I wanted to create a Candida Can-do version of one of my favorite summer treats from childhood: the Whoopie pie.
These little dessert cakes have a sweet, nostalgic taste, and are definitely a cause for celebration.
Whoopie pies come in all combinations of cakes and fillings, but the classic combo is a sweet and buttery vanilla frosting, sandwiched between two moist chocolate cakes.
This is my no-grain, no-sugar update on a piece of Americana. Though several northeast states claim to be the birthplace of the Whoopie Pie, my memory stems from tucking into these soft, cakey treats during my misty summers in Downeast Maine.
It is difficult enough to develop a spin-off that lives up to your expectations of the recipe, let alone to try and remake a dessert you associate with so many fond memories. Baking a Whoopie pie that was diet friendly but didn’t disappoint was going to be a challenge.
Luckily, I do not shy away from a challenge, and when the baking was done these bite-size, Can-do Whoopies had me jumping for joy.
The almond flour in these cakes makes them denser than the traditional Whoopie pie, and the subtle nuttiness gives them an earthier flavor than the factory-made counterparts I grew up with. To make the cake more delicate, I cut the nut flour with a cup of coconut flour. This composition keeps them moist and super satisfying.
The secret to making these pies taste deceptively decadent is to boost the chocolate flavor of the cocoa powder with two well-chosen ingredients: salt and coffee.
If you don’t already know this trick, you should. In baking, a pinch of salt and a bit of instant coffee or espresso will add depth to chocolate flavor without stealing the show. Be aware that coffee has a strong flavor of its own, so if you don’t want to go Mocha use a light touch.
The key to the cream filling is full-fat coconut milk, which has a velvety consistency. By blending this with butter and a little vanilla stevia you get a Candida Can-do substitute for all the Ho-Ho, Yodel, and Oreo fillings that haunt your sugar-free dreams. This frosting is light and luxurious, and above all, natural! It is sweet with a subtle coconut taste that takes it from simply saccharine to sophisticated.
Enough talk; let’s get down to the business of baking these tantalizing treats.
For the cake you will need the following:
2 cups almond flour
1 cup coconut flour
¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp instant coffee
2 tsp baking powder
1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
¼ cup melted butter
2 tsp liquid stevia
4 tsp vanilla extract
And for the frosting:
½ stick salted butter
1 can (13 oz) unsweetened coconut milk (full fat content only)
¼ tsp vanilla liquid stevia
In a large bowl, add together your flours, cocoa powder, salt, coffee (I used Starbucks’ Via because it has a fine grind and a bold flavor), and baking powder. Stir until your dry ingredients are evenly mixed.
In a separate bowl, whisk your eggs, almond milk, and stevia. Then pour in your melted butter in a slow but steady stream, taking care to keep whisking as you do so in order to integrate it evenly without cooking the eggs.
Add your wet ingredients to your dry and stir to combine. You should have a thick and sticky mix, more akin to cookie dough than to cake batter. If your dough appears too dry and crumbly, you can add a little more almond milk.
Be careful your dough doesn’t get too wet or you won’t be able to shape it.
Since these little dough balls won’t change much in the oven, make sure that when you place them on your parchment-lined baking sheet, the shape is more or less how you want it to turn out. Molding them roughly with your fingers will do just fine. I used a teaspoon to scoop a uniform amount of dough each time, then shaped the dough on the parchment paper into a small mound about half an inch high and one inch across.
Space these cakes at least half an inch apart.
Once your baking sheet is filled, place your cakes into a 350 degree oven. Bake them for four minutes, then rotate your baking sheet and bake for another four minutes. This will ensure even cooking.
After the second four minutes, remove them from the oven. Let them cool for five minutes before you touch them, otherwise when you attempt to transfer them they will crumble. After they have cooled, move your baked cakes off of the sheet and prepare your next batch.
Once you have baked all your cakes, set them on a platter or cooling rack and place them in the fridge to chill. The colder they are, the more successful you will be when you apply the cream filling (warm cakes will melt your frosting).
While your cakes are chilling, you can start on your frosting.
In a medium sized bowl, cream a ½ stick of salted, room temperature butter, and a ¼ tsp of vanilla liquid stevia. If you can’t find vanilla liquid stevia, you can use a ¼ tsp of vanilla extract and a ¼ tsp of liquid stevia for the same effect.
Once the butter, vanilla, and stevia are integrated, open a can of unsweetened, full-fat coconut milk.
The coconut milk should have separated in the can into two components: one liquid, and one denser and buttery. Skim the thickened coconut milk off the top, leaving the liquid in the can (you can freeze this for another recipe).
Add this viscous coconut milk into your softened butter and mix vigorously until they are creamed together.
It may be difficult to integrate your coconut milk and butter, so I would recommend using a rubber spatula in order to optimize your mixing (or an electric beater if you have one). Once your frosting resembles a smooth, slightly loose icing, cover it and place it in the fridge to solidify.
After about thirty minutes, both your cakes and frosting should be cooled and ready to be assembled into Whoopie pies.
Scoop a dollop of frosting onto the center of one of your cakes. With gentle and even pressure, press another cake on top. The pressure should spread the cream filling evenly to the edges.
Once all of your cakes have been sandwiched with cream, place all of your finished Whoopie pies back in the fridge. This will allow the cake and filling to set.
I would recommend enjoying your Whoopie pies cold or at room temperature. If the pies get too warm, you may find inconveniences like slipping cakes or dripping frosting.
That being said, don’t worry if they’re a little less than picture perfect; they are delicious no matter what.
These bite-sized Whoopie pies are a total throwback to the afterschool snack cakes of your past.
It was love at first bite. As I munched my way through the batch I could smell the foggy sea air; I could feel the warmth of the hearth fire; and I could hear clearly the slogan on those bygone Whoopie Pie wrappers ringing in my ears:
“Whoopie, it’s a Whoopie!”