Tacky and Tasteful at the Same Time: Banana Whoopie Pies

Having loved the Baked Elements Oopsy Daisy Cake so much, I was eager to try other recipes from the book. I thought that the "Banana Whoopie Pies" would be perfect for an office party. Plus, the recipe is fairly straightforward (at least for a recipe from the guys at Baked) -- it doesn't require any advance planning or prolonged chilling times.

The banana cake portion of the whoopie pies is made from brown sugar, oil, sour cream, mashed bananas, eggs, flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. You can make the batter in a bowl with a spatula; no mixer is required. You drop heaping tablespoons of batter (I used a #40 scoop) onto a sheet and bake. My cakes remained rather flat while baking, which is one of my pet peeves when it comes to whoopie pies. I much prefer my whoopies to have puffy rounded domes (see, e.g., the Baked Explorations Red Velvet Whoopie Pie or Zingerman's Whoopie Pies) instead of being sad and flat (see, e.g., the Baked Explorations Chocolate Whoopie Pie).

These whoopie pies are filled with a milk chocolate Swiss meringue filling. You make a Swiss meringue by heating egg whites and sugar, whipping the mixture until fluffy, adding butter, salt, and vanilla, and folding in melted milk chocolate. It is the exact same filling used in the Baked Explorations Chocolate Whoopie Pie except for the milk chocolate folded in at the end. When I folded in the cooled melted chocolate, it did not incorporate fully and there were small specks of chocolate visible in the filling. These also clogged up the closed star decorating tip on the pastry bag I was using to fill the whoopie pies. Although I did periodically clear out the tip, the chocolate obstructions caused the filling to come out in the crazy wave pattern you can see pictured below.

I tried the banana cake alone and it was delicious. Very tender and moist, and surprisingly banana-y with a warm touch of cinnamon. I was worried there wouldn't be enough banana flavor because the amount of bananas in the recipe seemed quite low; I made a double batch with three bananas and I got 88 banana cakes, enough to make 44 assembled pies.

Fresh from the oven, the cakes had a nice firm outer crust on top, but the crust softened as the cakes cooled, such that they became sticky. I had to store the assembled whoopie pies in a single layer on a parchment-lined tray in the refrigerator to minimize the mess. Keeping the pies cold until serving helped the cakes stay intact; without the parchment paper, a bit of the upside-down cake on the bottom side of the whoopie pie would stick to the serving plate and be left behind when you picked up the pie. (Sticky cakes are another one of my pet peeves when it comes to whoopie pies -- since I usually have to pack up baked goods to take to work on the subway, I find it annoying when baked goods are difficult to stack or store.)

I didn't love the vanilla version of this Swiss meringue filling in the Baked chocolate whoopie pie, but I thought that the milk chocolate version in these banana whoopie pies was out of this world. The flavor combination and sweetness level of the banana cake together with the chocolate filling are perfect. The filling is rich, to be sure (after all, it is mostly butter!), but it is sooooo good. I didn't particularly like the way these whoopie pies looked or handled, but they might be the best tasting whoopie pies I've ever made.

Recipe: "Banana Whoopie Pies" from Baked Elements: Our 10 Favorite Ingredients, by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito.

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