The history of the whoopie pie is surprisingly sordid, full of drama and general confusion. With an unusual name like whoopie pie, it seems destined to have an interesting story behind it. Whoopie pies are essentially two soft chocolate cookies sandwiched together with a sweet filling. Interestingly, whoopie pies were originally known as "gobs," a name I find both humorous and nondescript (Hey, do you want a gob?). I have no trouble understanding why the name was changed somewhere along the way.
Nevertheless, the true controversy begins with the origin. Depending on which source you choose to believe, a very different tale will be spun. Everybody wants a piece of the (whoopie) pie.
First, we'll hear out the food historian. In medieval Germany, long before electricity and marshmallow fluff, they were making cake-like pastries with filling over roaring fires—the ancestors to the whoopie pie. This pastry was passed down over generations, eventually reaching the United States and finding a home with the Pennsylvania Amish. The Amish women, in turn, would make these pies as a treat for their husbands and children. Legend has it, when they would spot these chocolate pies packed neatly in their lunch pails, they would let out a whooopie! with a shout.
Thus, the whoopie pie was born.
Maine also claims ownership over the pie, claiming it was invented within their state lines. Rumor has it that a woman working in a bakery in the 1920s ended up with extra batter after whipping up some cakes. Instead of tossing it out, she scooped spoonfuls of the batter onto a baking tray and popped them into the oven. When they were done, she stuck the small cakes together with leftover frosting and created the first ever whoopie pie. While there is little to no evidence to this tale (the proof was inconveniently burned in a bakery fire), it didn't sway Maine's steadfast belief, especially when they legally made it the state treat.
Boston also claims ties to the whoopie pie, but their evidence is even less substantial than Maine's or Pennsylvania's. Boston claimed the first whoopie pie recipe appeared in a cookbook created by one of their own bakeries in the 1930s. It didn't. Though the same bakery went out of business in the 1970s, the name of the bakery was painted long ago on the side of the building and still remains, though faded. If you ask the right people, they'll wistfully recall there was another sign painted below that read "Whoopee!" Pies—proof of whoopie pie's rightful heritage.
Whether you choose to believe the food historians in Pennsylvania, the governmental body of Maine, or the nostalgic patrons of long gone bakery in Boston, the real heritage of the whoopie pie doesn't really matter in the long run. The important part is that the whoopie pie is here to stay.
These Chocolate Marshmallow Whoopie Pies are soft, sweet, and filled with a hidden history. Two soft chocolate cake-like cookies are sandwiched together with a marshmallow creme. Since I don't believe in the one purpose whoopie pie pans, these can be easily made on a standard baking sheet. Whoopie pies are very similar to a soft Oreo cookie (and are equally at home with a glass of milk). Give these a try, if only to taste the hints of its sordid and surprisingly complicated past.
One Year Ago: Almond Joy Tart
Chocolate Marshmallow Whoopie Pies
Yields ~2 dozen cookie sandwiches
Chocolate Whoopie Pies
Adapted from Baked Explorations
3/4 cup dark unsweetened cocoa powder (use highest quality available)
2 teaspoons espresso powder
1/2 cup hot coffee
1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup buttermilk
3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C).
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the cocoa powder, espresso powder, hot coffee, and 1/2 cup water until smooth. Mix in the sugars and vegetable oil. Beat in the egg until fully combined. Add in the vanilla extract and buttermilk. Fold in the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda until completely incorporated.
Using a tablespoon sized scoop, place cookie dough on a baking sheet 2 inches apart. Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until the cookies just begin to crack and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow to cool completely before filling.
2 cups Marshmallow Fluff (or prepared marshmallow cream)
1 cup vegetable shortening
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
In a medium bowl, beat together the marshmallow fluff, shortening, powdered sugar, and vanilla extract until light and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes.
Fill pastry bag (or a small plastic bag with the corner cut off) with the filling. Place cookie flat side up. Squeeze on desired amount of filling, sandwich with another cookie, and press down slighty so the filling reaches the edge of the sandwich.