Seasonal Flavors: Pennsylvania Picnic Treats


The gob is a western Pennsylvania treat that is served at summer picnics and that moms  make for school fundraisers. (Not my mom, other moms. My mom rarely cooked or baked, but she had so many other fine qualities.)

It’s a very moist individual chocolate cake, with the fluffiest of white icings between two layers and each is a single serving. In the eastern part of the state and elsewhere, people call them ‘whoopie pies,’ but I only know them as gobs.

I once found them in a rural country store in western Pennsylvania while en route to a family reunion. I bought all 60 of them. Big hit at the party, and they thought I baked them.

Suffice to say that I got this 1950s recipe from an aunt who got it from her neighbor, Mrs. Mauranno. Auntie wrote the recipe on the back of a piece of paper upon which she had already written:

June 27, 1967  – Susan Kohlar has my permission to swim today.

Hmmm, since I have the recipe with the note on the back, I wonder if cousin Susan ever got a replacement note or maybe didn’t get to swim that day? Sorry!

Chocolate Gobs

Makes 20-25 servings

For the cake:

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup shortening
  • 1 cup sour milk (1 T vinegar added to 1 cup of evaporated milk)
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 4 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ cup cocoa

Cream the sugar eggs and shortening, add the sour milk, boiling water and vanilla. Sift the dry ingredients and then blend with the wet ingredients.

Drop by tablespoon onto an ungreased cookie sheet and bake at 4500F for five minutes.  Cool on a rack.

For the icing:

  • 5 T flour
  • 1 cup of evaporated milk
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • ½ cup shortening
  • ½ cup butter
  • ½ tsp vanilla

Cook the flour and milk over medium heat until the thickness of paste. Cream the sugar, shortening, butter and vanilla then beat into the flour/milk mixture.

To assemble, spread about ½ inch of icing between two cakes. Wrap each in plastic wrap till ready to serve.

Have a picnic!


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