Baking after midnight always has such a calming effect on me.
Ever since January, I've been inundated by emails and texts from readers and friends asking me one thing: when am I going to make Whoopie Pies. The first time I'd received this request, I must be honest, I'd never even heard of them! So off I went to research all things Whoopie.
The whoopie pie originates in America, where the typical flavours are chocolate or pumpkin, filled with marshmallow cream or cream cheese . They are quite large, like a giant macaron, almost burger size, and need to be eaten with two hands. Over the last few months, there has been a lot of media coverage about how whoopie pies are the next cupcakes. And here I thought macarons were the next cupcakes. Does that make whoopie pies the next macarons? How do these things even start?
Not one to follow a fad, and mostly because I'd never tried them, I was intrigued. I'd heard that the Hummingbird Bakery had just started selling chocolate whoopie pies, so off I went to try some. And they were very good. In fact, they were awesome. So much so, that I'd fallen in love with them. I had to try and replicate them somehow, so I experimented by trying a few different recipes.
With so many other blogs recreating chocolate versions, I had to create something different (have you seen Catty's Matcha version yet?). I was inspired by my latest obsession: Ottolenghi's lemon polenta cakes. Lots of post-midnight baking (and tasting) sessions later, I've come up with a version of whoopie pies that are much smaller than the originals, filled with a light chocolate ganache, and topped with pistachios.
I also had some very exciting news last week. I'd woken up on Thursday to a friend's email letting me know that Mowielicious was featured in a great review in the Times as 'Best of the blogs'! I still can't believe it. My little blog... in the Times! How amazing is that?! Anyone that really knows me knows that I have major issues when it comes to believing in my work, so I still wake up every morning thinking this is some kind of a joke and it will all be revealed as such on April Fool's day. But until then, a massive 'Thank You!' to Nick Wyke from the Times. I am humbled by the honour.
I didn't realize this, but Nick also has a personal (and mostly British) food blog called Artichoke, where he writes weekly posts about the latest seasonal fruits and veggies. I'm so excited to have discovered it because I'd been looking for a seasonal food blog just like that for ages, but couldn't find anything that kept true to the seasonal theme.
I'm also excited because Nick emailed letting me know that it looks like 'Best of the blogs' is going to be a weekly thing, and asked for any really good suggestions as and when I stumble upon them. So, dear readers, I thought I could help both him and you out at the same time: if you are a food blogger and would like to suggest your own blog, or know of a great food blog you'd like to see featured in the Times, just leave your suggestion(s) in the comments section below. Hopefully this way we can all discover some gorgeous new food blogs!
Lemon Polenta Whoopie Pie Recipe (printable version):
Makes 16 pies
For the whoopie pie shells:
125g butter, at room temperature
200g light brown sugar
450g plain flour
1 tsp salt
1½ tsp baking soda
225g polenta, soaked in lemon juice (roughly 175g dry polenta and the juice of 4 lemons)
For the chocolate ganache:
300g dark chocolate, 70% cocoa, broken into small pieces
300ml double cream
Juice of 1 lemon
½ tsp salt
To decorate (optional):
100g dark or milk chocolate
50g ground pistachios
1. Preheat your oven to 180˚C. Line two baking trays with baking paper or silicone mats.
2. Whisk together the butter and sugar. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, salt and baking soda.
3. Whisk in the eggs until completely incorporated. Add the flour mixture in three parts, alternating with the buttermilk.
4. Fold in the polenta. Fill a piping bag and pipe 5cm rounds (or however big you'd like your whoopie pies to be).
5. Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until the cakes spring back when touched. Allow to cool before filling.
6. While the whoopie pies are baking, heat the double cream to the point just before it boils over a medium heat. Remove from the heat and add the lemon juice, salt and butter. Stir until the butter melts completely
7. Add the hot double cream mixture to the chocolate pieces and whisk vigorously until the heat of the cream melts the chocolate, forming a thick ganache. Allow to cool.
8. Fill a piping bag with the chocolate ganache and pipe onto half the whoopie pie shells, cover with the other shells. To decorate, you can melt the milk chocolate over a hot water bath, spread a teaspoon full over the whoopie pies and top with ground pistachios.