Monday, November 15, 2010

Chocolate-Orange Whoopie Pies with Vanilla Cream Filling

Adapted from Chocolate Obsession by Michael Recchiuti
Makes about 15 Whoopie Pies
For the pies:
2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1 extra-large egg, at room temperature
1 Tbl instant espresso powder
1/2 cup boiling water
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2/3 cup whole milk
1 cup roughly chopped candied orange peel (which, don’t forget, must be made at least
     a day ahead)
Preheat the oven to 325°F and arrange the two racks in the mid-upper and mid-lower positions.  Line three sheet pans with parchment paper and set aside.
Sift the flour, cocoa powder and salt together into a medium-sized mixing bowl, then whisk by hand to combine.  In a second, larger mixing bowl, whisk to combine the sugar and egg.  In a third, medium-sized mixing bowl, combine the espresso powder with the boiling water.  Stir to dissolve then add the oil and milk and stir to combine. 
Add half of the flour mixture to the sugar-egg mixture and whisk to combine, then add the coffee-mixture to this and whisk again until smooth.  Add the rest of the flour mixture and whisk until just smooth.  Fold in the orange peel using a rubber spatula. 
Drop the batter by heaping tablespoons onto the parchment-lined sheet pans, spacing them about 2-inches apart.  Try to aim for 30 pies in all.
Bake, first two pans and then the one, until the pies are puffed and set, but still soft enough to hold a slight indentation when pressed with the fingertip, about 12 minutes.  Make sure to rotate the pans, switching positions and turning them 180°, about half-way through the baking time.  Let cool completely on the pans, placed on wire cooling racks. 
Whoopie Pie Cookies
Technically, though I wouldn’t advise it, the pies can be stored in an air-tight container at room temperature for up to 1 weeks.  Make sure to place sheets of parchment paper between separate layers of the pies, to keep them from sticking together.  And even with this precaution, arranging one pie on top of the next like this tends to mar the smooth top surfaces of the cookie.  They’ll still be insanely yummy, but if aesthetics count to you, I’d advise storing these in a single layer with nothing (not even plastic wrap) touching their tops.  Alternatively, just don’t store them at all, and assemble the pies with the whipped cream filling soon after they cool.
For the filling:
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 Tbl plus 1 tsp powdered sugar
1/2 vanilla bean, split length-wise
Combine the cream, vanilla extract and powdered sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitter with a whisk attachment.  Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the cream mixture.  (Discard the remaining pod.)  Whisk on medium speed to medium-stiff peaks. 
Dollop a good scoop of cream onto the center of the bottom surface of one pie.  Top with a second pie, bottom side down, and press gently to adhere the filling to the pies.  Store, uncovered and in a single layer, in a cool place until serving. 


Candied Citrus Peels
Adapted from Chocolate Obsession by Michael Recchiuti

Candied Orange Peels

6 large oranges OR 4 medium Ruby Red grapefruits 
5 cups granulated sugar
4 1/4 cups water
2/3 cups light corn syrup

Cut the fruit into six equal wedges through the stem end.  Pull out the flesh of the fruit (the part we normally eat) and save for another use or a snack.  Leave the pithy white underside of the skin in place. 

1. Orange Slices

2. Orange Peels

Fill a large saucepot with water and bring it to a boil over high heat.  Add the citrus peels to the boiling water.  Keep the heat on high, and allow the water to return to a boil, stirring occasionally.  As you wait for the water to boil, fill a large mixing bowl with ice water.  Drain the peels from the boiling water in a colander, then plunge the peels into the ice water.  (This is the first of three times you’re going to do all of this.  But don’t get ahead of yourself – step 3 is a little bit different.)

Refill the saucepot with water and bring to a boil again.  Drain the peels from the ice water, then again add them to the boiling water and wait for the water to return to a boil.  Drain the peels again, and then again plunge them into a new bowl of ice water. 

Refill the saucepot with water for a third time, and again bring to a boil over high heat.  This time, while you are waiting for the water to boil, slice off about half of the thickness of the white pith from each piece of citrus peel.  It’s best to use a thin, sharp, flexible knife to do this, such as a fillet knife.  Discard the slices of pith. 

Place the peels in the boiling water for a final time, and again return the water to the boil, then drain the peels from the boiling water and plunge them into the ice water.  Drain them from the ice water when cooled. 

3. Orange Peels in Water, Bringing Back to a Boil

4. Peels with Pith Sliced Off

Now it’s time to candy the peels.  Stir together the sugar, water and corn syrup in a large saucepot.  Place the pot over medium heat and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar.  Meanwhile, cut 2 rounds of parchment paper slightly wider than the circumference of the pot.  When the sugar syrup comes to a boil, add the citrus peels and bring back to a simmer.  Cover the peels with the 2 sheets of parchment paper, to keep them submerged in the sugar syrup.  Adjust the heat to low or medium-low to maintain a bare simmer.  Cook until the pith is soft and the peel begins to look translucent, about 1 hour 20 minutes.  Turn off the heat and allow the citrus peels to cool in the sugar syrup, at room temperature overnight, with the parchment paper in place and undisturbed.

The next day, transfer the citrus peels and syrup to an air-tight container and store in the refrigerator.  The candied peels will keep indefinitely.

5. Orange Peels Simmering in Sugar Syrup, Covered with Parchment

6. Candied Orange Peels in Sugar Syrup

For an extra special treat:
While you can use the candied citrus peels just as they are for recipes like the Chocolate-Orange Whoopie Pies, they’re really, especially lovely all on their own, dusted with sugar.  To do this, first remove the peels from the syrup.  Rinse off the syrup in cool running water.  Slice the pieces lengthwise into 1/4-inch-wide strips.  Place a wire cooling rack over a parchment paper or foil-lined sheet pan, then arrange the strips of candied citrus over the rack.  Leave them at room temperature overnight, or until dry.  Place granulated sugar in a bowl. Add the dried peel, a few strips at a time, and toss to coat evenly with sugar.  Store in an air-tight container in a cool, dry place (but not in a refrigerator).

Air-Drying the Sliced Candied Orange Peels

Dipped In Sugar