Making Whoopie

Sometimes random celebrations are the perfect answer to the question that was never asked.

Spring is right around the corner.  Or so they tell us.  But looking outside, all I see is snow.  That’s not going to stop us from trying to usher in Spring with the first barbecue party of the season.  Time spent with friends around the table – good food, good wine, and even better conversation.  A celebration of life, of the new life that Spring brings.  A celebration of good things past, and good things to come.

And how better to celebrate than to make a little whoopie?

Pies, that is.

I discovered whoopie pies a few months ago, and have decided that they are pretty much the perfect little hand-held morsel of sweetness.  The perfect combination of cake and cookie.  Of creamy and chewy goodness.  Messy and delicious.

In honour of our random spring celebration, I thought that I would try something new.

Tiramisu whoopies.  Soft cookies soaked with Kahlua, sandwiched together with mascarpone cream, garnished in dark chocolate shavings.  A celebration in your mouth.

After all, who doesn’t love a boozy cookie?

I think that my definition of perfection has gone up a notch.

Tiramisu Whoopie Pies

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
4 tablespoons vegetable shortening, softened
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 tablespoons whole milk
1 teaspoon vinegar
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 1/4 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

in the bowl of a mixer, with the paddle attachment, whip the butter, shortening, and both sugars until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs and buttermilk, and beat until combined.  The mixture may look a bit curdled, but all will work out in the end.

Combine milk, baking soda, and vinegar.  Combine remaining dry ingredients.

With the mixer on low speed, add half of the flour mixture followed by the milk mixture and the remaining flour, beating until just combined.  Add vanilla, and beat on medium for 30 to 60 seconds.

Refrigerate the dough for 15 minutes.  It makes it much easier to work with.

Using a small cookie scoop (about 1 tablespoon), drop the dough onto cookie sheets lined with parchment paper, leaving 2″ between cookies.  Bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes, or until they are set and just starting to brown.  A toothpick inserted into the middle of the cookie should come out clean.  Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Tiramisu Filling

3 cups icing sugar
3/4 cup mascarpone cheese, room temperature
4 tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon espresso powder
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons rum

in the bowl of a standing mixer, beat together the mascarpone cheese and butter until smooth and creamy.  Add the icing sugar and beat on low until combined.  Increase to medium, and beat until fluffy (about 3 minutes).  Add espresso, vanilla, and rum.

Using a pastry brush, paint the bottom of each cookie with Kahlua and let it soak in.  Using a pastry bag, pipe the filling onto the bottom of a cookie, and sandwich another on top.  The amount of filling is totally up to your tastes.  Refrigerate cookies to set the filling.  Prior to serving, let them reach room temperature.

Just Start

Just start.

It’s a good mantra for life.  It’s a good mantra to remember when you are stuck in neutral, when snow is falling and the sun is hidden behind clouds.  It’s a good mantra when dreams are just dreams, and have yet to be given form and substance.  A good mantra when fears overshadow you, when self-doubt starts to creep in.

Just start.

So that’s what I am doing.  Right now.  I am starting.  To move my words beyond paper, beyond myself, and into the wide (and slightly scary) world of cyberspace.  I’m sharing my grandmother’s legacy, taught to me amid yeast and flour and sugar in a farm house kitchen.  I’m sharing my own evolution, in my kitchen and otherwise.

I’m sharing pictures of cinnamon buns.

I’m sharing recipes, too.  That is, after all, kind of the point.

These cinnamon buns are my favourite.  They make the whole house smell like childhood memories of Saturday mornings.  Of sweetness and yeasty goodness.

You should start.  Baking, that is.  And making your own Saturday morning memories.  You won’t be disappointed.

Almost Famous Cinnamon Buns

1 cup warm milk (110 degrees F)
2 eggs, room temperature
1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted
4 1/2 cups bread flour
1/2 cup white sugar, divided
2 1/2 teaspoons yeast

1 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup butter, softened
3 tablespoons cinnamon (approximate)

Add yeast and 2 tablespoons white sugar to warm milk, and let sit for approximately 5 minutes until yeast is dissolved and has doubled in size.  Blend flour and remaining sugar. In a standing mixer (if you have it), add melted butter and eggs to the milk, and mix until combined.  Add flour, one cup at a time, until a soft dough forms.  Knead with dough hook until smooth and elastic.  Place in large greased bowl, cover, and let sit in a warm location to rise until doubled in size.

Place the dough on a lightly floured surface, cover, and let rest for 10 minutes.  Rough dough into a 18 x 22 inch rectangle (approximately – please don’t measure!).  Spread the softened butter over the dough, followed by the brown sugar and cinnamon.  Roll up the dough, and cut into 12 rolls.  Cover and let rise until doubled.

While you are waiting for the dough to rise (again), preheat your oven to 400 F.

Bake rolls until golden brown, about 15 minutes.  Serve warm, with or without icing.