Sunday, February 20, 2011

Of Whoopie Pies and PA Dutch Tradition---Move Along Maine!

This past week, Maine tried to steal from Pennsylvania one of the most iconic of foods, the Amish Whoopie Pie. Whoopie Pies are as PA Dutch, as Pot Pie! While popular in Maine for sure, there is no debate whatsoever that this is one item that belongs to PA. Maine wanted to select a state dessert, why in the world wouldn't they pick something as iconic to Maine as blueberries?

While there are several recipes, the filling portion of a whoopie is especially critical. The Amish actually make their own marshmallow, but quicker versions can use the commercial marshmallow cream. If you don't use the marshmallow cream and lots of 10X sugar, that filling just isn't going to be right.

While traditonally chocolate cake is used for the cookie parts, around here we make them pumpkin, red velvet, oatmeal, and chocolate with peanut butter marshmallow filling. All kinds of possible variations as long as the core basic stays the same.

Amish Whoopie Pie Recipe

1/2 cup solid vegetable shortening

1 cup firmly-packed brown sugar

1 egg

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 cup milk

Whoopie Pie Filling (see recipe below)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease baking sheets.

In a large bowl, cream together shortening, sugar, and egg. In another bowl, combine cocoa, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

In a small bowl, stir the vanilla extract into the milk. Add the dry ingredients to the shortening mixture, alternating with the milk mixture; beating until smooth.

Drop batter by the 1/4 cup (to make 18 cakes) onto prepared baking sheets. With the back of a spoon spread batter into 4-inch circles, leaving approximately 2 inches between each cake.

Bake 15 minutes or until they are firm to the touch. Remove from oven and let cool completely on a wire rack.

Make Whoopie Pie Filling. When the cakes are completely cool, spread the flat side (bottom) of one chocolate cake with a generous amount of filling. Top with another cake, pressing down gently to distribute the filling evenly. Repeat with all cookies to make 9 pies. Let finished whoopie pies completely cool before wrapping.

Wrap whoopie pies individually in plastic wrap, or place them in a single layer on a platter (do not stack them, as they tend to stick).

To freeze, wrap each whoopie pie in plastic wrap. Loosely pack them in a plastic freezer container and cover. To serve, defrost the wrapped whoopie pies in the refrigerator.

Makes 9 large whoopie pies.

Whoopie Pie Filling:

For this recipe, you are basically making a homemade Marshmallow Fluff/Creme.

3 egg whites, room temperature

2 cups light corn syrup

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups sifted powdered (confectioner's) sugar

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

In large bowl of an electric mixer, add egg whites, corn syrup, and salt. Using your electric mixer on high speed, mix for approximately 5 minutes or until the mixture is thick and volume has almost doubled.

On low speed, add powdered sugar and mix until well blended. Add vanilla extract just until well blended.

Your homemade marshmallow fluff/cream is now ready to use on your Whoopie Pies or other recipes. Use immediately, or refrigerate in a covered container for up to 2 weeks.

Makes a large quantity.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Home Cookin' Favorites of the Polish Variety

This cold weather often has us craving a little bit heartier fare, keeping up energy out in the cold. Many of these dishes are also economical as working families here didn't have much money being farmers and miners etc. These dishes often made the most of small amounts of meat, cheap cuts of meat, and some used no meat at all.

I'll share pot pie (not a pie but a stew, the actual pie version is called meat pie here), pigeons, and haluski. Pierogis will be for another day as I can do a whole column just on them.

Pigeons (Blind Pigeons or Halupkies)

Meat Mixture:

2 lb ground beef
1/2 cooked rice
2 medium onions
3 tbs chopped fresh parsley
3 eggs, beaten
3 tbs worcestershire sauce
3/4 tsp pepper
dash of salt


1 large head of cooked cabbage (best and easiest to use a stock pot and boil the head whole, save the broth)
3 slices of smoked or peppercorn bacon
3 tbs worcestershire sauce
2 cans tomatoes
2 small cans tomato paste
1 onion
2 tbsp parlsey
a little sugar (on top)

Place the bacon in the bottom of a roasting pan. Wrap the mixed meat mixture in the cooked cabbage leaves and place the wraps in the bottom of the pan. Pour reserved cabbage water, tomatoes, and tomato paste (mixed) over top to cover. Slice onion and place along with worcestershire sauce, parlsey and a little sugar over the top. Cover with lid and bake 1 hr 45min at 35.  There are many different versions, I'll share some sites with variations of these. Each family has their "way".

Haluski (Cabbage and Noodles)

This is another popular and cheap dish to make.


2 C flour
pinch of salt
1 egg well beaten


1 lg chopped onion
2 tsp oil
1 medium head cabbage, chopped
2 tbs butter
garlic powder

Cabbage: saute onion in oil and add chopped cabbage. Steam until tender.

Dough: Add enough milk to make dough stiff when mixed. Roll out thin (1/8 inch) on floured board and cut into 2 in strips. Drop dough into boiling water and cook approx. 3 minutes. Drain, rinse and let dry a few minutes. Add dough to steamed cabbage to simmer about 30 minutes. I add the butter, garlic powder and pepper at this point while steaming before serving.

Pot Pie

Pot pie can be made with chicken, beef or ham. But around here, ham and chicken are the favorites. We often save the ham bone from a ham dinner or chicken bones left from a whole chicken dinner to use for the broth if using leftovers along with 3-4 cups of shredded leftover chicken or cubed leftover ham. You can make broth up in a pinch of you don't have these left overs with chicken or ham base, but it's not as good.


3-4 cups meat
2 qts water
2 cups chopped celery
1 cup diced carrots
med onion diced
4 medium potatoes cubed
garlic, salt and pepper to taste (I do not add salt to ham pot pie)
Cook meat/broth about 20-30 minutes, after coming to boil, I reduce heat to simmer.


1 c flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 egg

(for a big pot, I triple this)

Sift flour and baking powder, add egg beaten. Mix until crumbly and add just enough water to form stiff dough that can be rolled out on floured surface and cut into 2 in square patches. Do not over work or dough will be tough. Drop dough into boiling meat/broth and cook for another 15-20 minutes, turn off heat, cover, and let rest about 5 minutes.

We usually eat this on dinner plates or in shallow bowls with fresh bread, red beets, or lettuce with mayo dressing.

I mentioned some links with more recipes like this or variations. here are some good ones.

And my favorite ( you have to read the Coal Speak dictionary to really appreciate this):