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Gobs: A Western PA Version of the Amish Whoopie Pie

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A descendent of great cooks, I am heir to some of the best recipes ever created.

A plate of delicious gobs!

A plate of delicious gobs!

What Is a Gob? And How Is It Related to Whoopie Pies?

I grew up along the eastern edge of the Allegany Mountain range in south central/western Pennsylvania, a region known for its coal industries, steel mills, and railroad yards. Like in many regions of our country, the foods we cook are influenced by our ancestors who brought with them recipes from their homelands.

Some recipes, like this one for gobs, are so specific that if you travel a hundred miles in any direction, the name transitions and a gob becomes a whoopie pie. The two recipes are almost identical but my experience is that a gob is always chocolate, while versions of the whoopie pie come in all flavors including vanilla, peanut butter, and even strawberry.

Ingredients

Cream:

  • 1/2 cup shortening, room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs

Add:

  • 1 cup sour milk
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Sift together:

  • 4 cups flour
  • 1 cup cocoa
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda

For the filling:

  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons water

Cook Time

Prep timeCook timeReady inYields

1 hour 20 min

10 min

1 hour 30 min

18 gobs

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, cream together shortening, eggs and sugar until mixture is light and fluffy
  2. Add the sour milk, boiling water, and vanilla and stir.
  3. In a second bowl, sift together flour, cocoa, baking powder, and baking soda. Then add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Mix well.
  4. Drop mounds of batter onto a greased cookie sheet (a scant 1/4 of batter will make cookie rounds about 3 inches in diameter. Bake at 350 degrees in a preheated oven for 10 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
  5. While the cookie tops are cooling, prepare the filling. When the tops are cool, frost each half with frosting and put them together like a sandwich. Wrap in individual sandwich bags to store.

Where Did Gobs Come From?

There are many theories on the origin of the gob. Some believe it came from Massachusetts; others believe it to be a recipe carried from Germany and adapted by the Pennsylvania Dutch. But whatever the theory, the little chocolate cake sandwiches have a strong presence in this region of Pennsylvania.

The name is curious. But if you think about how a gob is made, it makes sense because the cake part is made by placing a gob of batter on the cookie sheet.

Go ahead! Try to eat just one!

Go ahead! Try to eat just one!

Is a Gob the Same as a Whoopie Pie?

The answer is both yes and no. Although they are both handheld cake sandwiches, the gob is specific to a region in southern Pennsylvania, around Altoona, Johnstown, and Bedford.

A gob, as far as I know, is always chocolate. The whoopie pie, on the other hand, can come in a multitude of flavors including vanilla, red velvet, and peanut butter.

The Smell of Fresh Baked Chocolate!

My mother made gobs frequently. The smell of baking chocolate greeted me after school, long before I swung open the screen door that led into the kitchen. Mom could be in any stage of production depending on how her day was going. If I was lucky though, I would find the cookie parts cooling on the counter waiting to be made into chocolate sandwiches. All it took for me was a swipe of frosting across two sandwich halves, and a stolen gob in hand, I would take the steps two at a time to my bedroom without Mom seeing me. I knew she wouldn't be happy that I didn't wait until after dinner.

Today, I make the handheld sandwiches the same way Mom did with one exception. Since I think the filling spreads a little thin, I sometimes doubIe the batch and swath on the creamy white sweet spread thicker than Mom did. But that is just my preference.

© 2021 Patty Poet

Comments

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on February 28, 2021:

Would you believe that I have never tasted a whoopie pie or a gob? It is true. I do like chocolate, but I have never enjoyed eating frosting. Your recipe sounds good. I would simply not put them together with the filling.

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