A New Recipe That Seems Awfully Familiar: Zingerman's Whoopie Pies

Recently, I had a disappointing experience with the chocolate whoopie pie recipe from Baked Explorations. But just a couple of days later, I noticed that the online version of the New York Times had a slideshow of Valentine's Day desserts, and one of them was a whoopie pie recipe adapted from Zingerman's Bakehouse. I have a distinct memory of seeing this recipe and reading the accompanying article when they were published in 2009, but for the life of me, I'm not sure why I didn't try the recipe back then. It must have escaped my attention that the recipe is from Zingerman's. I have the greatest respect for the Zingerman's empire, and when I saw the recipe again in the slideshow, I knew I had to give it a try.

You can put together the batter in just a few minutes. You cream together room temperature butter and brown sugar, add an egg and vanilla, and then alternately add buttermilk and the dry ingredients (flour, cocoa, baking soda, salt). The batter was nice and thick and kept its shape when scooped (the recipe says to scoop out 1/4 cup mounds of batter, but I didn't want to make enormous pies, so I used a #24 scoop, and I was able to get 12 smaller pies that were 3.5 inches in diameter).

The cakes baked up into nice little domes that I consider to be the ideal whoopie pie shape. The cakes were tender, chocolately, and very moist -- Tom tried one and said it was at least twice as good as the chocolate cake from the Baked Explorations whoopie pie. I absolutely agree; this cake was perfect. It tasted awfully familiar, so I shouldn't have been surprised when I checked it against my standard whoopie pie recipe from epicurious, it turns out that the cake recipes are identical.

The filling is a swiss buttercream made from egg whites, sugar, butter, vanilla, and salt. The filling is almost identical to the filling for the Baked Explorations whoopie pies. (I should mention, however, that although the Zingerman's recipe says to whisk and heat the egg whites and sugar in a double boiler to 180 degrees, I only took them to about 165 degrees; that is high enough for food safety purposes, and I could smell the egg whites starting to cook and didn't want to risk heating them any further.)

So I guess the Zingerman's whoopie pie recipe isn't new to me after all, but simply a new combination of different chocolate cake and filling recipes that I've tried separately before. I can't decide if I like the buttercream filling or the marshmallow filling (the epicurious recipe has a marshmallow filling) better with these pies -- both are good. But I definitely know which cake recipe I'm sticking with!

Recipe: "Whoopie Pies," adapted from Zingerman's Bakehouse, printed in the March 18, 2009 New York Times.

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Sally said…
After reading this post, my daughter I made these on Friday - we used a 1.5 T scoop and got 15 pies - next time I'd make them even smaller as I kind of only wanted to eat 1/2. We LOVED them. We used the SMB for 1/2 the filling, and a salted caramel filling from Sally's Baking Addiction for the other half. Loved both. How would you amp up the chocolate flavor in the pies?
Oh, salted caramel filling sounds so delicious! To boost the chocolate flavor, I think adding a little instant espresso powder would help. Also, you could try dissolving the cocoa powder in some boiling water first, but adding more liquid would undoubtedly require some other adjustments to the recipe (Rose Levy Beranbaum dissolves cocoa powder in boiling water to maximize the chocolate flavor in her cake recipes - you can read a brief explanation of why this works here).