Brown sugar the secret to great whoopie pies

  • Replacing granulated sugar with brown sugar creates whoopie pies with deeper flavor and added moisture. America’s Test Kitchen

Published: 6/5/2018 11:49:22 AM

Made up of two cookie-like chocolate cakes stuffed to the gills with fluffy marshmallow filling, the whoopie pie is a sweet indulgence.

For the cake component, we drew inspiration from devil’s food cake, creaming butter with sugar, adding eggs and buttermilk for tenderness, and using all-purpose flour and baking soda for the right amount of structure.

For the chocolate flavor, we preferred the darker color and flavor that Dutch-processed cocoa provided. One-half cup of cocoa delivered a balanced flavor, especially when boosted with a splash of vanilla extract.

We tried replacing some of the granulated sugar with brown sugar, and found that it deepened flavor and added moisture. In fact, we liked the results so much we wound up using all brown sugar.

Using a ⅓-cup dry measuring cup, we portioned the batter onto two baking sheets to give the cakes plenty of room to spread. For the filling, we eschewed the traditional sugar and lard in favor of marshmallow creme, which we enriched with butter for a mixture that was fluffy yet firm. Don’t be tempted to bake all the cakes on one baking sheet; the batter needs room to spread while it bakes.

Whoopie pies



2 cups (10 oz.) all-purpose flour

½ cup (1½ oz.) Dutch-processed cocoa powder

1 tsp. baking soda

½ tsp. salt

8 T unsalted butter, softened

1 cup packed (7 oz.) light brown sugar

1 large egg, room temperature

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 cup buttermilk


12 T unsalted butter, softened

1¼ cups (5 oz.) confectioners’ sugar

1½ tsp. vanilla extract

1/8 tsp. salt

2½ cups marshmallow creme

For the cakes

Adjust oven racks to upper-middle and lower-middle positions and heat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Whisk flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt together in bowl.

Using stand mixer fitted with paddle, beat butter and sugar on medium speed until pale and fluffy (about three minutes). Add egg and beat until incorporated, scraping down bowl as needed. Add vanilla and mix until incorporated.

Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture in three additions, alternating with buttermilk in two additions. Give batter final stir by hand to ensure that no flour pockets remain. Using ⅓-cup dry measuring cup, scoop six mounds of batter onto each prepared sheet, spaced about three inches apart. Bake until centers spring back when lightly pressed (15 to 18 minutes), switching and rotating sheets halfway through baking. Let cakes cool completely on sheets.

For the filling

Using stand mixer fitted with paddle, beat butter and sugar on medium speed until fluffy (about three minutes). Beat in vanilla and salt. Add marshmallow creme and mix until combined (about two minutes).

Refrigerate until slightly firm (about 30 minutes). (Filling can be refrigerated for up to two days.) Place ⅓ cup filling on bottom of half of cakes, then top with remaining cakes, pressing to spread filling to edge. Makes six Whoopie pies.

Whoopie pies can be refrigerated for up to three days.

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