fluff-y whoopie pie petits fours: love new england

17 Sep

El at Fresh New England recently posted an ode to Vermont, hard hit in places by Hurricane Irene flooding, in the form of a delicious Love Vermont Fudge Cake. After reading of her call for others to make this cake, or another chocolatey delight, in support of Vermont, I began to mentally flip through my list of chocolate cakes I’d love to try. While I have no deep connection to Vermont, I have taken advantage of its ample outdoor recreation opportunities, as well as it’s moderate chocolate opportunities.

While El’s cake looked (and continues to look) amazing and tantalizing, I knew I wanted to make something on a smaller scale. My mind immediately jumped to petits fours, which I’ve been interested in making for some time. As I contemplated the benefits of dense chocolate cake (dense cake makes for excellent petits fours) versus the lightness of chocolate sponge cake (sponge cake makes for excellent…. nibbling?), I had a brief baking epiphany. Try to follow along with the inner workings of my mind:

I currently live in central Maine. Maine claims the whoopie pie as its dessert child (sorry, Pennsylvania). This is a child I would like to care for, and nurture. And EAT. Maine hosts a Whoopie Pie Festival each year, which I have proudly attended, ate myself sick at, and taken home a t-shirt from. I had never made whoopie pies before. Wait – – there’s more. What if I were to make a chocolate sponge cake, and alternate it with layers of Fluff-y frosting; after all, Fluff (jarred marshmallow creme) is a principally northeastern US product. And then, to cap it off, what if I were to drown the whole affair in some poured chocolate fondant?

Rather than just Love Vermont, I would like to let these cakes represent my love for all of New England. Love New England. Moving to the northeast just over two years ago, I expected little more than strange accents and occasional lucky glimpses of the Atlantic Ocean. But I have found much more. I have found friendship and love from many here, and have learned to open myself up more fully, in response. I have experienced the closeness and familiarity that often seems to be thwarted where I grew up, in the square-built grids of the Midwest. I have fallen for the beauty that is all around me, from the mountains of Vermont and New Hampshire, to the chocolate shops I adore in Boston, to the rugged Maine coastline, to the breathtaking back-roads scenery of western Massachusetts. Connecticut and Rhode Island, I haven’t forgotten you. But I also haven’t thoroughly experienced you.

Not knowing where I will end up heading when I make the next big move come December, I may find myself bidding adieu to New England, at least temporarily. But I have found that the ties that bind are strong here, and I know that it will be easy to keep my experiences as memories cherished close at heart.

As you may notice, these aren’t your typical petits fours. They are light, and fluffy, and practically melt in your mouth. I considered calling them fours moyens or grands fours, but they are still relatively small. While paying homage to Vermont and all of New England, these small treats are also dedicated to one of my favorite mixing bowls, which bit the dust during the whole process.

I should have known better than to repeatedly use my feisty hand mixer in my jadeite mixing bowls. I should have, and I did; I just chose not to abide by my own rules. Now I have a bottomless bowl that gave me a moderately deep cut, begging for some sort of artistic use. Also now, I have finally used up that jar of Fluff that I bought back in early 2009. Good thing Fluff never expires, right?*

These are not true petits fours, which I would still like to attempt, with a dense cake recipe, and with a more successful poured fondant. The chocolate I used in the fondant contained too much cocoa butter, I believe, leading to a drippy consistency that seemed much more ganache-like in practice. I find that these misgivings don’t trouble me, however, as the end product was delicious and well-received.

*Accept this solid statement if you wish, although it may not be true.

Fluff-y Whoopie Pie Petits Fours {original recipe}

Chocolate Sponge Cake

++Ingredients:++

6 eggs, separated
5 oz. chopped baking chocolate, 55-70% cacao content
1/4 c. + 2 tbsp. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
3/4 tsp. cream of tartar

++Directions:++

Butter a 15 x 10 inch cake pan. Line with parchment paper, butter again, and dust with cocoa powder.

Melt chocolate over low heat or in a double boiler, and let cool.

Beat egg yolks and 1/4 cup sugar for 3 to 5 minutes, until fluffy and of a light (but thick) consistency. Add the vanilla. Add chocolate and beat to combine. Set aside.

With clean beaters and a clean bowl, beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Add cream of tartar, and beat to stiff peaks. Add remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar slowly, and beat back to stiff peaks.

Fold a small amount of the egg whites into the chocolate/yolk mixture. Fold in the remaining egg whites in two portions, combining until just incorporated (don’t overincorporate, I mean it. Subway sandwich shops, I’m looking at you). Spread batter into the prepared pan, and bake in a 350 F oven for 13-16 minutes on the center rack.

Fluff-y Frosting

++Ingredients:++

1 c. butter, softened
1 – 1 1/2 c. powdered sugar
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 – 3/4 tsp. almond extract
1/2 – 1 jar Marshmallow Fluff (or other jarred marshmallow creme)
Pinch salt

++Directions:++

Combine all ingredients and mix well. Add additional components of Fluff and almond extract if stronger flavors are desired.

Poured Chocolate Fondant

++Ingredients:++

6 c. powdered sugar, sifted
1/2 c. water (+1 tablespoon, if needed)
2 tbsp. corn syrup
3 – 4 oz. unsweetened chocolate, melted
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. almond extract

++Directions:++

Combine sugar, water and corn syrup in a saucepan, and stir well over low heat until mixture reaches 92 F on a candy thermometer.

Stir in melted chocolate, after after mixing, add vanilla and almond extract. Keep warm above a bowl of (frequently-changed) hot water if using in the near future, or allow to cool and reheat when needed.

++Whoopie Pie Petits Fours Assembly:++

Turn cooled cake out onto cocoa powder-ed surface; cut out desired shapes in matching pairs. Place cut-out cake on a cooling rack. Spread frosting on half of the cake pieces, and top with remaining cakelets. When fondant is ready, warm, and waiting, bring rack over sink and scoop cupfuls over each petit four. Repeat until cakes are fully covered. Set aside and allow to set.

Share with good friends, discuss the wondrousness that is New England, and appreciate that your home and life were not destroyed by flash floods.

Please take the time to read the inspiration for this post, El’s Love Vermont Fudge Cake, and to find others similarly inspired by her devotion to the New England I have loved calling home for the past two years.

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31 Responses to “fluff-y whoopie pie petits fours: love new england”

  1. Maris (in Good Taste) 2011/09/17 at 08:56 #

    These look mouthwatering good! The pictures are fantastic! Maine must be so gorgeous this time of year

    • emma schultz 2011/09/19 at 11:36 #

      Maris, they were mouth-Fluff-ingly good, to be precise. Indeed, Maine is gorgeous this time of year. This past weekend took me across Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and into New York, and the scenery was awe-inspiringly beautiful the entire way. The leaves, they are a-changing:)

  2. sarah 2011/09/17 at 13:44 #

    WOW. I think I could just sit with a spoon and have at that filling. My mom’s family is from the east coast and Fluff was like a myth – a great legend. I had a friend bring me some from New York and I then experienced all that is great about that jar of sweet.
    They actually sell it here in the west now. We can use it for our jello atrocities!

    • emma schultz 2011/09/19 at 11:38 #

      sarah, hah. Jello atrocities. Yuck. I love jello, but try to stay away from atrocities as best I can. Defining atrocities as any and all jello salads including a white component and/or nuts.

      The filling was pretty amazing, it was by far the best part of these – and the only part that didn’t involve a fiasco or minor crisis. So buttery, so Fluff-y, so sugary, so good.

  3. Brianne 2011/09/17 at 21:31 #

    YUM. I, too, have developed mad love for Maine since moving here. I haven’t spent much time in the other parts of New England…I guess I’ve been hunting too many lighthouses.

    • emma schultz 2011/09/19 at 11:40 #

      Brianne, at first I read this as “haunting too many lighthouses.” Which would be good, too, but somewhat creepy and reminiscent of Shutter Island (also creepy).

      I think I like Vermont’s scenic vistas the best out of the fine NE states. However, VT has no rugged and rocky coastlines. Maine wins for that, by far. Mad love!

  4. Hannah 2011/09/18 at 00:03 #

    What a lovely ode to your life in New England. I recommend more baking epiphanies, more eternally-lasting jars of Fluff (particularly as Fluff doesn’t exist here in Australia), more opening up to new friendships and new happinesses, and ultimately a move to Australia.

    Particularly the last art.

    • emma schultz 2011/09/19 at 11:43 #

      Hannah: Thank you for all of this sudden advice. When someone prophetizes such delights as baking epiphanies and eternally-lasting jars of Fluff, who am I to refuse? No one, that’s who. And who am I to use words such as prophetize? Someone. Someone who is dreaming of eternally-lasting days of mowing down on ther eternal jars of Fluff, that’s who.

      I would love to move to Australia, if only for a week:)

      • Hannah 2011/09/19 at 18:21 #

        I shall get the spare bed ready for you!

        • emma schultz 2011/09/20 at 07:25 #

          I’ve always had a thing for spare room beds… Sleeping in one such as yours would fulfill all of my dreams!

          Thanks for indulging me in my Anne moment:)

          • Hannah 2011/09/20 at 07:43 #

            We’ll definitely send light signals to each other down the corridor!

            • emma schultz 2011/09/20 at 09:57 #

              Didja know I visited the Green Gables farmhouse last year?:)

              • Hannah 2011/09/20 at 18:59 #

                My face is the shape of envy.

                • emma schultz 2011/09/20 at 21:24 #

                  And my face is the shape of the Anne of Green Gables farmhouse. Boooooooyah!

                  • Hannah 2011/09/21 at 09:29 #

                    Oh wow, I totally got the better deal just then.

  5. Mary at n00bcakes 2011/09/19 at 15:25 #

    These look adorable and delicious. As usual your pictures are stunning, and your lovely ode to New England brings a tear to my eye! I’m predominantly a southern girl and haven’t had the opportunity to seriously contrast 2 very different living locations; I think it’s so interesting you’ve found such a personal connection to a place in which you didn’t grow up.

    Also, RIP you’re excellent mixing bowl. -_-

    • emma schultz 2011/09/20 at 07:30 #

      Mary: Thank you for the kind words, and for your emotions:) I would love to live somewhere with strikingly different scenery, but we’ll see – all my training has been on these northern forest types.The south intrigues me so much. I never imagined myself living there until recently; I’m so scared of the snakes and the giant poison ivy and all the other things that could kill me. But the food is so good, and the hospitality so charming, and there is so definitely something about it.

      RIP beautiful bowl:(

  6. hungryandfrozen 2011/09/20 at 06:53 #

    Although I’ve never been there, New England has a place in my heart always, because of Connecticut being the home of the Baby-Sitters club. These grand-petit fours look stunning, a delightful meeting of elegant and…Fluff :) And the Whoopie Pie Festival sounds like something worth booking flights for, seriously.

    • emma schultz 2011/09/20 at 07:34 #

      Laura, hah! I’m so glad you went straight to the heart of the issue here. Really, it all comes back to Stonybrook, Connecticut. Fictional, maybe. Inspiring? Ohhhh yeah!

      I was so sad that I couldn’t make it to the whoopie pie festival this year. It conflicted with something that may have been important (I don’t remember now), but I almost had a lack of sugar coma-induced heart attack upon discovering that I couldn’t go. Oh yes, it was a friend’s wedding that weekend. Definitely more important! But also definitely not as painfully tasty!

  7. Silvia 2011/09/20 at 15:53 #

    These look great! (And too bad about the bowl)

    • emma schultz 2011/09/20 at 21:25 #

      Silvia, I suppose I will just have to purchase some more – and then be more careful with them. Luckily, I still have a larger jadeite mixing bowl. I can look at it fondly, and remember the good ole days.

      These tasted great!

  8. Shoeless 2011/09/21 at 12:49 #

    SO glad I found your blog! Chocolate, forestry management and travel…my kinda girl!

    • emma schultz 2011/09/21 at 13:36 #

      Chris, I’m so glad you found me too! Stay tuned for much more of all of the above – it’s great to have you on board:)

  9. Kat @ Big Apple Little Kitchen 2011/09/21 at 17:15 #

    I love Fluff but haven’t had it is SO long! I think this recipe is a big must-try!!

    • emma schultz 2011/09/21 at 21:38 #

      Kat: Well, I just saw jars upon jars advertised at my local grocery for ONLY $1.79 EACH!!! I considered buying my weight in Fluff, but I doubt I could crate all of that out of the store.

      If you do try this, let me know how it works for you. If not, at least adapt the Fluff icing to something else – it will be worth it, trust me:)

  10. Jessica 2011/09/22 at 21:58 #

    These are such a great idea! I’ve always heard that petits fours can be overly sweet, but I imagine these aren’t with the dark chocolate. Whoopie Fours! And are those prep photos I see?? :D

    • emma schultz 2011/09/28 at 12:35 #

      Jessica, I can see how regular petits fours could be considered overly sweet… for weaklings! Just kidding, with a denser cake it would be easy to overload on sugar.

      I will have you know that those prep photos were inspired by YOU!

      Whoopie fours, indeed:)

  11. Simply Life 2011/09/24 at 14:59 #

    oh my! I’m drooling over those photos!

    • emma schultz 2011/09/28 at 12:36 #

      Eep! I suppose I drooled a bit too – – but that only helped them slide into my tummy all the more quickly:D

  12. Mum 2011/09/26 at 15:24 #

    Thank GOODNESS you have finally used up that Fluff…I think that Fluff and Peeps must be cut from the same cloth–wait–no, made from the same–wait–there has to be more than sugar in there, doesn’t there? ~WHEW~ Whatever, they do look pretty good, and pretty, too, on your new tiered serving thingy!

    • emma schultz 2011/09/28 at 12:38 #

      Mum, now now, the Fluff would have been fine on its own for at least another three decades. Still, I’m glad that I used it up, too. It means I can buy more!

      How sad am I that I didn’t make it to the Fluff Festival this past weekend?! Really sad, that’s how.

      I love my new tiered serving thingy – many thanks to Martha:)

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