Since the ink has dried on the order form for my wedding gown, I've had this awful black cloud hanging over my head that says, "Don't even think about gaining weight..." and "If you put on a few pounds, you're going to look like a can of busted biscuits in that dress..."
I've done a pretty good job of listening to it, avoiding office birthday cakes and swapping out my mid-afternoon sweet snack for crunchy red grapes, but I'm only human, people. Sometimes humans crave the naughty, X-rated combination of chocolate and peanut butter all day long and no amount of rational, calorie-counting thinking is going to stop a bride-to-be from indulging in, say, a chocolate and peanut butter whoopie pie.
I've had a hard time coming around to the whoopie pie. Despite its charming name, the only whoopie pies I've ever encountered were in Lancaster, Pennsylvania where you can find them in a dozen flavors like pumpkin spice and red velvet, wrapped tightly in plastic and clustered inside brightly lit bakery cases at the farmer's markets. Compared to the lemon poppyseed cakes and crumbly cherrry pies, they're humble looking goodies that I usually passed by in favor of a cup of corn chowder soup. And not to shame the Amish, but I've seen them make the whoopie pies and I know for a fact that they use Crisco in the filling and that, my friends, makes me cry in my sleep.
I finally caved to their school lunchbox lure when we were camping a few years back. It was November and the ground was slicked with ice - a cold so biting we retreated to our cramped camper and swirled Swiss Miss into sytrofoam cups and played Taboo on the collapsible table. We were only coaxed outside by the clip-clop of horse hooves on the street, pulling a wooden buggy with cabinet doors fixed to both sides of it. Every few campers, the bearded and suspendered man would stop, swing open the doors, and reveal rows and rows of whoopie pies. It was so charming, so Lancaster, I shelled out a few bills for a red velvet with vanilla filling and made a bee-line back to the heat.
It was a decent treat in its own way, but the filling tasted more like pure sugar than anything else and the cakes were too moist. I ended up with a mouth that looked like I'd just been punched out by Urijah Faber. It wasn't pretty. I forgot about these pies for a long time, until my inner bridezilla reared her ugly, I'm-not-eating-any-more-salad head, and I twisted my own arm until these were made.
A scoop of real peanut butter buttercream sandwiched between two chocolaty cakes is over the top decadent, and if you don't get a cavity from looking at it, you'll most definitely need a glass of icy cold 2% to wash it all down. Take that, wedding dress.
Chocolate Peanut Butter Whoopie Pies
Adapted from Peanut Butter and Julie
1 3/4 cups flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
4 tablespoons butter, softened
1/4 cup solid vegetable shortening, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 large egg
1 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Peanut Butter Buttercream
2/3 cup peanut butter (creamy or crunchy)
8 tablespoons butter, softened
3/4 cup confectioner's sugar
Preheat the oven to 375F degrees. Line two large cookie sheets with parchment paper and set aside. In a small bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter, shortening, and both sugars at high speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add the egg and beat until fluffy, 2 minutes more. Add half of the flour mixture, then the milk and vanilla, and beat until combined. Add the remaining half of the flour mixture and beat the mixture, scraping down the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed.
Drop 12 heaping tablespoons of batter 2 inches apart on each baking sheet. Bake the cookies in the upper and lower thirds of the oven for 8 minutes. Switch the positions of the baking sheets, rotate the sheets, and continue to bake the cookies until they spring back when lightly touched, about 4 minutes longer.
Let the cookies cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheets and then transfer them to wire racks to cool completely. Meanwhile, repeat the baking process with any remaining batter.
Make the peanut butter buttercream: Cream the peanut butter and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on high speed. On low speed, mix in the confectioner's sugar until combined, and then beat the mixture on high speed until fluffy and smooth, 2-3 minutes. Add a pinch of salt to taste, if desired, and mix to combine. (If you didn't actually measure the powdered sugar like I did, you'll end up with peanut butter fudge instead of a smooth filling - a splash of milk will bring you back home.)
Scoop about 1 tablespoon of the buttercream on the flat sides of half of the cookies. Top each half with the remaining cookie, flat side down, and gently press together. You're welcome.