Whoopie Pies | June 20, 2017

The first time I made Whoopie Pies for my friend’s children, her 4-year-old started calling them “Happy Cakes.” Years later, I cannot see a stack of those cakey, fluffy mounds of cookies and cream without smiling and think that “Happy Cakes” is an equally appropriate name for these delicious treats.

I spent my early childhood in Central Pennsylvania, very near to Amish country. I grew up with Whoopie Pies, which I knew from driving through Lancaster County and stopping at Amish Farm Stands for fresh corn, jams, and whoopie pies on our way home from my grandparents’ house. When we later moved to New England, Whoopie Pies were considered a “Maine” thing. I never quite understood the connection. In doing some research for this blog post, I am not the only one perplexed. Apparently, both the Pennsylvania Dutch and old Downeasterners both claim the rights to the origins of the Whoopie Pie. Regardless, they are chocolatey, gooey, creamy, and highly shareable so both can take half of the credit. I still don’t know how they got their name though, except for the fact that every time I bring them to a gathering, someone yells out “Whoopie!”

First, if you have never had a Whoopie Pie, I am sorry – go get one. Secondly, they are two small, mounded chocolate cakes with fluffy, buttercream-esque cream sandwiched in between. The cake should be really chocolatey and moist – almost fudgy. The cream is made with marshmallow fluff, butter, and confectioners’ sugar so it is extra sweet and gooey. This helps the less-sweet cakes be more balanced with the sweetness of the cream. It is a great bite! In New England, they tend to be huge (which is not really a bad thing), but I prefer mine more manageable in size. At the end of the day, I am not wrapping up the half I can’t finish and demurely putting it aside for the next day. That would basically go against who I am as a human.

The best tip I can give you is to measure the marshmallow fluff. It calls for 2 cups and you are going to be tempted to just buy the large container and assume it is probably close enough. The Tovolo Scoop N Spread is the perfect tool for getting Fluff out of the container without getting fluff onto your elbow. Yes, it can happen! My second tip is not to overcook the cakes. Err on the side of a little underdone and let them rest on the baking sheet for a minute or two. A dry whoopie pie is a sad whoopie pie. The third tip is personal – I store them in the fridge. It isn’t strictly necessary, but I prefer my Whoopie Pies cold.

I guarantee you will be happy if you make them. I guarantee you will be the most popular person at any party you bring them to. And I guarantee at least one person will ask you for the recipe – but I average about 3.

Enjoy your Happy Cakes – Whoopie!


YIELDS 12  |  PREP TIME  1 hour  |  PRINT PDF

  • For cakes:
    • 2 cups all-purpose flour
    • ½ cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
    • 1 ¼ teaspoons baking soda
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1 cup well-shaken buttermilk
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla
    • 1 stick (½ cup) unsalted butter, softened
    • 1 cup packed brown sugar
    • 1 large egg
  • For filling:
    • 1 stick (½ cup) unsalted butter, softened
    • 1 ¼ cups confectioners’ sugar
    • 2 cups marshmallow cream such as Marshmallow Fluff
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Make cakes:
    • Preheat oven to 350°F.
    • Whisk together flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt in a bowl until combined. Stir together buttermilk and vanilla in a small bowl.
    • Beat together butter and brown sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes in a standing mixer or 5 minutes with a handheld, then add egg, beating until combined well. Reduce speed to low and alternately mix in flour mixture and buttermilk in batches, beginning and ending with flour, scraping down side of bowl occasionally, and mixing until smooth.
    • Spoon ¼-cup mounds of batter about 2 inches apart onto 2 buttered large baking sheets. Bake in upper and lower thirds of oven, switching position of sheets halfway through baking, until tops are puffed and cakes spring back when touched, 11 to 13 minutes. Transfer with a turner to a rack to cool completely.
  • Make filling:
    • Beat together butter, confectioners sugar, marshmallow, and vanilla in a bowl with electric mixer at medium speed until smooth, about 3 minutes.
  • Assemble pies:
    • Spread a rounded tablespoon of filling on flat half of cakes and top with remaining cakes to create sandwiches.