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Mocha Whoopie Pies


Whoopie pies -- hand-held mini layer cakes -- are a dessert with mysterious roots.  While there is no consensus about their exact origins, several States -- including Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania -- claim to have invented this fabled dessert.  As one legend goes, Amish women would make these from bits of leftover cake batter and frosting.  Their husbands, upon discovering this treat in their packed lunches, would exclaim, “Whoopie!” :)

Whoopie pies are making a comeback -- not only because they are a practical alternative to baking (or transporting) a whole cake, but also because they achieve the perfect ratio of cake to frosting.  


Mini Cakes

1 ¾ cups unbleached all-purpose flour

⅔ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 ½ teaspoons baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup brown sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup milk

Mocha Frosting

½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

2 cups icing sugar

⅓ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 heaping teaspoon instant decaf coffee, dissolved in ¼ cup hot water

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Pinch of salt 



Mini Cakes

  • Preheat the oven to 350F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  • In a small bowl, whisk dry ingredients together:  flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt until well combined. 
  • In a separate bowl, cream the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy.  Add the egg and vanilla.  Scrape down the bowl and continue beating until well combined.
  • Add ⅓ of the flour mixture and beat on low speed until well combined.  Add half the milk and continue to beat.  Add half of the remaining flour mixture and continue to beat.  Finally, add the remaining milk and beat until mixed, followed by the remaining flour mixture and, beating just until incorporated.
  • Spoon the cake batter into a large freezer bag, and cut off a bottom corner (1” slice) of the bag.  Pipe the batter into 2-inch circles on the parchment-lined baking sheets, a few inches apart. 
  • Bake for approximately 10 minutes or until the tops of the mini cakes look set.  Watch them carefully!  Remove to a wire rack to cool completely.


  • Beat butter until softened.  Add icing sugar, vanilla, salt and cocoa powder, beating on low speed, and adding coffee 1 tablespoon at a time, using only the coffee you need to achieve the desired consistency.  Beat until fluffy.  


  • Turn cooled mini cakes upside-down, and spread or pipe frosting on the flat surface of one cake.  Top with a second cake to make one whoopie pie.  Repeat with all the mini cakes.  Depending on the size of the mini cakes, this recipe typically yields around a dozen whoopie pies.