A regional treat from the Northeast spreading throughout the rest of the country, a whoopie pie is made with two chocolate cake rounds sandwiched together with a generous helping of marshmallow creme frosting. We in Maine claim it wholeheartedly, even naming it the official state treat, but concede that Pennsylvania may have a right to claim it too.
Evocative of typical lunchbox treats, they make great homemade snacking cakes. In Maine, we don't need an occasion to eat whoopie pies; a whoopie pie creates an occasion, though they often show up at birthdays, parties, and even weddings.
Why These Whoopie Pies Are the Best
When you break it down, a whoopie pie only has two elements: the chocolate cake and the marshmallow filling. When a dessert's flavor is so simple, a recipe needs to get the details right. Here's how the details of this recipe add up to a wicked dessert.
Butter is more flavorful than oil, but oil makes moister cakes than butter. This recipe meets in the middle and uses both softened butter and vegetable oil, so you don’t have to compromise between flavor and texture. Sweetening the batter with dark brown sugar ensures a soft, moist cake and contributes a richer molasses flavor that complements the cocoa. I prefer Dutch-process cocoa powder over natural cocoa powder for this recipe. Dutch-process cocoa is darker in color and, more importantly, has a smoother, richer flavor. Using buttermilk not only adds a slightly tangy, creamy flavor, but also helps to make the cakes extra fluffy.
Marshmallow Creme Filling
Traditional whoopie pies, true to their New England roots, use a marshmallow creme filling. Marshmallow creme, invented in Somerville, Massachusetts, in the early 1900s, has the same flavor as regular marshmallows but in the form of a spreadable paste. It makes the filling for whoopie pies sweet, creamy, and slightly thicker than standard frosting.
Creating Different Whoopie Pie Flavors
You can't go wrong with the classic pairing of chocolate and marshmallow creme , but whoopie pies naturally lend themselves to all sorts of flavor combinations. If traditional is too plain for you, or you're just looking for fun whoopie pie variations, try one of these filling flavors:
- Peanut Butter: Make the peanut butter filling by beating 1 cup softened unsalted butter, 2 cups powdered sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt for 2 minutes. Add 2/3 cup creamy peanut butter and 1 cup marshmallow fluff and continue mixing until smooth and creamy.
- Mocha: Dissolve 1 tablespoon instant coffee in 1 tablespoon boiling water and add it to the filling along with the vanilla extract in step 9 below.
- Mint: Add 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon mint extract to the filling in place of the vanilla extract in step 9 below.
When measuring ingredients for this recipe, it’s best to use a scale. If you don’t have one, measure your flour by scooping it from the bag into the measuring cup and then leveling the top with the back of a table knife (don’t pack the flour into the cup). This will give you soft and fluffy whoopie pies.
For the Chocolate Cake Rounds
2 cups (240g) all-purpose flour (see recipe note)
1/2 cup (42g) Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup (57g) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup (60ml) vegetable oil
1 cup (213g) packed dark brown sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup (240ml) buttermilk
For the Filling
1 cup (227g) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup (113g) powdered sugar
1 (7 to 7.5-ounce) jar marshmallow creme (about 2 1/4 cups)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat the oven
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
Combine the dry ingredients:
In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
Cream the butter and sugar:
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large mixing bowl with a hand mixer, beat the butter, oil, and brown sugar on medium speed until the mixture is pale and airy, about 3 minutes.
Add the eggs and vanilla:
Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla extract and mix to combine, scraping down the bottom and sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. The mixture should be fluffy and light in color.
Add the dry and wet ingredients:
Alternate adding the flour mixture and the buttermilk, starting with half of the flour mixture, then all of the buttermilk, and finally the rest of the flour mixture. After each addition, mix on low speed just until combined. Pause and scrape the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed to ensure even mixing. The batter should be smooth and look like a thick chocolate cake batter.
Scoop the batter:
Scoop the batter with a 1-ounce cookie scoop, or if you are not using a cookie scoop roughly 2 tablespoons of batter per cake round. Drop the batter onto the prepared baking sheets leaving about 2 inches or space between each cake.
Bake for 8 minutes, rotating the baking sheets halfway through (you’ll need to bake the trays in batches). The tops of the cakes should look matte and spring back when gently poked. A toothpick inserted into the center of one of the middle cakes should come out clean or with only a few crumbs clinging to it.
Let the cake cool on the trays for 5 minutes, then use a spatula to transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely before filling them.
The cakes tend to stick a bit, even to the parchment. Remove them with care. A thin metal spatula is best.
Make the filling:
While the cakes cool, make the filling. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or in a large mixing bowl with a hand mixer) beat the butter and confectioners’ sugar on medium speed until pale and satiny, about 2 minutes. Add the marshmallow creme and vanilla extract and continue mixing until smooth. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and mix again for 30 seconds to combine. The filling, while fluffy, will be slightly thicker than typical cake frosting.
Assemble the whoopie pies:
When the cakes are completely cool, assemble the whoopie pies. Spread or scoop about 2 tablespoons of the filling on the flat side of half of the cakes. Sandwich a second cake over the top.
Store the whoopie pies layered between sheets of wax paper or parchment paper in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.
Whoopie pies can also be frozen, individually wrapped in plastic wrap, for up to 3 months.
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|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Servings: 14 to 18|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 17g||22%|
|Saturated Fat 8g||42%|
|Total Carbohydrate 40g||15%|
|Dietary Fiber 1g||3%|
|Total Sugars 25g|
|Vitamin C 0mg||1%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|