Is it OK to post my baking flops on this blog? It is, right? Keeps things real… shows you my experiments… As long as I’m clear I don’t really recommend baking these quite yet (unless you want to play with the recipe–then by all means, go at it and share your results!).
I mean… These whoopie pies. The idea was there. It’s worth fiddling around with again sometime. And the end result is still completely edible. They just aren’t quite where I wanted them to be, in the end. I wanted them minty and bright and a little herb-y. And they aren’t like that. They’re just very, very sweet. With a kind of eyebrow-raising earthiness in the background.
Part of the problem might have been that I didn’t really have a lot of mint in my building’s herb garden. I stripped those poor mint plants free of their most of their leaves, feeling a little guilty, but there still wasn’t enough. And I just couldn’t bring myself to use peppermint extract. (Nor could I bring my lazy self to go buy some mint at the store on a Saturday morning.)
So the flavor wasn’t nearly as minty as I’d wanted–even though I under-did it on the basil, the basil overpowered the mint and left it just very herb-y and earthy. Not necessarily a bad thing (see: Lemon Basil Shortbread Cookies), but without something tart or strong to counteract the basil, it’s not as exciting a flavor.
The next flop is that these guys didn’t poof up! I detailed some ideas for fixing this in the notes of the recipe below, but they were not nearly as cakey and moist and wonderful as the Red Velvet Whoopie Pies I based my experimental recipe on.
The taste of the cookies isn’t bad, per se–very sweet and laden with brown sugar. But they just don’t live up to the mint basil whoopie pies in my imagination.
It also probably didn’t help that I made a super-sweet American buttercream (haphazardly colored bright green, because at this point, why not) to go along with it. Maybe if it was a lemon buttercream or a more tart cream cheese frosting, they would’ve been better together.
Still. They aren’t atrocious. In fact, they’re not even that bad at all. But just wait until I get them past the point of confusingly sweet and earthy, and into superstar fresh mint wow!, and then, then they’ll be worth baking.
Mint Basil Whoopie Pies with Vanilla (American) Buttercream
Whoopie pie recipe adapted from Baked Explorations
Flavors and herb infusion technique inspired by Chasing Delicious
Frosting recipe adapted from Magnolia Bakery via my mother
Note If you’re thinking of continuing my experiment, here are my thoughts. The below is the exact recipe I originally concocted and followed. Next time, I’d play with the kinds of sugar used (try 1/2 cup white, 1/2 cup light brown; or even 3/4 cup white, 1/4 cup light brown). They were also not nearly as poofy as I’d like and the texture was not cakey, more tough and doughy. I might up the baking powder. I also wonder if infusing the herbs in buttermilk (as the original whoopie pie recipe I adapted called for) might help the texture. You may also want to make a tarter filling, like cream cheese frosting, or even something citrusy, like a lemon buttercream, to counteract the sweetness of the pies. Good luck!
3/4 cup milk
1 bunch mint (reserve some for batter)
1 smaller bunch basil
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup canola oil
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 tablespoon vegetable shortening, at room temperature
3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup white sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 teaspoons fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
Vanilla (American) Buttercream
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar, plus more for as desired
2 tablespoons heavy cream (or milk)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Drop green food coloring, if desired
For whoopie pies
Rinse and dry the mint and basil bunches well; do not chop these bunches. Combine milk and the herbs in a saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Remove from heat and allow to return to room temperature. Once cool, strain herbs from milk, leaving your milk infusion.
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In another bowl, whisk together the milk infusion and canola oil.
In a stand mixer, cream butter and shortening until smooth. Scrape the sides of the bowl with a spatula and add the sugars. Beat the sugars and butter/shortening mixture together until fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add egg, vanilla extract, and peppermint extract; beat until combined; scrape sides of bowl.
Turn mixer to low and add the flour mixture, alternating with milk infusion, in three additions so that you end with the flour mixture. (So that’s flour – milk – flour – milk – flour.) Beat until just combined, scrape the sides. Add the finely chopped basil and mint, beat a smidge more until the herbs are incorporated into the batter, and stop yourself. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for 15 minutes.
While the batter is chilling, preheat your oven to 350 degrees F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. When ready, use a small ice cream scoop or cookie scoop (about a tablespoonful) to scoop batter onto prepared sheets, about 1 inch apart. Bake for about 13-17 minutes (check at 10, mine took 15-17), until top starts to crack slightly and a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Allow to cool.
For frosting filling
Beat butter until smooth. Add powdered sugar, vanilla, and salt; beat mixture until thick and smooth, being careful not to overbeat. Add a drop of green food coloring, if desired. You could also flavor this with chopped mint or peppermint extract (only a few drops, I’d say), if you’d like things more minty.
You could probably guess this–scoop about a tablespoon of frosting onto one of your cookies, then put another cookie on top. Done!
Cover and refrigerate when assembled; keeps for about a week.