Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The (Gluten-Free) Whoopie Pie Disaster of 2011

Whoopie Pies are my sister's signature dessert; she can whip up a batch like nobody's business. This being said I have never actually made them on my own before. I've been slacking on the baking lately so I decided to try something I haven't done before while also making it gluten-free

The recipe is originally from my Nana, who was the only whoopie pie maker for a long time, in addition to many other treats. Considering the recipe probably originated in the 40's or 50's it is heavy on the saturated fats and sugar, crisco being the drug of choice. 

When made correctly the combination of flour, sugar, eggs, crisco and milk yields delightfully fluffy, yet well held together, little cakes. Between two of these cakes is a very sweet and thick frosting.

When made incorrectly into gluten-free cakes, I discovered last night, the recipe yields dense balls that look like chocolate munchkins BUT they still taste great! I decided that despite the fact that they did not come out as well as planned I was not that disappointed because they still tasted like I remembered. I am going to give the gluten-full recipe and then the modifications I used to make them into gluten-free pies.

Classic (Gluten-Full) Whoopie Pies

For the "pies":
2 cups of flour
1 cup of sugar
5 tbsp of cocoa
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 egg yolks
1/2 cup crisco (or any shortening)
1 cup milk
1/2 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 375. Mix dry ingredients. Add wet ingredients. Mix well, making sure the crisco is well incorporated. Scoop into teaspoon sized dollops and bake on un-greased baking sheet (I covered mine in foil) for 10-12 minutes. Let cool on rack

For the Filling:
2 egg whites
2 cups of confectionary sugar
1 tsp vanilla 
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup crisco

Mix all ingredients until stiff-ish. I had to add more confectionary sugar because it was really warm in my house and it was making the frosting very soup-y. Store in fridge until "pies" are COMPLETELY cooled! Once cooled, frost top of a pie and then cover with another pie. Voila! You have a delicious home-made whoppie pie.

Now here are my alterations for a gluten-free whoppie pie...

Replace the flour with a good all purpose gluten-free flour mix. I wouldn't recommend replacing it with only rice flour because the pies would be too gritty.

I also added 1 1/2 tsps of xanthan gum. I think if I repeated this I would omit these.

I also had to up the amount of milk to around 1 1/2-2 cups to recreate the looser consistency of the regular pies. This, however, I think was because of the added xanthan gum.

The batter should be much looser and more like a thick cake than a cookie.

I like to line my pans because it eliminates the possibility of left over gluten contaminating the baked goods.

The start of the frosting. You want a thick frosting that isn't going to ooze out of your pies. Depending on temperature and altitude more confectionary sugar than listed may be necessary.

These are my cooked first batch. Yeah not what I had anticipated.

After I added the milk to the batter they spread out a little more but still not enough. After five minutes I pulled them out and squashed them flat with the back of a spoon. I then put them back into the oven for the remaining five minutes. It wasn't ideal but it worked.

Finished (and squashed) product.

An un-topped pie.

If I were to re-do these I would not add the xanthan gum or extra milk. I would do a test batch of two pies and see how they come out. If they are crumbly and won't stay together, add a teaspoon of xanthan gum and repeat test. If they hold their ball-like shape I would add the extra milk a half cup at a time until desired consistency. I also would like to see how some ground flax seeds would contribute to texture and consistency, but maybe next time. No one ever said gluten-free baking was easy!

To be honest with you all though, if you are looking to make a gluten-free whoopie pie and you don't want to mess around with alterations and replacements keep looking for a different recipe. This is, however, a great, great gluten-full recipe and I whole-heartedly recommend trying it! Unfortunately it does contain eggs and dairy so for my other allergen-free friends this is really not that helpful.

Regardless of the fact that they did not turn out as planned Rhianna and I were satisfied with the fact that they still tasted like whoopie pies! And that above all else is what I aim to do when baking gluten-free.

What A Cutie

Our house has a large bay window in the front. There are several large, gnarled bush-tree like plants that you can see right into from the front room. Last week we noticed a Robin family had taken up residence in one of them. Here is the baby Robin sunning himself while his parents are off finding some lunch! We made sure the neighbors cat was out of the yard until this little guy sought some shelter.

Photo Credit: Jill Riley

Monday, July 25, 2011

Weekly Will!

Apparently the crate wasn't bothering him whatsoever. 

Friday, July 22, 2011

Quote of the Day!

"Faith cannot live in a house of certainty."
--The Shack, William Young

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Brief Hiatus

Hi all! So to begin, I am very sorry for the gap in posting! It has been a crazy busy past few weeks with work and just life in general. Last week we had a great party but then I left my camera in a state other than Massachusetts so I was stuck camera-less and picture-less for a while. It was a very sad time.

Highlights of the party include: a wedding cake, a home run derby, a conga line, some swimming with babies in the pool and yummy gluten-free cupcakes.

 Isabella took this one! And nearly 5 others of us without our heads..

 Apparently she thought it was a photo shoot..

Conga line around the pool!

Umpire Makayla!

I'll be back shortly hopefully with some new fun things. I am off to watch The Closer!

Quote of the Day!

 "To be happy, we must not be too concerned with others."
 --Albert Camus

Monday, July 18, 2011

Green Lake State Park, NY

During the time we spent in New York over the 4th of July weekend we took a trip to a place called Green Lakes. It is a state park that features a large lake with an interesting feature; it is a meromictic lake. Meromictic lakes do not have the mixing of surface and deep waters that most lakes experience in the fall and spring. Consequentially the water is pristine. It is technically clear (duh) but the way the light permeates the layers of water creates a green/blue/teal hue. It is really very pretty! You can swim in it but we were on our way home to MA and didn't want to sit in wet suits for 5+ hours.

Notice how you can see the sandy bottom and then it just drops right off! It's very deep.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Gluten-Free Griddle Cakes

This weekend I made pancakes for everyone. They were light and fluffy and blueberry-topped. But they were of the non-gluten-free variety so I had to make some of my own, too. I had some left over cornmeal from corn bread that I made so I decided to make cornmeal based pancakes, sometimes called johnny cakes or griddle cakes.

The recipe I used called for buttermilk but since I didn't have any I used a substitution of milk and vinegar. I wish I hadn't though because the vinegar imparted a too-strong flavor on my cakes. Also I wish I had upped the liquid because the cakes are a little dense. But besides those minor things they were really satisfying! I enjoyed them with copious amounts of maple syrup. Yum!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Clams Casino

Being a New Englander I have grown up with a love of all sea foods. Only recently, however, have I discovered something called "Clams Casino." They are absolutely delicious and I could easily eat 5 or 6 of them in minutes! Also they are pretty easy if you know how to shuck a clam!

Shuck as many clams as you want and leave them on the half shell but make sure all the muscle is completely detached.

Place a tiny square of butter on each clam.

Then put some finely diced onions on each clam.

After that put a square of uncooked bacon on top of the onions and butter.

Bake in the oven at 350 degrees until the bacon is crispy.

Here are some finished clams, these are without onions though so I doubled up on the bacon! 

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

July 4th Festivities

I love the 4th of July. Honestly I don't think I know anyone who doesn't. My holiday weekend was spent in both upstate NY and at home and we were lucky enough to have great weather in both places!

Will relaxing in his freshly-dug spot.

A Humming Bird in NY! Click on the picture to make it bigger, he is sitting on the bottom part of the feeder!


A farmer must have left a pitchfork against a tree at nearly a century ago and the tree grew around it! It has at least 80 rings!

A bathroom on the golf course we played at, a giant golf ball!

Sunset in Syracuse..

Trees at twilight

We had a pretty low-key Monday and we just enjoyed the sun by the pool. I have finally managed to lose that pasty white color the winter turns me..

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy 4th of July!

Happy 4th of July everyone! The summer holiday that means the season is officially upon us. It means swimming, grilled food and fireworks. This weekend has been wonderful so far and I'll post about it soon but right now I'm going to enjoy the sunshine-y day.

Will has certainly enjoyed this holiday weekend and it has left him absolutely exhausted!