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.

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