I'm back ... with Whoopie Pies ... but not just any whoopie pies.

Hello there. You might wonder where I've been, what with my grand claims of posting here more in the new year and whatnot. Well, I'll tell you. I gave up sugar and beer for the month of February, no small feat for a sugar fiend like me. And lover of beer. End result, I could totally give up sugar for another month, but why would I want too? It sucks much of the joy out of my life. I think instead, I will perhaps be more moderate in my sugar choices in the future. But at any rate, that's a partial reason why I've been away. But I'm back! I gave up my fast a couple days early to celebrate a friend's birthday. This friend loves the rum and coke like none other. Alex gave me a lovely little book called Booze Cakes for Valentine's Day, which just happened to have a recipe for rum and coke whoopie pies, and so, I knew the friend would have to have them for his birthday celebration. He thought he wanted key lime pie. He might get that next year, but this year, he got whoopie pies. 

These pies are serious. Seriously sweet, and good, but not nearly as coke-flavored as I would have hoped, their flavor is much more chocolately. Because you couldn't increase the soda in the recipe without affecting its outcome, I would suggest if you try this at home, you get some cola extract from your local decorator's shop to punch up the flavor. I think it would be worth it. You do *not* need to punch up the rum. Whew. I added a bit more than was called for, but I'll get to that. So here we go.

Rum and Coke Whoopie Pies from the book Booze Cakes, with very light adaptations, and suggestions for learning from my experience.
This is a fairly complex recipe, in that there are three separate recipes, and then assembly. It's really not too difficult, but it is time and space and bowl consuming. Make sure you have a lot of time, and bowls, and space.

Step one: make the cakes. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Slightly soften one stick of butter - 1/2 cup. I put the butter in the microwave for 10 seconds to get it to the consistency I'm looking for. Alternately, you could leave your butters (you need more later) out on the counter for a few hours to soften. Beat together with one cup of sugar. You want this to whip this to make it fluffy, so beat on high for a few minutes. Add two eggs and 1 & 1/2 teaspoons vanilla. (the recipe calls for 1 tsp, but I always add a little more). Beat some more. 

In a little bowl combine 1/2 cup buttermilk and 1/4 cup cola. I used Mexican Coke, as I wanted sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup in my batter, but as I mentioned, the flavor did not stand out. I do think you should put in a drop or two of cola extract for a more robust flavor. Then combine this with the batter above. It gets kind of gross looking and separated here for a second, but fear not, it will come together when you add in your dry ingredients.

Mix in your flour - 2 & 1/2 cups, about a cup at a time, then add 5 tablespoons cocoa powder (I used plain old Hershey's but I think this would be a good recipe to fancy it up a bit, if you want to use something different. If I had some right now, I would be using Omanhene, which is my favorite cocoa ever),1 tsp baking soda, 1 tsp baking powder, and 1/2 tsp salt (I like kosher salt). Mix!

Get out two cookie sheets and lay down parchment paper on them. You need this to prevent the cakes from sticking. You could use your silpat too, if you have that, but I just use parchment. The recipe says it makes 8 pies, but those pies would be huge, and these are seriously sweet, so I'd say, make more than 8. I made 16 total, 12 small and 4 big, on three total cookie sheets. Drop them into little round balls on the tray. I use my finger to shape them slightly. Bake them for ten minutes (I did two sheets, then one sheet), for ten minutes. Let them cool. they'll come right off the parchment without sticking. That's part one.

While part one is baking, you can get started on your homemade marshmallow fluff, or you can open your pre-bought can of marshmallow fluff and take a load off! I did not do this so... beat 3 egg whites, 2 cups of light corn syrup (I had not quite two cups and so used a little dark, because, yes, I also had dark, and it was fine) and 1/2 tsp salt forEVER. 

Well, okay, it just seems like forever, but really, it's ten minutes. Here's where you should learn from me. One, buy a kitchenaid mixer so you don't have to do this by hand, and two, when you think it's really thick at 5 minutes, you need to still beat it for another 5 minutes, or you will have some consistency issues when you make your filling for the pies. So after all that blending and thickening, add 2 cups powdered sugar and blend some more. The finished product is in the picture below, and I think it's not thick enough at about 6 minutes. Remember to beat for ten minutes *before* adding the powdered sugar.

At this point, this stuff does *not* taste like marshmallow fluff, but miraculously, when you add 1 Tbsp of vanilla extract, it suddenly does. Here's something to think about at this point. Say you want to make peppermint patty whoopie pies... I'd say add peppermint extract here. Or had a reason for your filling to be orangey, or almondy (wedding cake whoopie pies?), I'd add that extract instead. Maybe 2 tsps of that extract to 1 tsp vanilla? Just a thought. So, the recipe says this makes 2 1/4 cups, but no, it makes like 6 cups! Those egg whites really whip up. So, if you're just making this for the pies, halve it!

Okay, so you've made and or opened your fluff. Now you must make the filling. Would you believe you add additional sugar? Like I said, these pies are serious. So, add one cup fluff to 1/2 cup slightly soft butter (unsalted!! unless you like your sweet filling salty instead) and beat like crazy. Again, your kitchenaid would come in handy here. Then add your rum - 3-4 Tbsp. Beat. Then add in 2 cups of powdered sugar. I found I had to add a lot more sugar than was called for - about another cup - to get the consistency I wanted - so I also had to add more rum to keep the flavor strong - about 1 to 2 more Tbsp. I suspect that if you whip your fluff longer than I did, or buy store bought, you probably won't have this problem. Let me know. 

So - assembly time! I found cakes that were roughly the same size, used an icing spatula to add a little filling (leaving a little space around the outside, knowing I was going to smush it), and then, I had whoopie pies. I still wasn't super wild about my filling consistency, so I stuck the cakes in the fridge for about an hour, and they held up very well - they made it to the bar, where the birthday fellow gave me the thumbs up for his birthday treat. The friends all approved. So glad to be back on the sweets! --T