The Lost Boys: Grandpa’s Root Beer Whoopie Pies and Oreo Truffles

                             Sleep all day. Party all night. It’s fun to be a vampire. And eat treats…
                                                                                                               lost boys movie poster
     License to Drive, Dream a Little Dream, Lucas, Murphy’s Romance, Watchers, Blown Away, Shark City, Demolition High, and Silver Bullet-if you were a boy-crazed girl of the 80’s and 90’s, you may guess what all these films have in common; besides relatively interesting soundtracks.
            Corey Haim. You know, The Haimster; the Canadian actor that catapulted to teen stardom alongside his more subdued sidekick, Corey C-Dog Feldman. (It’s actually kind of sick that I can remember their nicknames).
      Truthfully, I really adored Corey Feldman just as much as his partner in Hollywood crime. After all, he did take down Jason Voorhees in Friday the 13th Part 4, battled pesky Gremlins, and befriended Sloth in The Goonies. But Corey Haim *insert dreamy sigh* was simply more adorable, more stylish, had the great hair, and was just plain fun to watch in movies. No matter how bad *ahem Just One of the Girls*.  
                                                                                                       frog bros
            Even if you weren’t a fan of the dynamic teen duo, if you were a horror and/or vampire fan in the 80’s, you were inevitably sucked into The Lost Boys. Bad boy teen vamps emulating Peter Pan’s tribe of lost boys carrying the mantra “Sleep all day. Party all night. Never grow old. Never die. It’s fun to be a vampire.” Corey Haim’s role as total 80’s fashion victim Sam, was one of his greatest shining moments, and I’m not just saying that because it’s a horror movie. (Although that does help).
            Before and after, Haim continued to flirt with the horror genre. He starred in an awesome werewolf movie, Silver Bullet, based off a short story by Stephen King and a teen slasher film, Fever Lake.
          But my fan-atic heart always leads me straight back to The Lost Boys.
    plotting Some of its quirks-The screwball vampire hunter brothers, Edgar and Allan Frog (named in honor of the novelist Edgar Allan Poe); the poster of a seductively posed Rob Lowe hanging on Sam’s wall that makes me go “hmmm” every time I watch it; and Grandpa-whose only complaint about Santa Carla is all the damn vampires.
            Sadly, Corey Haim passed away on this day three years ago. Although I wasn’t a fan of his comeback reality show, I still considered the movies of his younger and wilder past iconic to my youth. And he was, after all, a brother in horror. In remembrance to him and (in my humble opinion) one of his best films, I present a couple goodies to die for, Grandpa’s Root Beer Whoopie Pies and Oreo truffles. Hunh? What’s the connection?
The Recipes: One of Grandpa’s rules specifically explained to Michael and Sam included hands off his root beer and Double Stuffed Oreo cookies. The Lost Boys lived by the creed “rules were made to be broken”, and I did just that with these indulgent and easy-to-make treats. My version of the creamy, guilty cookie balls are dipped in svelte almond bark and sprinkled with the remains of crumbly Oreos. The whoopie pies are like vanilla pillows stuffed with feather light root beer-y cream, and they really are the next best thing to a frothy root beer float! Got milk everyone??
Oreo Truffles
(Makes at least 2 dozen, depending on how big you make em)
1 standard package of regular Oreo cookies
1 8ounce cream cheese-room temperature (no low fat. That really defeats the purpose of these treats).
1 pd block of almond bark
Wax paper and a large freezer sturdy Ziploc bag
2 cookie sheets and a rolling pin
How to make em:
1. Place all of the cookies in the large Ziploc bag. Using a rolling pin, brutally crush and roll over the cookies until nothing but crumbs remain.
2. Add all but about 3 Tbsp of the cookies to a large mixing bowl along with the softened cream cheese. (The remains will be used in the topping).
3. By hand, mix the cookies into the cream cheese until a mushy dough forms.
4. Roll the cookie dough into balls (anywhere from 1-3” depending on the size you desire. Of course, you will have more truffles the smaller they are made).
5. Place the cookie balls onto wax paper covered cookie sheets. Flash freeze the truffles for about 5-6 minutes until just firm.
6. Meanwhile, melt the almond bark according to package directions until creamy.
7. Immerse each truffle into the hot melted coating using a spoon or cool dipping fork. (I own one and they are neat!)
8. Sprinkle all the coated truffles with the remaining cookie crumbs and refrigerate for later enjoyment.
Root Beer Float Whoopie Pies
Vanilla Whoopie Cakes
(Makes a dozen 4” pies or 2 dozen 2” pies)
1 stick (1/2 c) butter (room temp, please)
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla (the purest you can get. No imitation allowed).
1 c buttermilk
2 1/3 c flour
1 c sugar
1 ¼ tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
Cookie sheets and parchment paper or a whoopie pie pan; cookie scoop
How to make em:
Obligatory Reminder: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper. If you are using a whoopie pie pan, grease em down.
1. Using a hand mixer or stand mixer w/paddle attachment, cream together the butter, sugar, and vanilla into light and fluffy submission. Add the egg.
2. In a separate bowl, add together the flour, baking soda, and salt.
3. Add the flour mix to the creamed mix until just combined. Add the buttermilk.
Tip: Do not overbeat the batter unless you want stony, tough pillow pies.
4. Using a cookie scoop, add the batter by the scoopful, leaving 2” of space between each cake. They will spread a bit.
5. Bake at 375 degrees for 8-11 minutes. They will be firm to the touch. Transfer the cakes to a wire rack immediately.
6. When the cakes are completely cooled, match up whoopie halves and fill with root beer filling. Yum!
Root Beer Marshmallow Filling:
½ c vegetable shortening
2/3 c Marshmallow Fluff
1-2 c powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp root beer extract
4 Tbsp root beer (I make mine with Mugs)
Pastry bag and large star tip for piping in the filling OR just a spoon
How to Make Em:
1. With a hand mixer or stand mixer with paddle attachment, cream together the shortening and the Marshmallow Fluff into a creamy submission.
2. On low speed, gradually add the powdered sugar until just combined.
3. Add all the liquids. Beat another 3 minutes on medium speed.
4. Test for consistency. You may need to add a few tablespoons of powdered sugar if your filling is to unstable or runny.
Tip: I make the filling the night before assembling the pies. This settling period gives the root beer time to mingle and I get a more intense root beer flavor. Your choice. Just saying.
5. Add the filling to a pastry bag decked out with a large star tip. Pipe the filling on the inside of half of each pie for a polished presentation.
6. Top with the other vanilla pie half. Squish and enjoy!
Until next time…Stay Spooky, my fiends!

The Creepy Masquerade Mingle Remembered: Spooky Whoopie Pies

To me, a theme party is just another form of artistic expression; an open window offering a glimpse into our creative and imaginative selves. It’s also an unlocked door, inviting others to step through and experience the ingenuity and generosity of all we bake, make, sew, paper craft, food craft, paint, create, and construct.
            I’ll admit I labor over every shallow detail. I want everything I set onto the table or onto a plate to coordinate somehow, some way with my chosen theme. I want cool props and accents that spark conversation and food that ends them. I try to choose innovative themes or at least add my own unique touches and personality to an already tried-out motif.
            This year, the corpse groom and I gained Halloween party inspiration from a rack of inexpensive and usually overlooked Victorian era masquerade masks. You know, the kind you might find the ghostly guests at The Overlook Hotel donning during a chilling New Year’s Eve Gala in The Gold Ballroom. I chose something a bit glitzy in gold and black while my groom went with an eerie Scaramouche mask and ebony cloak that was more Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut than The Shining.
            Party Stuff: I’m not too flashy. I like basic colors and shades that are easy to coordinate with things I have around my house. (Because I’m kind of cheap, too, and whatever I can’t make myself or buy for small coin, I alter from my stash). I chose a black, white, and silver color scheme. I bought a pack of black and white cardstock and a silver pen. I was able to create many invitations and food markers for a nominal price. Black and white paper ware was found in abundance at our local dollar haunt, and I coordinated with my own clear and white glass serving dishes.
            My prize decorating ideas: After a quick jaunt around my attic, I also seized the opportunity to incorporate the cool Silver set my corpse groom inherited from a deceased aunt years ago. I’ve been too lazy to actually polish it, but lucky me, it worked to my advantage as the grimy, unpolished look added that slightly gothic touch I was going for. Also, my silver painted pumpkins the corpse groom carved with his power tools received a lot of compliments. But my favorite idea was a silver tray serving poisoned candy apples (completely edible) and slimy rubberish worms. Tip for ya-food can and should always double as decoration.
            My most beloved part of setting up a party is always the food. Of course. This year’s menu was designed for an Open House. Guests were invited to a Creepy Masquerade Mingle snacks and sweets feast, and a feast it was! I wanted my six feature foods to follow the color scheme as much as possible so I chose three signature desserts-Chocolate Macabre cupcakes bejeweled in silver and translucent sugar and skeletal hands, an indulgent chocolate fondue bar featuring two dark dips, a ghostly white chocolate choice, and too many yummy things to dip. I also stacked a tray of spider-infested classic whoopie pies I whimsically labeled Spooky Pies. For savory snacks, I made a seven layer bean dip frosted with sour cream and sprinkled with chopped black olives; a batch of biscuit encrusted cocktail sausages, and roast beef & provolone tortilla wraps. I also added a sweet variety of black, silver, and white candies to the table and sidebar- like metallic-wrapped Hershey’s nuggets and Kisses, black licorice whips in opaque glasses, Junior Mints and white dotted chocolate nonpareils, and black dipped marshmallows rolled in silver sugar. By the time everyone had stopped in with their snacks/sweets offering, every nook and cranny of the dining room was filled with festive food.
            The Recipe: I’d never made a whoopie pie until recently. I know they are gaining tremendous trendy speed in the world of Oven and will probably outbake the cupcake in another year or two, but I had not tried them out until I came upon a totally adorable cookbook only for whoopie pies at Omaha’s Chocolate Festival this fall. It wanted to be mine so I brought It home to live with us. It is quickly becoming my favorite addition to my ridiculous cookbook collection. Also, the whoopie pies gave my stand mixer something to do other than just stand around. Haha! (I prefer to use my hand mixer most times).  All I can say is “move over, Cakester, you imposter! The Real Deal has FINALLY arrived to the Kitchen Macabre”. Cookie-like buns with a not-too-sweet pillowy filling that you can make any size you are craving, and so good it’s just downright spooky…
Spooky Classic Whoopie Pies
(Can make up to 48 2” spooksters)
1 pastry bag fitted with any round tip you choose/have (for the buns) OR a spoon for you pastry bag-less losers
1 pastry bag fitted with a decorative tip (for the filling) OR use the spoon again.
Stand mixer works best, but a hand mixer will do, too
1 2/3 c flour
2/3 c unsweetened cocoa powder
1 ½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
4 Tbsp butter (softened for the kill; unsalted for your baking pleasure)
4 Tbsp vegetable shortening (or what I refer to as good ole lard)
1 c brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 c milk
Prep: Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. By the way, these babies bake best on the middle oven rack. Line a couple baking sheets with parchment paper for easy lifting. I prep four large sheets because I like to make my spooksters about 4” in size and rotate sheets one at a time through the oven.
In a medium bowl, get your flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt intimately acquainted. In the bowl of your stand mixer with the paddle attachment ready (or large mixing bowl with your hand mixer), paddle that butter, shortening, and brown sugar into fluffy and smooth submission (3 mins or so). Add the egg and the vanilla-beat some more (another two mins) until it plays nice with its ingredient friends.  At this point, begin adding the flour mix and the milk in alteration on low speed until just incorporated. Remember to scrape down the sides of the bowl because you don’t want to leave anyone out of the beating. Continue beating until the ingredients are completely combined.
Fill your pastry bag with batter or use a spoon to drop about a tablespoon size of batter onto the prepped baking sheets about 2” apart. (Mind this spacing detail unless you want Siamese whoopie pies). If you want them bigger, expect a lesser amount of pies and make the drops a bit bigger. Bake for about 9 mins or until the buns spring back after a soft poke. Allow to cool on the sheet for about 5 mins and then transfer them carefully to a wire rack for cooling. Make sure they are cooled completely before attempting to fill them or you will have filling that looks more like Elmer’s glue than Marshmallow Yumminess.
Marshmallow Yumminess Filling
(Makes an obnoxious amount of yumminess)
Stand mixer or your hand mixer will do the job fine, too
1 ¾ c marshmallow cream (I go for Marshmallow Fluff)
1 ¼ c vegetable shortening (that good ole lard again)
1 c powdered sugar (affectionately called confectioners’ sugar)
1 Tbsp vanilla
In the bowl of your stand mixer (paddle attachment, please) or a large mixing bowl for your hand mixer, paddle that marshmallow cream and shortening on low until you get its attention then increase your speed to the medium setting to beat it into a fluffy smooth submission (usually 3 mins is all it takes). Go back to a low setting to add the powdered sugar and vanilla, then give it another good beating until all is fluffy and well (another three minutes or so).
Fill your decorative tipped pastry bag with the yumminess, pipe it onto one bun and place another bun on top to make a kooky little spooky cookie-cake sandwich. Glop it on with a spoon if you have to, but I warn you-it won’t look as pretty. Oh well. It all ends up in the same place anyway, right? Enjoy!!!