Thursday, August 8, 2013

Chocolate gobs... or whoopie pies

I've got a serious question for you, and you best sit down for it.  Ready?  (That's not the question, smart aleck.)  Here goes:

Are you Team Gob or Team Whoopie Pie?  Or are you Team I-didn't-know-they-were-the-same-thing-until-now?  If the latter is the case, I've got a story for you.

In college, my group of friends seemed to be interwoven like whoa.  Some people met living together in dorms, others had classes together and struck up friendships that way, and a few even went to high school together.  The way I met them was through a former high school classmate of mine, who also happened to be my roommate freshman year.  She befriended a guy in her intro to economics class and introduced us.  Got all that?

I was casually dating this dude (friend of my roommate's) and gradually met his friends, some of whom happened to be his housemates, too.  As is standard, I talked about my friends and he talked about his friends, one of whom he referred to as Trip.  From the sound of it, Trip was a crazy guy with a great sense of humor, who loved to bike and party, and was goofy to a fault.  I eventually met him and could place a face with Trip's name; he was a mystery no more.

I also met one of Dude's housemates, Nick and subsequently Nick's friend from high school slash budding love interest.  (They are now married.  Yay!)  Natalie and I instantly clicked, and she's one of my best friends to this very day.

So, as girls do when they're getting to know each other, we hung out, grabbed food (I miss Wendy's Wednesdays!), and talked about classes, interests, and friends we'd eventually meet and make our own.  One such friend was her chemistry lab partner, Josh.  Natalie described him as a quirky guy who was super smart, funny and incredibly sweet.  She even lovingly referred to him as "my Josh." 

One Friday, as plans came together for a house party, Natalie informed me that Josh would be attending and I'd finally be able to meet him.  After a flurry of activity on AIM (2003 was pre-text messaging), it was confirmed that all of the regulars would be there, including Dude's friend, Trip, too!

I don't remember specifics, but I know we were having a grand ol' time.  I mingled with all of the housemates, as well as their friends, like Trip.  Shortly thereafter, Natalie arrived and we started chatting.  "Oh, you've got to meet Josh!  Nick said he's here.  Let's go find him."  So we did.  And that's when I came face to face with Trip.

"This is Josh from chem lab," Natalie said.
"That's Trip!" I squeaked.

In short, Josh was Trip, and Trip was Josh!  My mind = officially blown.

As luck would have it, Trip/Josh happened to be all of the things that people described him to be and helped to make college a total blast and very unforgettable.  He's even the star of a few stories that have become legend in our circle, but I think it's best if we return to the real star of of this post - the cookies.

Chocolate whoopie pies or gobs (if you're from western PA) are one of the most classic handheld desserts!  For the longest time, I didn't realize they were one and the same.  Once I became all the wiser, I loved 'em even more.  Soft cake-like cookies with a serious chocolate flavor sandwiched around the most fluffy sweet cream filling your taste buds have ever met. 

I've made my beloved mini pumpkin gobs so many times that I know the recipe like the back of my hand.  But the chocolate variety?  The last time I made these was in college, post Trip/Josh realization.  At least I know he didn't get a double dose of 'em.

What?  These are delicious, y'all.  Like, squirrel 'em away and not share them good.

So, I return to my original question.  Are you Team Gob or Team Whoopie Pie?

(A special thank you to my friend who let me borrow her chalkboard cheeseboard for these pictures.  She said it was a gift and doesn't know from where it came, sadly.  I need to get one of these for myself!  I had so much fun with it for this photo shoot.  Totally perfect!)

Chocolate Whoopie Pies
(cookie adapted from Martha Stewart, cream filling from Tasty Kitchen)
-makes 12 large or 24 small

A few notes: The cookies can be made up to 3 days ahead and kept in a airtight container at room temperature before filling.  And, as far as filling goes, if you're Team Loves-lots-of-filling, you might want to double the recipe.  Keep in mind you'll lose a little to quality control...

For cookies:
1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 Tablespoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 egg, room temperature
1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For cream filling:
2 1/2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.  In a medium bowl, whisk together dry ingredients for cookies and set that aside, too.

In the large bowl of an electric mixer on medium, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 to 4 minutes.  Add egg, buttermilk, and vanilla, and mix until combined.  With mixer speed on low, gradually add flour mixture, stirring just until no white streaks of flour remain.

Using a cookie scoop (I use this one), portion out batter on cookie sheets, roughly 3 inches apart.  For large cookies, use 2 scoops of batter; for small cookies, use 1 scoop.  Bake 12 minutes for large cookies or 10 minutes for small, and remove parchment paper to wire rack to cool completely.  Repeat with remaining batter.

While cookies are cooling, make icing.  In a small saucepan over low heat, whisk together flour and milk, stirring constantly until thick.  (You should be able to scrape bottom of pan with spatula and it should take a few seconds to cover that area.)  Remove from heat and cool completely.  Stir in vanilla.  In large bowl of an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar, beating on medium high until super light and fluffy, 4 to 5 minutes.  Add cooled flour mixture and "beat the heck out of it."  Really!

Spread (or scoop, one #40 scoop per sandwich worked for me or about 1 1/2 tablespoons) onto one cookie and top with other side.  Wrap whoopie pies with plastic wrap and store at room temperature for up to 3 days.

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