, use the whisk attachment and begin whisking the softened butter until fluffy. Carefully add in the confectioner's sugar. When it starts to resemble a thick paste, add the vanilla extract, whiskey, and a tablespoon of milk/cream. Add more milk/cream to loosen the buttercream's consistency to something easily spreadable. If it's too loose, add more confectioner's sugar to thicken.
To assemble the whoopie pies, sandwich a healthy dollop of whiskey buttercream between two pie halves and stuff into your gaping whoopie pie-hole and ENJOY.
P.S. - this is how the GF chocolate cake with whiskey buttercream layers and a cocoa buttercream frosting turned out. Good stuff, yo!