A few years ago, I took a food and wine pairing class with Andrea Immer. One of the recipes she gave the class was “Soft Chocolate Sandwich Cookies with Cherries and Mascarpone”. When I looked at the recipe I could tell the cookies were really just gussied up Chocolate Whoopie Pies — big, soft, fat, Amish chocolate cookies filled with mascarpone and dried fruit instead of the usual shortening based cream filling. Filling Whoopie Pies with mascarpone seemed brilliant, but I never thought about the cookies again until today, when I found the handout with the recipe. I decided to make the cookies for Todd.
Somewhere along the way, I mentally tallied up the price of filling ingredients — mascarpone, dried cherries, whipping cream…. and decided that rather than go Italian, I’d go Amish. I ended up making basic Chocolate Whoopie Pies, courtesy of the King Arthur Cookie Book. Below is what they looked like. Perhaps they dream of a better lifestyle? If you’d like to give them that, I’ve included the mascarpone-dried cherry filling as well. If you use that one, make the cookies smaller and follow the directions below for serving.
Two-Way Chocolate Whoopie Pies
2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons Dutch process cocoa
1/2 cup shortening
1 cup brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup milk
1 cup shortening
1 cup powdered sugar
4 ounces (1 1/3 cups) Marshmallow Fluff or Crème
1/4 teaspoon salt dissolved in 1 tablespoon water
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
Fancy Italian Filling:
1 cup dried cherries
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar (divided use)
1 cup chilled heavy whipping cream
8 ounces of mascarpone cheese
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment or non-stick foil.
Stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cocoa powder. Set aside.
In a mixing bowl, beat the shortening and brown sugar until fluffy. Beat in the egg and continue beating until very creamy and light. Beat in the vanilla. Starting with the flour mixture, add the flour mixture and milk to the butter mixture alternately, beginning and ending with flour.
Drop the cookies by quarter cupfuls onto the cookie sheets – 7 or 8 cookies per sheet.
If you plan on using the mascarpone filling, I recommend making the smaller size (8 cookies per sheet) cookies.
Bake the cookies, one sheet at a time, for 12-15 minutes or until they appear set but still moist. Scoop them up onto a cooling rack and allow them to cool completely.
Now make whichever filling you’ve chosen. For the Amish filling, beat together the shortening, powdered sugar, marshmallow stuff, dissolved salt and vanilla. Stuff the cookies as you would if you were Amish. Serve however you want.
If you’ve chosen the expensive, fancy filling, do this. Measure out 2 tablespoons of the dried cherries and set them aside. Roughly chop the rest.
Place 2 tablespoons of the sugar in a bowl and add the un-chopped cherries to the bowl. Shake the bowl gently to coat the cherries with sugar, then set them aside. Add the chopped cherries to the bowl and shake them so that they are coated with whatever sugar remains. Set them aside as well.
In a separate bowl, beat the whipping cream and sugar until peaks form. In yet another bowl, fold 1/3 cup of the whipped cream mixture into the mascarpone cheese to lighten it, then fold this mixture into the remaining whipped cream. Spread a 1/4 thick inch layer of filling onto the bottom side of a cookie. Sprinkle on about 3/4 teaspoon of the chopped dried cherries and top with another cookie, pressing lightly to make a sandwich. Do this until you have 8 sandwich cookies. To serve, heap the cookies on a platter and serve them with the extra whipped cream and the sugared cherries which you did not chop up.
Serve the heaping tray of mascarpone stuffed Whoopie Pies with a sweet, effervescent wine such as Brachetto d’Acqui Coppo, which is what Andrea recommended. Also, don’t call them Whoopie Pies.