Truth is I've always been too curious for my own good. And while I've been tempted lately to see what would happen if I strayed from the recipe for my beloved gobs - one that I was only recently reunited with - I'll admit that I honestly couldn't justify doing so. At least not without good cause. But a recent conversation led me to the conclusion that I could experiment without abandoning my first love, with the understanding, of course, that it was all in the name of culinary exploration.
So with that in mind I gave the gobs a makeover, turning them from brunettes into blondes. I wanted to try to tone down their sweetness by adding a bit of herbal essence and a little citrus-y tang. I infused a homemade syrup with fresh lemon juice, lemon rind and whole sprigs of fresh thyme and then added a small, strained bit of that into the batter, along with lemon zest. I also poured a bit of the lemon-thyme syrup into the frosting, adding more lemon zest and fresh thyme leaves. I also switched out the original recipe's vegetable shortening for butter in the cake batter, though I did leave it in the frosting.
Give it a try and get back to me. And before anyone asks, the answer is no. These still aren't whoopie pies.
Blonde On Blonde Gobs
For the lemon-thyme syrup...
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
5 - 7 sprigs of fresh thyme (if the stalks are really leafy, use less)
4 TBS fresh squeezed lemon juice
rind of half a lemon
For the Gobs...
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 eggs, room temperature
4 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
1 TBS lemon zest
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup water (use sparingly)
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp lemon-thyme syrup (see above)
For the frosting....
1 cup milk
4 TBS flour
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
1/2 cup butter
1 cup confectioner's sugar (plus more if needed to thicken frosting)
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp lemon-thyme syrup
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
1 tsp lemon zest
1. Make the syrup ahead of time by placing water, sugar, lemon juice, thyme sprigs and lemon rind in a small pan and bringing to a boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat. Allow to cool and steep at least 20 minutes. Strain when cool. Set aside.
2. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. Set aside. Sift the flour, baking powder, and baking soda together in a large bowl.
3. Cream the sugar, butter and eggs together in a mixing bowl. Scrape sides occasionally to make sure all of the sugar gets thoroughly mixed. Begin adding flour mixture and alternate with additions of the milk, water (see NOTES,) vanilla and lemon-thyme syrup. Start and end the combining process with the dry ingredients.
4. Beat mixture well, scraping sides of mixing bowl. Using a spoon begin dropping small mounds of batter onto lined cookie sheets. The batter should be thick enough that it doesn't run. If it needs smoothed out you can do so by dipping your finger in water and lightly rounding the tops. Make sure your finger is not dripping wet! Space mounds apart so that six large, or eight small, gob halves are on each tray. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes, depending on your oven, until the gobs' domes have raised nicely and a tester inserted in the center of one of the gobs comes out clean. Allow to cool on a rack. Continue in batches until all of the batter is used.
5. Make the icing by heating a cup of milk and four tablespoons of flour on stove top. Stir well and heat until mixture begins to thicken. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Cream the vegetable shortening and butter in a mixer, then add the sugar. Mix well. Add the vanilla, lemon-thyme syrup and milk-flour mixture and beat until almost fluffy. Add the lemon zest and thyme leaves and mix thoroughly.
6. When gob halves are cooled, invert one and spread about a teaspoon and a half of frosting on top of it. Top with another gob half. Allow to set. The frosting should be thick enough to hold the two haves together without oozing out of the sides. Wrap each gob in wax paper or parchment paper, then again in plastic wrap or place in an airtight container. Refrigerate. Serve chilled.
NOTES: The first time I made the gobs I used nearly all of the one cup of water in the batter part of the recipe. Since I was adding more liquid this time as a flavoring - the lemon-thyme syrup - I cut back on the water and only used about half. Also, the first time I used all of the confectioner's sugar that was called for in the frosting, which was nearly 2 cups. This time I only used 1 cup plus maybe another tablespoon of sugar and there was enough frosting left over for another gob or two. I prefer gobs cold and so I keep them refrigerated.