Thursday, August 23, 2012

Whoopie Pies

The whoopie pie - a regional treat beloved of northern New Englanders and the Amish. It's two pieces of soft chocolate cake with marshmallow filling in between. And no, it's not a Moon Pie.

It's disloyal to say so, but I actually prefer Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with cream cheese frosting. But these are very, very good - made better (I think) when I bump up the salt in the filling. Salt cuts the sweetness and makes them irresistible.

Whoopie Pies

1/2 c. shortening
1 cup brown sugar
1 large egg
1/4 c. plus 2 T. Hershey's Special Dark cocoa
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 t. baking powder
1 t. baking soda
1 t. salt
1 t. vanilla
1 cup milk

Filling (note: I make 1.5 recipes of filling)

1 stick butter, softened
1/2 cup shortening
3 cups confectioner's sugar
1 1/3 cups (4 oz.) Marshmallow Fluff or marshmallow creme
1/4 t. salt (I round the measurement and add more salt as needed after tasting)
1 1/2 t. vanilla
1/3 - 1/2 c. milk

1. Preheat oven to 350. Lightly grease or line with parchment 2 cookie sheets.

2. In a large mixing bowl, cream together the shortening, brown sugar, and egg. In a separate bowl, whisk together the cocoa, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a small bowl, stir the vanilla into the milk.

3. Alternate adding the dry ingredients and the milk mixture to the shortening mixture, beating until smooth. Drop the stiff batter by tablespoons on the baking sheets, about 2 inches apart. They'll spread a lot while they bake!

4. Bake the cookies for 8-10 minutes, until they are firm to the touch. Check them at 6-7 minutes to be sure. Remove from the oven and cool on cooling racks.

5. Mix all filling ingredients together except milk until smooth. Add enough milk to make a smooth frosting consistency. Spread half the cookies with the filling and top with remaining cookies. These are messy, so it's good to wrap them in parchment or Saran wrap individually.

Sweet and Sour Chicken

I am not one of those people who says, "You find the best recipes in church cookbooks!". But this is a good one: I don't know anyone who doesn't like it. I've changed and adapted it a bit over the years, but the basic idea is the same. If you like your sweet and sour chicken more saucy, just double the sauce ingredients.

Sweet and Sour Chicken

2 lbs. boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into one-inch chunks
1 cup cornstarch
1 t. garlic salt
1 t. seasoned salt
1 20-oz. can pineapple chunks, 1/4 c. juice reserved for sauce
Vegetable oil
3 eggs, beaten


3 T. ketchup
2 1/2 t. soy sauce
1/4 cup vinegar
1/4 cup pineapple juice
1 cup sugar
1 cup water

Pour enough vegetable oil into a frying pan to coat the bottom and heat to medium. Combine cornstarch, garlic salt, and seasoned salt on a plate. Dip chicken pieces into beaten egg and then into cornstarch mixture. In single layers, pan fry until golden brown in oil.  Place chicken and pineapple in a rectangular baking dish.

In a saucepan, combine sauce ingredients. Bring to a boil, and turn heat to low. Stir until sugar dissolves. Pour sauce over chicken and pineapple.

Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Stir and continue baking for 15 minutes. Serve over rice.