Did you grow up in a time and place when you could get Whoopie Pies? I don't remember them, for some reason, and I grew up in small-town Illinois in the Fifties. Perhaps the best information about them comes from Wikipedia:
"While considered a New England phenomenon and a Pennsylvania Amish tradition, they are increasingly sold throughout the United States. According to food historians, Amish women would bake these desserts (known as hucklebucks, or creamy turtles at the time) and put them in farmers' lunch pails or lunch boxes. When farmers would find the treats in their lunch, they would shout "Whoopie!" It is thought that the original Whoopie pies may have been made from cake batter leftovers."
Now that makes sense; sometimes you do have leftover cake batter and I have dealt with it in various ways, including overfilling my cake pans and suffering the consequences. But a tablespoon of batter on a cookie sheet would cook up into a soft, fluffy cookie that could be used to make a "frosting sandwich," and that seems to be where Whoopie Pies came from.
However, a recipe that was provided in the New Year's issue of the King Arthur Flour Company catalog brings this homespun baked treat right into the party, I must say. If you will pick up some good baking cocoa at one of Tucson's high-end food stores like Sprouts, where I find the greatest selection of chocolate, you can make a new, improved Whoopie Pie that will give brownies a run for their money.
Brownies are a basic black dress of the food kingdom, since we can dress them up to the nines with caramel, marshmallow, chocolate chips and nuts (for starters), but mocha Whoopie Pies are a formidable competitor. I can safely predict that they would knock the socks off your dinner guests. Just make a light dinner, such as a seafood pasta with salad and wine, and then stun everyone with this little old hucklebuck:
MOCHA WHOOPEE PIES
From King Arthur Flour Company
1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
1 cup brown sugar, packed
2-1/3 cups all-purpose flour
3 Tablespoons espresso powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup baking cocoa
1 cup milk
2 cups semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 cup heavy cream
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Whisk together in a mixing bowl the dry ingredients and set the bowl aside.
Beat together the butter and powdered sugar until they are light, and then beat in the egg until it disappears.
Fold in the dry ingredients and the milk alternately until everything is incorporated and you cannot see streaks or lumps in the batter.
Drop the batter by Tablespoons-full to a baking sheet, leaving 2 inches between the rounds. Bake the cakes for 10-12 minutes or until they test done. Remove the baking sheets from the oven and allow the cakes to cool for 10 minutes and then transfer them to a wire rack to cool.
Make the filling: heat the cream to just below simmering in a saucepan. Meanwhile, place the chocolate in a medium mixing bowl. When the cream is hot, pour it over the chocolate and stir to melt it. Cool the mixture to room temperature and refrigerate it for several hours.
When the chocolate mixture is set, remove it from the refrigerator and beat it until it becomes creamy. Spread the filling on the flat side of one of the cakes, and then add another cake, flat side down.
This is going to be pretty rich as a filling--it's actually a whipped ganache. But it does give you an amazing dessert.
What springs to mind immediately is the idea of experimenting with different cake flavors, such as white and yellow cake, gingerbread and so forth. Some shortcuts to filling could be the Marshmallow Fluff (from Kraft) that is used frequently to make fudge, as well as packaged frosting mixes. I have also seen Cool Whip Frosting in the freezer section of my local Fry's Supermarket in Tucson, which would work about the same as ice cream, which takes you into yet another area of frozen desserts. But I think that this mocha recipe is pretty formidable, and if your guests have their way you might be serving it forever. That makes it another candidate for a Signature Dish, and be my guest.