Project Wedding – Making Whoopie

I’ve been a bit remiss on the blog lately. Ok, very remiss. I’ve been doing a bit of baking but taking photos has been a bit beyond me, and I feel bad posting just words. Feel free to tell me otherwise.

I’ve been thinking about making whoopie pies for a while. While researching chocolate cupcake recipes for Project Wedding, I kept coming across whoopie pie recipes. And Pinterest is full of pictures of them. Anyway, whoopie pies are the new cupcake. They’re easier to eat, no fussing around with wrappers, and you don’t get left with that annoying bit on the bottom which has no icing left. (Can I convince you T??) Some stories say they were designed to use up leftover cake batter and icing. They’re supposed to be a bit like a cross between a cookie and a cake. The original versions I’ve seen are chocolate with fluffy vanilla icing, a bit like an Oreo.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I decided to make chocolate cakes, but with a chocolate Swiss Meringue Buttercream instead. This gives a nice creamy taste but without the extra sweetness you’d get from other frosting recipes. I used a recipe from Smitten Kitchen for the buttercream, adapted a little to reduce the amount of butter. I think the butter here in NZ has a stronger taste and I like the flavour and texture of this recipe with less of it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chocolate Whoopie Cakes
Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart

Makes 2 dozen finished sandwiched cakes (24 individual cookie/cakes)

1 3/4 cups plain flour
3/4 cup cocoa
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 tablespoon baking soda
113g butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 cup buttermilk (or 1 tablespoon lemon juice made up to 1 cup milk and left for 5 mins)
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Line baking trays with baking paper.

Sift dry ingredients into a bowl. Beat butter and sugar on a medium speed until fluffy. Add egg and beat until combined, then add vanilla. Alternate adding the dry ingredients and buttermilk, either beating on a low speed or folding in with a spoon.

Use a cookie scoop to scoop the batter onto the lined trays, and bake for about 12 mins until middles are set to the touch. Cool on a cooling rack.

Swiss Meringue Buttercream (adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

4 egg whites
1 cup sugar
250g butter, cut into cubes, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
150g dark chocolate, melted and cooled to room temperature

Heat egg whites and sugar over a pot of simmering water, whisking gently until it reaches 160degrees Fahrenheit. Beat using a whisk attachment on medium speed for 3 minutes, then beat at a high speed for another 7-10 minutes until the bowl is cool to the touch. Add vanilla. Switch to a paddle beater and slowly add the butter piece by piece, waiting until each piece is incorporated before adding the next. The meringue will deflate slightly and will possible stay a bit runny until most of the butter has been added. If the mixture looks like it’s curdling, just keep beating beating beating. Trust me. I was nearly in tears an hour before my birthday party this year, because the caramel icing I was making curdled. I just left it on the mixer, still beating and it miraculously came back together by the time I’d done my hair. Once all the butter has been incorporated, slowly add the cooled melted chocolate and beat until combined.

If you are still having problems, the hints from Smitten Kitchen and also this one from Sweetapolita are genius

This should be enough to sandwich all the cakes together. Use a piping bag and be generous with the filling.

Store the filled cakes in the fridge if you need to, but leave out for a few hours before serving to soften the icing, otherwise it might feel like you are eating solid butter.

I’m still in search for the perfect cupcake recipe, and the wedding is coming up fast. At least I know I’ve mastered the Buttercream though!!!

Project Wedding – Take One

I’ve agreed to make wedding cakes and cupcakes for a good friend who is getting married in December. The wedding is at a winery, and at the beginning of summer (the week before Christmas). The request is for cupcakes and I’ll probably make a cake to cut, and chocolate is top of the list of flavours. Decoration is still open to negotiation.

So – first on the list I need to find a good chocolate cupcake recipe. It needs to be pretty light (to be eaten after a meal in summer), moist (not too many crumbs on the dresses!), but not too delicate (needs to travel well). I also like a cake that has a bit more of a crunchy top rather than a soft spongy one (I find they hold up to handling better). There is a recipe that I’ve been using for years that came from Cupcake Bakeshop, but the last couple of times I’ve made them I have had inconsistent results (probably user error on my part!!). I’ll try that one again soon.

I saw this recipe on Sweetapolita, and seeing as I was using her recipe (and amazing tips) for Swiss Meringue Buttercream, thought it would be a good place to start.

The recipe has no butter, but uses oil to keep the cupcakes moist and pretty fluffy. I guess that would also help keeping them a bit fresher given I will be baking in advance. Not sure whether they would freeze or not (although I would rather not need to freeze but just bake the day before). They also have nice strong coffee which gives them a bit of a kick and really enrichens the chocolate flavour.

The batter was a bit runny, which made it a bit harder to get it evenly into the cases. I normally use a cookie scoop to get cupcakes even but it was a little messy and the cat had a few licks of the floor after I dripped it. If this is the recipe I go with in the end, I will need to find another way to get the batter into the cases (perhaps a squeezy bottle?). I also think I filled them a bit too much – even though I halved the recipe which should have left me with 9 cupcakes, I filled 12 and had quite a bit of batter left over. Next time will make up another tray rather than use the extra batter to fill them up a bit. They didn’t really dome up very well, rather were a bit flat and spread across the pan a bit and were harder to get out of the muffin tray, as you can see in the picture above.

I used my standard Swiss Meringue Buttercream recipe for these, as I think it will hold up to the heat better than a standard whipped butter frosting. I used 2 egg whites and ½ cup sugar, and about 150g of butter. I tend to use slightly less butter than most recipes suggest for buttercream – I think it gives a slightly less buttery taste, and doesn’t seem to affect the texture at all. Once the frosting is all whipped up, I added about half a cup of melted dark chocolate. I have yet to find a recipe for SMB that gives a really dark chocolatey colour and taste – perhaps it’s just one of the characteristics of the frosting. If I can’t get the right flavour maybe I’ll try a whipped ganache frosting.

The verdict: these cupcakes had a lovely light and moist texture, and a nice rich chocolate taste. My only worry is that they spread although that may have been my fault for filling the cases too full. Definitely one to think about.

Stay tuned for more chocolate cupcake recipe testing!!!

Dark Chocolate Cupcakes – adapted from Sweetapolita (makes 12)

1 cup plain flour
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup cocoa*
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 egg
½ cup strong black coffee (I make mine in a stovetop coffee maker, but a strong instant coffee would work as well)
½ cup milk**
¼ cup vegetable oil (I use rice bran, but any light, flavourless oil would do)
½ teaspoon vanilla extract***

Preheat your oven to 180°C (350°F). Line a muffin tray with cupcake cases.
Whisk flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a bowl. In a separate bowl or jug, whisk the wet ingredients together, then add to the dry ingredients and whisk for a few minutes until combined.
Fill the cupcake cases about ½ full (not more like I did!) and bake for between 12-15 minutes (although mine took about 18 mins).
Cool on a tray. When cool, ice with Swiss Meringue Buttercream frosting as above.

*Don’t even bother using Bourneville or Cadbury cocoa. When I can stretch my budget, I try and buy Valrhona cocoa (available from Sabato amongst other places), but the Equagold range is available at all my local New World stores and does the trick just as well. It’s definitely worth getting a good quality cocoa – your baking will thank you.

**The original recipe stated buttermilk, but that’s not very common here in NZ and I was too lazy to make my own, would be interesting to see what difference it makes.

*** Like with the cocoa, it’s worth getting a really good quality vanilla extract (not essence). I like the Heilala vanilla extract or Equagold also do a good one. I’ve seen a few recipes around for a homemade vanilla extract, so stay posted and I may try that out on here soon.