Whoopie Pies, Falmouth, Maine, photo by alcinoe, 2006, image released to public domain.
I’m having way too much fun with these old family recipes. The comfort foods we grew up with connect to memories. And memories connect to family stories. In a comment on Memories, Writing, & Family Recipes, Mom mentioned the delectable Whoopie Pie and my nostrils curled with the scent of little cocoa cakes rising in the oven.
What’s a Whoopie Pie?
I can tell you what it’s not. It’s not a cookie, or a cupcake, and, nope, not a MoonPie. I had to do a little research on the history of the Whoopie Pie, and found an excellent account at What’s Cooking America. Originally made from leftover batter, this chocolaty dessert didn’t emerge from my Southern roots, but much further north in Lancaster County (locals emphasize the 1st syllable in Lancaster, the last two falling away quickly), the emerald Pennsylvania Dutch Country, 15 or 20 minutes from home.
Home is a relative term. For me, home was the Deep South from birth to age 12: Georgia, South Carolina, and Tennessee. But from ages 13 to 21, I lived in a rural area of Central Pennsylvania where my mother and most of the family still reside. The cultural differences in North and South speak for themselves. But one of the things that happens when families crisscross the U.S., digging up and replanting roots, is the adoption and adaptation of geographical foods and culture. If you’ve traveled around this country in culinary delight, I’m sure you know what I’m talking about.
All that said, I do come by the Whoopie Pie honestly. When tackling the family ancestry, Mom discovered that my great grandfather (on her side) grew up in Coatesville, Pennsylvania; the rest of the family roots are in South Carolina and Georgia. My Southern grandmother also met and married a Pennsylvanian when she lived with us a few years in the 1960′s.
Miraculously, she convinced the genteel Yankee to fly South for the winter, and the two of them eventually moved back to Georgia (probably taking the Whoopie recipe with them!). I guess you could say the family history is a proud mix of North and South, which makes the palette of foods we enjoy that much richer!
How Did the Whoopie Pie Get Its Name?
Mom emailed the recipe (below) for Whoopie Pies; it was adopted by my sister (another excellent cook and baker following in the tradition of my mother). Whoopie Pies are also a New England specialty, and one of Maine’s great comfort foods. Check out Labadie’s Bakery site to order the Maine Whoopie Pie in every size imaginable. They’ve been baking them since 1925.
I even found a recipe for Red Velvet Whoopie Pies (see Red Velvet Cake commentary at Home & Hearth – On Turning 70). But the best way to experience this treat is to head out to Pennsylvania Dutch Country for the real deal. The Amish have been passing the pies down for generations and you can often buy them at mom-and-pop roadside stands across the area.
But how did the scrumptious Whoopie Pie get its name? According to Amish legend, when children would find these treats in their lunch bags, they would shout “Whoopie!”
My thoughts exactly. Here’s to making Whoopies. Whoop on!
How To Make Whoopie Pies
Shopping List – Pies
1 c. shortening
2 c. sugar
1 c. hot water
1 c. sour milk (or buttermilk)
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
4 c. flour (plain)
2/3 c. cocoa (add water to cocoa)
1/2 tsp. salt
Mix hot water and cocoa and set aside. Cream shortening and sugar, then add eggs, one at a time. Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together. Add buttermilk alternately with flour, then add cocoa mixture. Spoon by teaspoonfuls (or tablespoon, depending on how large you want them) onto a greased cookie sheet. Bake at 400 degrees – about 8 minutes.
Shopping List – Filling
2 egg whites
2 tsp. vanilla
4 Tbsp. flour
1 c. Crisco
4 c. 10X Powdered sugar
4 Tbsp. milk
Beat egg whites, vanilla, flour, and Crisco all together. Add powdered sugar alternately with milk; beat well. When pies are cool, spread a giant scoop of filling on a pie. Place another pie on top, and gently press together. (You might want to wrap them individually to store, as they tend to stick to each other.) Enjoy!
You can also freeze Whoopie Pies and eat them later. That’s good to know for one and two person households! Liz and I made way too much banana pudding over Thanksgiving!
-posted on red Ravine, Friday, December 14th, 2007