Disclosure: I visited the following places as part of my attendance at Camp Gathering Maine 2015. All opinions expressed are entirely my own. Thank you for letting me share my experience(s) with you.
A few weeks ago I traveled up to Maine as part of Camp Gathering Maine, an event organized by April of Sweet and Simple Magazine that gave myself and some other bloggers the opportunity to explore a few of the local businesses and attractions that Maine has to offer. It was a glorious couple of days, filled with amazing food, postcard-like scenery and almost perfect weather.
I want to share some of the highlights with you here today. And hopefully convince you that you need to pack your bags for Maine STAT! So prepare yourself for a picture heavy post. Because Maine is freaking gorgeous.
Also, I’m bringing you guys a recipe for Classic Whoopie Pies. Because whoopie pies are the official state treat of Maine. Which should tell something about the folks up North: that they really know a thing or two about desserts. Because a chocolate cookie-cake hybrid baked good paired with a creamy marshmallow filling is a pretty gosh darn genius idea.
I’m mostly going to let the photos speak for themselves, and interject a few little tidbits here and there. So here we go.
The event kicked off in Portland, the largest city in Maine that is known for it’s hip restaurants, historic buildings and working marinas. From downtown we boarded Lucky Catch Cruises and headed out for a real lobstering experience. The Lucky Catch crew was incredibly knowledgeable (and fun!), and we got to help them bait and set traps, measure for “keepers” and band lobster claws. And the views out on the water are spectacular! Definitely a “must do” activity if you’re ever visiting the Portland area.
We only stayed on dry land for a few minutes, because once our trip on the lobster boat was finished, we boarded another boat and headed off to Great Diamond Island. We stayed the night at the Inn at Diamond Cove, which is stunning upscale hotel with bits of quintessential Maine charm everywhere you look. The rooms and hotel grounds are immaculate. And the staff has taken care of every detail you could possibly imagine. That night we enjoyed a classic New England-style lobster dinner at Diamond’s Edge Restaurant. I even wore a lobster bib.
I didn’t want to leave Great Diamond Island, but I knew good things were waiting for me in Kennebunkport. Including melt-in-your mouth blueberry pancakes with lemon curd from Salt & Honey. And delicious cold beers from Shipyard Brewing Co. at Federal Jacks. I just about tried them all.
One of my favorite aspects of the trip was getting to visit Hidden Pond. Hidden Pond is a luxury resort nestled on a beautifully wooded property that feels like it’s a million miles away from the nearby bustling downtown streets of Kennebunkport. The private cabins are studded along dirt roads, interspaced with edible landscaping that you’re encouraged to indulge in, and bike racks filled with cruisers that you’re welcome to take for a spin.
Hidden Pond has a quaint feel. But after about five minutes, you’ll realize that this resort is anything but rustic. All the cabins are unique and carefully designed, have full amenities and you can even get pastries and coffee delivered to your front door each morning. I kind of wanted to move right in.
The resort has a pool and spa on the property for guests to enjoy, as well as a farm-to-fork restaurant and bar called Earth. And I’m just going to put this out there: the meal I had at Earth at Hidden Pond might just be the best meal I’ve ever had in my life. We were able to taste almost everything on the menu and it was all spectacular. Flavor combinations were on point, ingredients were ultra fresh (some of which were grown right on the property) and the service was flawless. It was magical.
I had a blissful night’s sleep at The Grand Hotel, which is one of Kennebunkport’s newer hotels. It has classic New England architecture, elegant rooms and an onsite art gallery. And it’s within walking distance of all the downtown shops and restaurants.
The last day we did a little shopping, grabbed an ice cream at Rococo’s and visited the Bush’s (and by “visited” I mean that we admired their massive seaside compound from the street) all before heading out.
I came home with a renewed love of Maine. And a belly full of whoopie pies. I might have eaten one or two on my trip. Or maybe five. Shhh…don’t tell.
Recipe from What’s Cooking America
- For the Cake
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 cup packed brown sugar
- 1/2 cup vegetable shortening
- 1 egg
- For the Filling
- 2 cups marshmallow creme/fluff
- 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
- 1 cup vegetable shortening
- 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
- *Note: I ended up doubling this filling recipe
- Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees. Grease a couple large baking sheets with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.
- In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a separate small bowl, combine the milk and vanilla extract. Set both aside.
- In the bowl of your stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream together the sugar, shortening and egg. Slowly add in the dry ingredients and the milk mixture, alternating back and forth between the two, beating until the batter is well combined and smooth.
- Scoop the batter out into mounds on your prepared baking sheets, using a scant 1/4 cup for each mound and making sure to leave a couple inches in-between. Using the back of a spoon, spread the batter out into 4-inch circles. The batter will be thick and slightly sticky. Coating your spoon with a little non-stick cooking spray will help make this last step easier.
- Transfer the baking sheets to your pre-heated oven and bake for 15 minutes. The cakes should be slightly firm to the touch when done. Remove them from the oven and allow the cakes to cool on their baking sheets for 5 minutes. Then transfer the cakes to a wire rack to cool completely.
- While the cakes are cooling, make the filling. In the bowl of your stand mixer with the whisk attachment, beat together the marshmallow creme/fluff, powdered sugar and shortening until well combined. Beat in the vanilla extract. Note: I ended up doubling this filling recipe, making it in two separate batches, because I wanted a thicker layer of filling.
- Assemble the whoopie pies. Spread some of the filling onto the flat side of one of the cakes. Top with a second cake, pressing down gently to distribute the filling evenly. Continue until all the whoopie pies are assembled.
- Whoopie pies can be enjoyed immediately, or wrapped individually in plastic wrap and stored in your refrigerator for 2-3 days.
Sounds like you had an amazing experience in Maine! And whoopie pies are the state treat?! How awesome is that! I’ve never made my own before, but after seeing these cuties, I might just have to. Love the classic flavors, Liz!
I think you definitely have to make these, Gayle!
Ok I’m ready, when can we leave?! I have always wanted to go to Maine (most of the East coast actually) and this makes me want to go even more. Plus, if you bring whoopie pies I’m THERE.
Good thing you’re coming to visit me then! 🙂
Liz, your photos are just gorgeous! Sounds like you had an awesome trip! Who doesn’t love the classic whoopie pie?? These look and sound delicious! I’ve got whoopie pies on the brain now! Pinning!
Thanks, Mary Ann!
Gorgeous photos! You really captured a lot of the beauty of Maine! And these whoopie pies look amazing- pinning 🙂
Thank you, Medha! Glad you love them!
One of the places I have always wanted to visit. One of these days. And these look and sound so good right now? Although I am heading to the gym. Maybe later:)
Yeah, these are great post-workout fuel. Ha!
I loved seeing your photos of Maine on Facebook — it’s so beautiful and I’d love to pack my bags and go right now! And these whoopie pies look nothing short of amazing — your photos are just gorgeous!
Thanks so much, Marcie!
What a fabulous trip, Liz. Hidden Pond would have been my happy place too. It sounds divine! I have never been to Maine, but you’ve convinced me, I need to to! Thank you for sharing your experience and photographs! I know I would have loved this trip! And these whoppie pies?! Pillow soft and melt in your mouth, creamy fluff? Delicious, my dear!
Oh Hidden Pond would be right up your alley, Traci! I hope you get to go to Maine someday soon!
I have seriously always wanted to visit Maine!!! You make it look so beautiful. and these whoppie pies are perfection!
You should definitely go sometime, Jocelyn!
you seriously go on the BEST trips!!!! I’ve always wanted to visit Maine!!! beautiful, gorgeous photos and I love whoopie pies! a true classic!
I have always wanted to visit Maine! It looks SO pretty, and sounds like you had a BLAST!
NOW blast some of this goodness RIGHT INTO MY MOUTH PLEASE! Pinned!
You should definitely put Maine on your bucket list, Taylor!
Loving the photos from your trip! What camera did you use? I’m especially loving those lobster photos. I have a soft spot for lobbies 🙂
Aww…thanks, girl! All the photos from the trip are with my iPhone (gasp!). I didn’t even bring my “real” camera with me.
Gahh! Legit, Liz- I have been begging Boy to take me to Maine and go lobster-in’! Like I’ve pretty much all but threatened to kill him if we don’t go soon. After this post I’m thinking I might need to use that threat. Or book my own dang ticket for one. LOVE this post, needless to say I am UBER jealous! Totally checking out all the links you included! Oh and I will toe-tsh whoop it up for some whoopie pies! They look delicious! Pinned! Cheers to a fabulous weekend!
Leave the boy at home and come to Maine with me. Ha!
I just find some of your recipes on Pinterest. Pure awesomeness thank you.
I found u on instagram great photos. Have a great day.
We just endured the 40 day/night rain here in Georgia. I’m sure it was wet where you are. It got down to 60 here. So this all gave me great ideas to start cooking and warm up. Then it will go back to 80 degrees.
Thank u my lovely,
Glad you found me, Kim! I hope the cooking warms you up! 🙂
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kim, i am a native yes maine is beautiful i miss the rocky coast. i will try your great receipe.
Maine is certainly very beautiful! I hope you love the whoopie pies!
My husband and I visited Portland ME years ago and I recognized the scene in your photo as the place where we had a delicious lobster dinner before touring the town on foot. Amazing little shops! And here in PA we’ve been eating whoopee pies and have taken them to another level with seasonal fillings…..spearmint, cookie dough, orange crème, peanut butter….large, small, mini…..this is truly a versatile treat. Thanks for sharing your recipe.
Portland is definitely an amazing place! All your whoopie pie flavors sound awesome! I definitely want to try mixing it up with different fillings next time I make them.
Hi! I’m in France where we can’t find marshmallow creme. Can you tell me what I could use to replace it (no buttercream please) ?
Hi! Marshmallow creme/fluff is the traditional filling for a whoopie pie, but I’m sure other frostings/fillings would be delicious. Maybe you could try making a cream cheese frosting?
I am a downeast Mainer and me and my friends and family fill them with fresh whipped cream – much better than the original recipe
That’s a great idea, too!
whipped cream is a good idea (and very french too 😉 ). Thanks Zig Zag.
Thank you for your answer. We discovered the whoopie pie this summer (in Portland actually) and we loved it. I will try to find a recipe but maybe you do know how to make marshmallow creme from scratch ? Is it something like a swiss meringue?
Thanks for your suggestion about the cream cheese frosting anyway. Your pictures are gorgeous!
I wonder about piping the batter instead of trying to spread it. Do you think the consistency is conducive to that?
I haven’t tried piping it, so I can’t say for certain. The batter is a bit thick and sticky though. If you try it, please let me know if it works (or doesn’t!).
Lucky me, I get to live in Maine. Your recipe looks yummy. We also do many seasonal flavors of whoopie pies in Maine; pumpkin, blueberry, peppermint, red velvet, vanilla, cheesecake, and every flavor in between. So good!
Those all sound so awesome, Heather! Next time I definitely want to try making whoopie pies with different flavorings.
I have to say I find it very odd that whoopie pies of ALL things are the state dessert for Maine as I’ve never thought of them having a great percentage of Pennsylvania Dutch (creators of the treat), I would have thought some sort of blueberry item (which the state is known for growing) would have been their chosen pastry. But oh well…..I’ve heard of crazier things in life. However, I’ve never spent much time in Maine, sightseeing and staying there. I’ve mostly just driven through for the most part. This location you found looks incredible. The spot looks absolutely beautiful and I can see why anyone would love to visit or live there (until winter hits anyway). I would have loved to have seen inside the dining “shed” or at least the table setting in this building. It looks lovely from what can be seen on the outside. Whatever reason you went to this location, if I were in your shoes I would definitely be going back again to enjoy this absolutely beautiful spot in our country.
Definitely worth another visit – as long as it’s not in the winter! 🙂
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I am a native Mainer living in Georgia now. Your recipe is spot on!! I love making these in the south and bringing them to events, no one knows what they are and after trying them they are hooked!! Everyone loves chocolate but Pumpkin Whoopie pies with Cream Cheese filling are my favorite!! Thanks for the pictures brings back so many memories.
Oh this makes me so happy, Cheri! Thank you so much!
I grew up in maine and love Whoopi pies. Wasn’t too long ago that no one outside of new England knew what a Whoopi pie was. I live in kentucky now and I made them for my grandsons bakesale at school I made 40 and sold everyone. Teachers wanted to know how to make them…
Glad you are teaching everyone in Kentucky about whoopie pies! That’s awesome!
Mine came out flat! Fresh baking powder and sofa – didn’t over mix. Any ideas?
Hi Cece! Sorry you had a problem with your cakes coming out flat. That hasn’t happened to me before. I wonder if you could try refrigerating the batter for a few minutes before scooping and spreading it out. It might spread less if it’s chilled.
Have you ever tried to freeze them?
Hi Diana, I haven’t tried freezing these before. If you do, I’d love to know your results if you wanted to come back and tell me!
I have been making these for years. My mom made them when we were growing up. And yes you can freeze them!
Great to know! Thanks!
My husband is from Jackman, ME and we lived in Bucksport Maine for 5 years before moving back to the south. One of the things he misses are the whoopie pies. Going to make them for him 🙂
That’s so great, Magen! I hope he loves them!
Hi! I was wondering if you could replace the shortening in the filling with butter? Do you think that would work?
Hi Meg, I haven’t tried using anything other than shortening. I’m sorry!
You should be able to replace it with whipped unsalted butter
I’m retired now and have plenty of time to travel. Maine doesn’t sound bad for a trip. My wife was asking for whoopie pies the other day and then I see this. I’m going to make this tomorrow thanks 👨🍳👨🍳😋
I definitely recommend Maine for a visit! And good luck with the Whoopie Pies!
Wow! These are great and so easy to make. I live in Australia and can’t get marshmallow fluff, so I made a buttercream frosting instead. Many thanks for the recipe
So glad you tried them, Rosemary! And I love making them with other frostings/fillings, too!