Sometimes the best things happen when you least expect them. They fall upon you like a blitz of lightening, magically enlightening your confined and small world, and instantly reloading your happiness batteries with enough energy to fill you with a gleeful feeling of intense euphoria, and hope that will last many months. An exhalirating suprise effect that makes you savour those unexpected events even more. Not knowing what tomorrow holds for us doesn't always have to be linked to sadness and despair, but can also bring joy and that is exactly what happened to me a few weeks ago when I was contacted by a journalist of the RSR (Radio Suisse Romande - an enterprise unit within public broadcasting corporation responsible for the production and transmission of French Language radio programmes in Switzerland)...
One sunny morning of May, while browsing through my e-mails, I stumbled upon a message from a reknown radio personality. I was so not waiting for it to happen that it left me speechless for a few minutes. Then, when I recollected my spirits, my astonishment and disbelief gave way to agitation and heart palpitations. Sure, I felt extremely honored that my blog had sparked her interest, but at the same time, her offer terrified me since I'm shy, seriously lack self-confidence and I'm the biggest chicken on earth. I am the kind of individual who prefers to back out of things instead of facing my fears and to take my courage in both hands.
I thought to myself, oh lordy, she wants to interview me for a summer program about people who are passionate about food. Me, the girl the least capable of showing off and speaking about herself lovingly! I am indeed crazy about anything in relationship with the culinary arts, yet the idea of talking with a microphone in front of your face and knowing that it will be broadcasted on one of the most listened-to stations in Suisse Romande is enough to freak me out and make me ventilate like a hysterical woman!
Before making up my mind, I wanted to think about it all thouroughly, weigh the positive and negative aspects carefully and chatt with the woman in question. I didn't want my uncertainty and stupidity to influence my final decision. After a lot of tergiversing, I finally decided to jump into the cold water and I said "YES". I knew that if I had refused her offer, I might have regretted it all my life as such a rare opportunity doesn't present itself often when you are a common mortal and a relatively obscure blogger like me who is rarely under the spotlight. I was not going to be foolish to the point of letting my angst cloud my judgement and take control of my brain as it had done in the past. At least, not on this occasion...
A few weeks later, I was anxiously waiting at home for the reporter to ring my doorbell and enter my chaotic den in order to record my thoughts and to observe me while I nervously cooked for/in front of her (I stress a lot when people see what "dirty kitchen secrets" I have ;-P). I was prepared for the worst!
Thankfully, it seemed that the gods were with me on that day as everything went smoothely and no hell broke lose. My "Fish Rendang" curry dish was perfect and a total hit. I could express myself intelligently without going through a painful outbreak of word diarrhea and felt really relaxed. As a matter of fact, I spoke so much that the correspondent had more than enough material for her 25 minutes show. I can be a real blabbermouth and always tend to try to fill the silence with my voice when adrenalin flows through my body...
As I usually like to greet me guests in a warm manner, I thought that it would be a wonderful idea to bake a goodie that will help break the ice and show this friendly lady that I am not only a "excellent" cook, but also a "talented" baker (well, I hope that's what people think of me...). So, although I had never made "Whoopie Pies" before (even if I had been dreaming of trying that treat since at least 4 years - I know, I'm slow), I decided to speedily whip up a batch of those luscious retro babies. Seeing that they were also much appreciated made my day.
Unless you live under a stone, you might have noticed that those old-fashioned sandwich cookies are definitely the latest food craze. Yes, I baked "Whoopie Pies" despite being allergic to trends and abhorring them like the bubonic plague! Bear a grudge against me for being weak and succumbing to temptation if you wish, but to my defense, it was pure coincidence. In no way did I sell my soul to the devil and suddenly stopped being a wildly unconventional creature who worships diversity and dislikes mass movements.
For me trends are "cultural" dictatorships that are created by the industry who profits from them. I am too much of a free spirit and nonconformist to follow them as they are ephemeral, clannish as well as limitating and bridle people's creativity, imagination and strips them of their personality. I don't want to fit the mold and be a pale copy of everybody else, I just want to be me!
Unfortunately, the culinary world is also afflicted by this epidemic. Chefs, magazines, stores, bloggers and foodlovers of all kinds are dragged into the spirals of the latest fads. Some feel complied to follow it and others freely accept to surf on the wave of fashion and embrace the tyranny of uniformity.
I have never understood why something which has for no reason been despised in the past can suddenly become the center of attention, be adulated for a while and then once again fall into oblivion as soon as it has been decided that it cannot be "in" anymore. That is so stupid! Either you like something as it speaks to your soul or you disapprove of it as it leaves you cold, but you cannot adore or loathe something because the general concensus tells you to. There's no way you can glorify something one day and hate it the next day, unless your love for it isn't real.
How many people do what society tells them to do in order to not be considered "losers"? A myriad, regretfully. Just look at the quantity of human beings who rave about foie gras, because it is something pricy that is acknowledge as being classy and is therefore a must-have. I am sure that most of those folks who gobble foie gras as if there was no tomorrow are disgusted by offals and always smirk when they see fat on their meat. Well, this delicatessen is just geese or duck liver that is saturated with fat. Does it still sound glamorous and appealing now? I'm sure not! Strange that a product can have an incredible success when in fact it is an aquired taste. Speak about psychological wizardry or mental manipulation...
Take macarons. That French confectionery is without a doubt divine and cute, therefore it is an ideal dessert/snack, yet why should it be regarded as the most exceptional treat ever to have graced this earth and have the monopoly over all other pastries or candies? It is indeed an amazing pâtisserie item that deserves recognition, nevertheless it would be blasphemous to affirm that it is the exceptional and exhalirating delight that has ever existed. It would be so sad to eclipse all the other fantastic yummy delicacies with this one's overblown mediatic popularity. And to be honest with you, I'm sure that the money they generate is as interesting as their incredible versatility and ambrosiality. If it didn't sell like like hot breads, would they still be produced on a massive scale and be found everywhere? I believe not. However, would they be less of a culinary show-stopper? No! A very controversial theme, isn't it?
The same goes with cupcakes. They have existed since long in Anglo-Saxon countries and had fallen into disuse until the stylish heroins of "Sex & The City" made them popular again when they visited Magnolia Bakery (see video here). Muffins and "Whoopie Pies" have known a very similar treatment. Now, you'll find them in every bakery or cheap supermarket and cannot escape reading about them in nearly every newspaper, magazine or site. Brainwashing that is.
It is so sad that your tastebuds cannot speak for themselves, instead of being at the mercy of somebody who instructs you on what to consume and what to enjoy. Aren't we mature and intelligent enough to make our own choices, stand behind what we are nuts about and decide for ourselves? I hope so...
Anyway, I guess you've had enough of my rantings and want to learn more about those litigious and ambrosial "Chocolate & Salted Vanilla Whoopie Pies". Well, let me tell you that they deserve a lot of attention whether they are hip or out as this speciality is unique and orgasmically good and terrifyingly addictive!
For my first experimentation with that cookie I wanted to be assured that they would get satisfying results, so I opted for Tish Boyle's recipe for traditional "Whoopie Pies" (chocolate & vanilla) as I cherish her cookbook "The Good Cookie" since it has never deceived me.
As expected, my little cake-like dessert biscuits were very pretty and tasted even better than they looked. They were pleasantly crispy on the outside and exquisitely soft as well as moist on the inside. The ever so slightly salty-tasting vanilla filling that can be compared to frosting paired terribly well with the light bitterness of the cocoa-based cookie shells. Sensational!
~ Chocolate & Salted Vanilla Whoopie Pies ~
Recipe adapted from "The Good Cookie" by Tish Boyle.
Makes about 28 sandwich cookies.
Ingredients for the "Shells":
2 Cups (255g) All-purpose flour
1 Cup (90g) Belgian cocoa powder (unsweetened)
1/2 Tsp Fine sea salt
1 Stick (120g) Unsalted butter, softened
1 Cup (210g) Granulated sugar
1 Large Egg yolk
1 Tsp Pure vanilla extract
1 Tsp Baking soda
1/2 Cup (120ml) Hot water
1/2 Cup (120ml) Buttermilk
Ingredients for the "Filling":
2 Cups (240g) Confectioners’ sugar
4 Tbs (60g) Unsalted butter, softened
3 Tbs Heavy cream (35%)
1 Tsp Pure vanilla extract
1/2 Tsp Fine sea salt
Method for the "Shells":
1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 200° C (400° F). Cover two baking sheets with baking paper or silicone mats.
2. In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, cocoa powder, and salt until well blended. Set aside.
3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, using the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar at medium-high speed until soft, pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
4. Add the egg yolk and beat again until the mixture is homogenous (scrape down the sides of the bowl if necessary) and repeat with the vanilla extract.
5. Stir the baking soda into the hot water.
6. Adding one-third of each ingredient at a time, alternately add the hot water mixture, the buttermilk, and the dry ingredients (you have to end with the dry ingredients). Mix just until combined.
7. Using moistened hands, shape the dough into 2.5 cm (1-inch) balls and place them 5cm (2 inches) apart the baking sheets. Using your palm, flatten each of them into a 3cm (1 1/4-inch) round.
8. Bake the cookies, one tray at a time, for about 5 to 7 minutes, until their surfaces are cracked.
9. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.
Method for the "Filling":
10. In the bowl of an electric mixer, using the paddle attachment, beat the confectioners’ sugar with the butter at medium speed until the mixture is crumbly, about 1 minute.
11. Add the cream and beat at high speed until smooth, then incorporate the vanilla extract and salt and beat until blended.
12. Using a small offset metal spatula or butter knife, spread each of the bottoms of half of the cookies (14 all in all) with the equivalent of teaspoon of filling. Top with the remaining cookie shells and press them together gently.
13. Voilà, you can enjoy your Whoopie Pies!
The baked cookies will still be quite soft when coming out of the oven, but their exterior will firm up as they cool (crispy outside and soft inside).
Store the cookies in an airtight container at room temperature, for up to 5 days.
Serve for teatime, dessert or snack.
~ Whoopie Pies Au Chocolat Et Leur Garniture A La Vanille Salée ~
Recette adaptée du livre "The Good Cookie" par Tish Boyle.
Pour environ 28 cookies sandwichés.
Ingrédients pour les "Coques":
255g de Farine blanche
90g de Cacao non-sucré
1/2 CC de Sel de mer fin
120g De Beurre non-salé, ramolli
210g de Sucre cristallisé
Le jaune d'un gros oeufs
1 CC d'Extrait de vanille pure
1 CC de Bicarbonate de soude
120ml Cup d'Eau chaude
120ml Cup de Babeurre (lait battu)
Ingrédients pour la "Garniture/Crème":
240g de Sucre en poudre
4 CS (60g) de Beurre non-salé, ramolli
3 CS de Crème double (35% de mat. grasses)
1 CC d'Extrait de vanille pure
1/2 CC de Sel de mer fin
Méthode pour les "Coques":
1. Placer une grille de cuisson au milieu du four et le préchauffer à 200° C. Recouvrir 2 plaques de cuisson de papier sulfurisé ou avec des silpats.
2. Dans un bol moyen, mélanger ensemble la farine, le cacao et le sel. Mettre de côté.
3. Dans le bol de votre mixeur (batteur plat), battre le beurre et le sucre à vitesse moyenne, pendant 2 minutes afin d'obtenir un mélange pâle, homogène et léger.
4. Ajouter le jaune d'oeuf et battre à nouveau afin d'obtenir un mélange lisse (râcler les bords du bol si nécessaire) et répéter le même procédé avec la vanille.
5. Dissoudre la bicarbonate de soude dans l'eau chaude.
6. Ajouter en alternant l'eau chaude, le babeurre et les ingrédients secs (1/3 chaque fois), mélanger afin qu'ils soient juste incorporés.
7. Former des boules de 2.5cm avec la pâte (mains mouillées) et les placer sur les plaques à 5cm d'interval, puis les applatir avec la paume de vos mains en un disque de 3cm de diamètre.
8. Cuire les cookies pendant environ 5 à 7 minutes, jusqu'à ce que leur surface soit craquelée.
9. Mettre les cookies cuits à refroidir sur une grille.
Méthode pour la "Garniture/Crème":
10. Dans le bol de votre mixeur (batteur plat), battre ensemble le sucre en poudre avec le beurre pendant 1 minute afin d'obtenir un mélange grumuleux/sablonneux.
11. Ajouter la crème et battre à grande vitesse jusqu'à obtention dun mélange lisse, puis incorporer la vanille et le sel. Battre à nouveau pour que la garniture soit homogène.
12. A l'aide d'une petite spatule ou d'un couteau à beurre, étaler 1 CC de garniture sur 14 des 28 cookies (sur la partie plate). Refermer avec le 14 autres cookies non-glacés, puis presser légèrement afin de coller les deux parties ensemble.
13. Voilà, vos Whoopie Pies sont prêts à être savourés!
Les cookies cuits seront assez mous à leur sortie du four, mais après un certain temps ils durciront (croustillant à l'estérieur et moelleux à l'intérieur).
Garder ces cookies dans une boîte hermétique, à température ambiante, pendant pas plus de 5 jours.
Idées de présentation:
Servir vos Whoopie Pies à l'heure du thé, pour le goûter ou en guise de dessert "fun".