Monday, June 30, 2008

Chocolate Whoopies & Homemade Skinny Cows

What recipes do you avoid? I'm sure that just like me, there are recipes you shy away from for big or little reasons: obscure ingredients, exotic spices, homemade pastry, maybe just a fear of the unknown.

As for me, I've always avoided recipes requiring a candy thermometer for no better reason than well...I've never had one. Obviously, a candy thermometer is no big purchase considering they're typically less than $10 or so. Well, I finally learned my lesson when I tried to become a human thermometer and estimate temperature by sight. I found a recipe for Chocolate Sandwiches with Marshallow Cream Filling.

Isn't that quite the title? I'm not sure what exactly constitutes a whoopie pie, but I hearby rename my culinary concotion Chocolate Whoopies, especially because it reminds me of my favorite 80's phrase: "What's the big whoop?!" In any case, because I'm stubborn and refused (or neglected) to buy a candy thermometer before making these, I ended up with a frothy sugary white mess instead of the fluffy white filling you see below:

While I did have to throw away the first batch of filling, a girl needs her nightly sweets fix, so I improvised and made Homemade Skinny Cow sandwiches with the already baked cookies. Skinny Cows are my absolute favorite "healthy" packaged treat, but boy are they expensive. Using free frozen yogurt I had been awarded from my Golden Spoon frequent customer card, I was happy to make myself some economical treats. That's peanut butter frozen yogurt swirled with chocolate peanut butter for those of you drooling. The chocolate cookies were perfectly textured and I will definitely be making these again. They were a little less chocolatey than the originals, so I may experiment with them next time around.

Back to the Chocolate Whoopies. After a lot of heartache (by principle, I try to never throw kitchen mishaps away), I returned to the store the following day and picked myself a trusty thermometer. Start again. Sugar, corn syrup, and water (otherwise known as the holy trinity) with a pinch of salt are allowed to stew together until the thermometer reaches 244 degrees. This process actually takes a long time and it's now clear why I previously ended up with a goopy mess. Once the syrup has thickened up, its added to softened gelatin and blended until fluffy and gooood. Seriously, it took all my adult willpower not to eat up all the marshamallow creme goodness and get sick from all the sugar. It's been known to happen.

Working quickly, the marshmallow filling is sandwiched between two chocolate cookies and voila you have yourself a Chocolate Whoopie Pie! I've frozen these and pull them out when I get a little chocolate craving. Within a few minutes both the cookies & the filling soften up and they're ready for my gobbling.

Chocolate Whoopies
Source: Cooking Light, July 08

1 cup sugar
5 tablespoons butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour (about 9 ounces)
5 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup fat-free buttermilk (I used reduced fat)
Cooking spray

Filling:
1 envelope unflavored gelatin (about 2 1/2 teaspoons)
3/4 cup cold water, divided
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup light-colored corn syrup
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 375°.
2. To prepare cookies, combine 1 cup sugar and butter in a large bowl. Beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended (about 2 minutes). Add 1 teaspoon vanilla and eggs; beat until combined. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, cocoa, 1 teaspoon salt, baking powder, and baking soda; stir well with a whisk. Add flour mixture and buttermilk alternately to sugar mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture.
3. Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart onto baking sheets coated with cooking spray. Bake at 375° for 10 minutes or until set. Cool on pans 5 minutes. Remove from pans; cool completely on wire racks.
4. To prepare filling, sprinkle gelatin over 1/2 cup cold water in a large bowl; set aside. Combine remaining 1/4 cup water, 1/2 cup sugar, syrup, and 1/8 teaspoon salt in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook, without stirring, until a candy thermometer registers 244° (don't try to eyeball this!) Remove from heat. Gradually pour hot sugar syrup into softened gelatin mixture, beating with a mixer at low speed, then at high speed until thick (about 6 minutes per the original recipe...it took me much longer, maybe 15 -18 minutes), scraping sides of bowl occasionally. Add 1/2 teaspoon vanilla; beat until well blended.
5. Quickly spread about 2 tablespoons filling over bottom side of 1 cookie; top with another cookie. Repeat procedure with remaining filling and cookies.

Homemade Skinny Cow Sandwiches

1. Follow recipe above (steps 1-3) for cookies. Allow cookies to cool completely and place cookies in refrigerator for approximately 1 hr so they aren't too soft to handle.

2. Allow ice cream or frozen yogurt of choice to soften. Scoop ice cream onto cookie and top with another. Return to freezer until ice cream hardens.

28 comments:

Noor said...

Hi, this is Noor from Ya Salam Cooking! I just love seeing all the yummy things that you bake and hope that you can participate in this months baking event, we would love to have you join!

http://themiddleeasterncook.blogspot.com/2008/06/baking-round-up-1.html

VeggieGirl said...

I definitely have been avoiding a whoopie pie recipe, since it seems too intimidating to me - but yours look FABULOUS!! And I love that you made a homemade version of those infamous Skinny Cow ice cream sandwiches :0)

moowiesqrd said...

Hey Sharon! They look incredible and I'm drooling! As for the candy thermometer, I bought mine to measure the temp of frying oil. ;) It wasn't until recently that I actually used it to measure boiling sugar.

Sharon said...

noor, thanks for sending along! I'll have to check out your round up.

veggie girl, the most intimidating part was trying to make my cookies uniform in size. I've never been able to master that!

moowiesqrd, thanks! Now I have just one more gadget to add to the collection! :)

Kevin said...

Cookies with frozen yogurt...mmm... They look really good.

Laura said...

Yum these look great. Next you must try homemade marshmallows--that was MY first use of a candy thermometer, undertaken for my husband so he could have hot chocolate (thew real stuff) and homemade marshmallows on his birthday a year ago. Now we are all addicted--I make them around the holidays.

noble pig said...

Just the name makes me smile! These look great and yes the candy therm-it's one of those enigmas.

Becky said...

looks good! i probably wouldn't have had as good willpower and eaten all the marshmallow-ness before finishing the pies.

Pam said...

YUM! These looks so good and I love that you don't have to feel guilty eating them. Great job!

Elle said...

These look so good! Whoopie Pies are a weakness of mine, and I've always wanted to make them. I should, right? :)

Kristen said...

Oh I think both sets look yummy!

tigerfish said...

I want that chocolate whoopie! Give me that chocolate whoopie!

recipes2share said...

What a great name for them. These look fun to eat.
I bought a sugar thermometer many years ago and though not used daily, I wouldn't be without it in the kitchen.

Grace said...

resistance is futile. i'm glad the purchase of your new candy thermometer is already paying off. every picture in this post is incredible. :)

Lori said...

Great job, they ended up looking delicious! What a yummy treat to have waiting for you in the freezer! :)

My Sweet & Saucy said...

I love the idea of homemade skinny cows! Great job!

Jenny said...

Those look grogeous Sharon! I just gave you a blog award on my blog. What a fun recipe!!

Lisa said...

Oh, yum! I love skinny cows but you are right and they pricey. Great idea!

Sharon said...

kevin - thanks. I like to fool myself to think these are "healthy" because of the fro-yo :)

laura - that's definitely my next adventure! Homemade marshmallows are SO much better than the kind that are $1/bag. I tried to make some with the leftover filling, but it was a little too soft.

noble pig - the name puts a smile on my face :)

becky - it was tempting, let me tell ya. I wanted to eat it by the spoonful!

pam - I only felt guilty for 1 second...maybe half!

elle - you definitely should. It's not that hard once you actually have the right tools (hitting myself on the head)

kristen - thanks. I'm not quite sure which I like better. I keep sampling both to figure it out.

tigerfish - I could send one to you...I wonder if it'd hold up in the mail?!

recipes2share - I think having one will broaden my horizons to all those recipes I've shunned in the past!

grace - thanks so much. I agree, resistance is always futile.

lori - a yummy, yet dangerous treat.

my sweet & saucy - since it was easy, I might switch over to the homemade kind. No more funny ingredients or preservatives!

jenny - well, gee thanks! :) I love your blog so that's a big honor.

lisa - how did something like an ice cream sandwich get so expensive?!

Bridgett said...

I love skinny cows!!!! The ice cream I mean ;) Apparently you can get huge boxes of them at Costco, so if you need a box of 30, I hear that is the place. Your cookies look so yummy!

Emiline said...

Yeah, I'm going to have to agree with everyone else. These look great.

Whenever I hear the word, whoopie, I think of the Newlywed Game.

Sophie said...

usually when things require a candy thermometer, I freak out :P. Great save on these whoopies though! So gooey and delicious. (Don't tell anyone ;), but I made these once before and they came out horribly! :P)

Garrett said...

Yum! The whoopies and skinny cows both look delicious. I just recently bought a candy thermometer as well...I was stubborn and also failed at making some sugar-based thing by eye before going out and buying one.

MyUtopia said...

They look delish!

Trulie Scrumptious said...

Oh yummy! I will have to try this out for sure...

Prudy said...

I saw that in my CL magazine. It looks even better with frozen yogurt-especially the pb yogurt. I was hooked on skinny cows, but have since moved on. It was good while it lasted-but I'd sure love this homemade version.

Elle said...

You're killing me! Whoopie Pies are my weakness...my kryptonite. I never make them because I'd want them all.

They look sooooo good!

Heather Williams said...

Sharon,

I tried these out yesterday and I think I have already eaten 4 ice cream sandwiches! Love them, thanks for suggesting them.

-Heather