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Whoopie Pies with brown sugar

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Made up of two cookie-like chocolate cakes stuffed to the gills with fluffy marshmallow filling, the whoopie pie is a sweet indulgence.

For the cake component, we drew inspiration from devil’s food cake, creaming butter with sugar, adding eggs and buttermilk for tenderness, and using all-purpose flour and baking soda for the right amount of structure.

For the chocolate flavour, we preferred the darker colour and flavour that Dutch-processed cocoa provided. One-half cup of cocoa delivered a balanced flavour, especially when boosted with a splash of vanilla extract.

We tried replacing some of the granulated sugar with brown sugar, and found that it deepened flavour and added moisture. In fact, we liked the results so much we wound up using all brown sugar.

Using a 1/3-cup dry measuring cup, we portioned the batter onto two baking sheets to give the cakes plenty of room to spread. For the filling, we eschewed the traditional sugar and lard in favour of marshmallow creme, which we enriched with butter for a mixture that was fluffy yet firm. Don’t be tempted to bake all the cakes on one baking sheet; the batter needs room to spread while it bakes.

WHOOPIE PIES

Makes: 6 sandwich cookies

Start to finish: 1 hour

Cakes

2 cups (10 ounces) all-purpose flour

1/2 cup (1 1/2 ounces) Dutch-processed cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

1 cup packed (7 ounces) light brown sugar

1 large egg, room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup buttermilk

Filling

12 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

1 1/4 cups (5 ounces) confectioners’ sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/8 teaspoon salt

2 1/2 cups marshmallow creme

For the cakes

Adjust oven racks to upper-middle and lower-middle positions and heat oven to 350 F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Whisk flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt together in bowl.

Using stand mixer fitted with paddle, beat butter and sugar on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add egg and beat until incorporated, scraping down bowl as needed. Add vanilla and mix until incorporated. Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with buttermilk in 2 additions. Give batter final stir by hand to ensure that no flour pockets remain. Using 1/3-cup dry measuring cup, scoop 6 mounds of batter onto each prepared sheet, spaced about 3 inches apart. Bake until centres spring back when lightly pressed, 15 to 18 minutes, switching and rotating sheets halfway through baking. Let cakes cool completely on sheets.

For the filling

Using stand mixer fitted with paddle, beat butter and sugar on medium speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in vanilla and salt. Add marshmallow creme and mix until combined, about 2 minutes. Refrigerate until slightly firm, about 30 minutes. (Filling can be refrigerated for up to 2 days.) Place 1/3 cup filling on bottom of half of cakes, then top with remaining cakes, pressing to spread filling to edge. Serve. (Whoopie pies can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.)

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