Before I delve any further into the specifics of this recipe, let me begin with a small preamble on food. This recipe originally called for Speck Alto Adige PGI. For those of you who are not familiar with it, PGI stands for protected geographical indication and it denotes a food product by means of its origin. In particular, it determines that only a certain food product coming from a specific place can be considered/sold/commercialised under that name. In this case, the Trentino-Alto Adige region, in the North of Italy. Indeed, this is where this type of dry-cured and lightly smoked ham comes from. It is made from pork hind quarters, which are first smoked, then cured over a 22-week period and covered in a salt crust. The rule to follow, in this case, is ‘a little salt, a little smoke and a lot of fresh air.’ Speck is very tasty and unique to Italy. I have never seen it outside its borders, alone maybe for Germany and Austria.
Seeing as this cured meat is virtually impossible to track down here in the UK (and God forbid I went on a journey to find some only to make this recipe), I substituted it with smoked rindless bacon. It’s not the same and you need to cook the bacon first, but you need to work with what you have. So, to go back to this recipe, these are savoury whoopie pies (or whoopies). The biscuits are soft and crumbly and the filling is very moreish. You’d be amazed at how just a handful of ingredients can taste so good when thrown together. I used Emmentaler here, but any smoked or strong cheese would also be fine. These are also best enjoyed as a starter or with a tomato salad. Perfect for a picnic or a party, you can get approximately 8-10 full biscuits from this recipe, depending on how big you pipe them.
- 200g smoked rindless bacon
- 120g whole milk
- 100g plain flour
- 85g wholemeal plain flour
- 80g unsalted butter
- 125g cream cheese, at room temperature
- 30g Emmentaler, grated
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- pinch of salt
- ground black pepper
- extra virgin olive oil
- Pre-heat the oven to 180C fan. Line two baking trays with baking parchment.
- In a small bowl, mix the two flours with the salt, bicarbonate of soda and grated cheese.
- In the bowl of a freestanding mixer (or in a normal bowl), cream the butter with the leaf attachment, then add the egg. Mix to combine, then add the flour mixture, followed by the milk. The mixture will look lumpy and liquid, but as long as it holds its shape a little it’s fine.
- Transfer the mixture to a piping bag, snip the end off and pipe evenly sized blobs onto the lined baking trays. The mounds should be approximately 3cm in diameter and make sure they are evenly spaced as the biscuits will slightly flatten. Bake for 15 minutes, until golden on top.
- Cook the bacon in a dry frying pan until slightly crispy, then remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly. Transfer to a food processor and finely mince, then cool completely.
- In a bowl, lightly whip the cream cheese with approximately 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil until smooth, then add the minced bacon and some black pepper. Combine with a spatula.
- To assemble the whoopie pies, hold one biscuit half, then spread some bacon cream on top of it and gently squeeze the other half together. Allow to come to room temperature before eating. Enjoy!