Wednesday, 12 January 2011
I had another go at macaroons, because I'm that needy for achievement and they went wrong again. So that's it for me and macaroons. It's over. It was never going to be love but now it's, you know.... a bit awkward and embarrassing to be honest.
So I turned to Whoopie Pies instead, because I'd heard that they were more accommodating, less tricky and demanding, less... French.
And if you are into a bit of performance bakery, these are definitely worth the effort.
I strongly recommend using a piping bag for this, as it will reduce the mess you make and the accuracy of your Whoopie discs by a factor of 10. But, unlike HATEFUL BASTARD MACAROONS they will probably work if you just carefully dollop out the cake mixture.
So here we go, Whoopie Pies, recipe courtesy of Lorraine Pascale. These are chocolate, but you could take out the cocoa powder and they would just be a sort of vanilla sponge. For the filling, I chopped up some hazelnuts and added it to the buttercream with a splash of Frangelico, which if you don't already know, is a hazelnut liquer.
But fillings and flavours are up to your imagination, really. Orange buttercream might be nice? For that you'd add the juice and zest of half an orange to the buttercream. Or maybe some chopped pistachios? Anyway, you get the picture.
The quantities below make about 20 discs, or 10 pies.
I halved the quantities and indeed made 5 pies.
For the pies:
190g demerara sugar
120ml sour cream
180g plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
55g cocoa powder
1 egg plus one egg yolk (I just used one egg and it was v nice - if I was using these quantities, I'd use 2 eggs plus whites. I can't be buggering about with separating eggs in my condition.)
2 drops vanilla essence
115ml sunflower or groundnut oil
Preheat your oven to 170C normal and 150C fan. Grease and line as many baking sheets as you can fit into your oven in one go. Yes, you must do this.
1 Warm the milk in a pan and then pour in the sugar. Mix this round for 2 minutes and then take off the heat and add the sour cream. Set to one side to cool down to lukewarm - it won't take long.
2 Meanwhile, swizzle together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, bicarb and salt.
3 Once the milk-and-sugar slurry has cooled down, throw in the eggs, oil and vanilla. Give it all a gentle whisk until it has all combined. Then add this to the flour mixture and fold round until it's mixed it. It will be quite runny and will have some lumps in - this is normal.
4 Now the hard bit - piping out the mixture. I find that the best way to get mixture into a piping bag is to stand the bag in some kind of jug with the icing bag hanging over the sides like this:
Then pour or spoon in your mixture like this:
Then it won't go everywhere. I mean, it will go everywhere, but not as much as it might.
I think a small-ish Whoopie, and by that I mean no more than 3 inches diameter when cooked, is best because the sponge is quite rich and if you wolf down one any bigger than that you might be sick. This means getting a disc of mixture no bigger than 2in on the baking sheet and in the oven. This is a bugger because you think you've got the right amount out and then the mixture splurges out all over the place.
I ended up squeezing out the mixture of the piping bag at a slow, steady rate and counting "one, two, three" to myself and stopping when I got to three. That seemed to produce discs of about 2.5-3in. Leave at least 1 in between uncooked discs and between the discs and the sides of your baking sheet/tin.
Yes it IS a bit of a pain, but unlike BASTARD MACAROONS, you get the hang of it quite quickly.
If you're feeling unconfident about your sizing, do one and bake it to test it out - they only take 10 mins so it's not a total hassle.
5 As above, bake these in the oven for 10 mins. Do NOT use a skewer to test for readiness as then you'll have an ugly great hole in the lid of your lovely Whoopies. Just gently pat the top of the sponge with a finger and if it feels firm-ish, it's done. The cake will firm up as it cools, so err on the side of bouncy.
For the buttercream icing
200g butter at room temperature - it really must be, I'm afraid
400g icing sugar
1 tbsp milk
Beat together the butter and icing sugar. If you've never done this before and you're doing it with an electric handwhisk, I ought to warn you that it's quite an alarming process. First the icing sugar goes everywhere and then nothing seems to be happening and then after about 3 minutes with scary speed the whole thing gels and turns into buttercream. Once this happens, slosh over the milk and beat that in. Then add whatever extra flavourings you're into, or leave it plain.
Spread the buttercream between two Whoopie discs and sandwich together. Go easy on the buttercream because it can be a bit sickly.
These will keep in tupperware, somewhere cool, for up to 3 days. If you do want to store them, make sure they are interleaved with greaseproof paper because what they really like to do is stick to things.