My whoopie pies have a sweet marshmallow filling sandwiched between rich chocolate cake for a classic New England dessert – but without the shortening! Ready in less than 30 minutes, and perfectly paired with a cold glass of milk, a White Chocolate Mocha, or a Honey Vanilla Latte.
Whoopie pies are a New England staple – specifically Maine. But it’s one of those desserts that’s on the counter in every single cafe in the Northeast.
If you’ve never had a whoopie pie, think of them as little chocolate cake hamburgers. Maybe I’ll start a petition to rename them as such – who’s with me?
… just me? Okay, fine. Moving on.
The whoopie pie controversy
That’s right, I said controversy. Over a dessert.
Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Virginia all claim to be the birthplace of the original whoopie pie! A company or family in each state claims they were the first to start making them in the 1920s, but since the paper trail on any of that is slim-to-none, there’s not really a definitive answer.
There was a cookbook published in the 1930s by the company that originally made Marshmallow Fluff and they use Fluff in the recipe – so that’s a pretty solid argument for Massachusetts as the origin (since it’s a company in Lynn, MA).
The components of a whoopie pie
The name is not only silly-sounding, but also deceiving. They’re not pies at all – they’re actually cakes with a marshmallow creme frosting in the center. Another argument for me to have them renamed Little Chocolate Cake Hamburgers – just sayin’.
Whoopie pie filling is also traditionally (and famously, I might add) made with shortening. I’m not a huge fan of using shortening in general, and since I know there are other people who feel the same way, I wanted to make a version that was shortening-free!
Tips for making whoopie pies
I was so eager to get this recipe photographed (and eaten) that I 100% forgot to take process shots. Pretty sure I remembered right around the time I was biting into my second whoopie pie (you know, for taste testing purposes). [facepalm] I’ll make them again soon and get those updated here for you, I swear.
Until then, it’s thankfully a pretty straightforward process.
Making the chocolate cakes
- You need the batter to be firm enough to be scooped, because a liquidy batter won’t be able to hold its structure to bake, or to support the filling.
- Speaking of scoops, I like to use a medium cookie scoop to portion dough onto a baking sheet – it’s the perfect size.
- You want the cakes to be thin enough that you can still bite into it when they’re stacked two high, but also have a nice gradual mound in the center.
- When baking, you want to make sure you’re leaving enough room between each cake so they can spread. I wouldn’t do more than 5 on a baking sheet at a time, just to be safe.
- Make sure you let the cakes cool completely before you sandwich them with the filling, otherwise they’ll be tacky and difficult to work with.
Making the marshmallow filling
- You want to beat the filling until it’s thick enough to support being sandwiched between two cakes, but not SO thick that you couldn’t easily pipe it with a pastry bag.
- Taste test before you call it a day. If you find that it’s overly sweet for your tastes, add a pinch of salt – just keep in mind that it will be complemented by less-sweet cake in the end.
Assembling your whoopie pies
- I start by flipping half of the cakes over and matching them up by size with another half that will go on top. They should all be pretty similar in size, but you might have some variance that’s worth matching them up with a buddy.
- I like to use a pastry bag with the tip cut off to pipe it onto each cake half in a spiral shape. Leave about ¼″ around the edge so that when you add the other cake half on top, the filling has a little room to spread.
These are really rich, and really filling – so you don’t have to worry too much about devouring the whole batch in one sitting. If you did… well, I’d like to meet you and shake your hand after you’ve slept it off.
If you taste the chocolate cakes on their own, it might seem underwhelming. And if you taste the filling on its own, you might think it’s too sweet (or not sweet enough, depending on your tastes). But if you put the two together… it’s some sort of sugary magic.
Storing your whoopie pies
Wrap each one in plastic wrap, stick them in an airtight container, and store them in the fridge for up to a week. The plastic wrap keeps them individually wrapped so they’re easy to grab and go, but also keeps them from sticking together.
I also find that storing them in the fridge makes them easier to eat because the filling doesn’t squish out the sides as much as it would at room temperature.
When you’re ready to eat them, let them sit out on the counter for about 15 minutes first and then go to town.
Word to the wise: Make sure you’ve got a mirror, a napkin, and a toothbrush handy.
If not, everyone will know you’ve just devoured a whoopie pie by the chocolate cake in your teeth and the marshmallow creme on your face… but it’s totally worth it.
After you’ve made this recipe, please consider coming back to share your experience with others by leaving a comment below with a star rating!
Chocolate Whoopie Pies
- ½ cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 1 ¼ cup light brown sugar, packed
- 1 egg, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- ½ cup cocoa powder
- 1 ¼ teaspoons baking soda
- ½ teaspoon espresso powder
- Large pinch of salt, up to ⅛ teaspoon
- 1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
- 1 cup marshmallow creme, (Fluff)
- ½ cup butter, softened to room temperature
- 1 – 1 ½ cups powdered sugar, sifted
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon heavy cream, more if needed
- Preheat oven to 350ºF and line two baking sheets with nonstick silicon mats or parchment paper. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine butter and brown sugar and whip on high speed until light and fluffy.
- Add egg and vanilla, and beat to combine.
- In a separate large mixing bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, espresso powder and salt and whisk to combine.
- With the mixer on a low speed, add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, alternating with the buttermilk until just combined.
- Use a medium cookie scoop to portion dough onto prepare baking sheets. You want to make sure you’re leaving enough room (about 2″) between each cake so they can spread. I wouldn’t do more than 5 on a baking sheet at a time, just to be safe.
- Bake for 9-11 minutes, or until the tops spring back when touched.
- Let cool on baking sheets for 5 minutes, then move to wire racks to cool completely.
- In a large bowl, combine marshmallow Fluff and butter and beat on high speed until well combined and smooth.
- Add 1 cup of the powdered sugar, vanilla extract and heavy cream and beat until well combined. If it’s too thin, add more of the powdered sugar a little at a time until you have the desired consistency.
- If you feel it’s too sweet for your tastes, add a pinch of salt.
- Start by flipping half of the cooled cakes over and matching them up by size with another half that will go on top.
- Fill a pastry bag with the tip cut off (or plastic sandwich bag) with filling and pipe it onto each cake half in a spiral shape. Leave about ¼″ around the edge so that when you add the other cake half on top, the filling has a little room to spread.
- Top each with the other cake half. Serve and enjoy!
- Equipment: You don’t need a fancy whoopie pie pan to make the chocolate cakes! Just use a standard baking sheet lined with nonstick silicon mats or parchment paper.
- Batter: The batter should be firm enough to be scooped, because a liquidy batter won’t be able to hold its structure to bake, or to support the filling. I like to use a medium cookie scoop to portion the batter.
- Cooling: Make sure you let the cakes cool completely before you sandwich them with the filling, otherwise they’ll be tacky and difficult to work with.
- Storage: Wrap each whoopie pie in plastic wrap and then place in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week.