Monday, February 7, 2011
Hey everyone, I'm back with a dose of something sweet. The Whoopie Pie. Whoopie pies appear to be a bit of regional specialty (at least I never saw them in California) but I see them branching out from the world of the Amish farm stand these days. The outer layer of the whoopie pie, for those unfamiliar to this treat, is like a cake-cookie hybrid: soft and pillowy, but with a bit more integrity so that you can pick it up and eat it with your hands. Pumpkin and its ubiquitous spice mates cinnamon, ginger and clove add a tiny bit of nutrition and a whole lot of warm comfort. Cream cheese frosting is spiced up with cinnamon and a teensy bit of spiced rum for complexity. The best part? Whoopie pies are only minor-ly more complicated then cookies but don't require fussy decorating skills to make 'em pretty.
Pumpin Whoopie PIes (adapted from Martha Stewart and Baked: new frontiers in baking)
Makes 12 whoopie pies
FOR THE PUMPKIN WHOOPIE COOKIES
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
2 cups firmly packed dark-brown sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
3 cups pumpkin puree, chilled
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
FOR THE CREAM-CHEESE FILLING
3 cups confectioners' sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Cinnamon and spiced dark rum ( I like Sailor Jerry's) to taste. This will require more cinnamon then you expect.
Make the cookies: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat; set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves; set aside. In another large bowl, whisk together brown sugar and oil until well combined. Add pumpkin puree and whisk until combined. Add eggs and vanilla and whisk until well combined. Sprinkle flour mixture over pumpkin mixture and whisk until fully incorporated.
Using a small ice cream scoop with a release mechanism, drop heaping tablespoons of dough onto prepared baking sheets, about 1 inch apart. Transfer to oven and bake until cookies are just starting to crack on top and a toothpick inserted into the center of each cookie comes out clean, about 15 minutes. Let cool completely on pan.
Make the filling: Sift confectioner' sugar into a medium bowl; set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter until smooth. Add cream cheese and beat until well combined. Add confectioners' sugar and vanilla, cinnamon and rum, beat just until smooth. (Filling can be made up to a day in advance. Cover and refrigerate; let stand at room temperature to soften before using.)
Assemble the whoopie pies: Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. Transfer filling to a disposable pastry bag and snip the end. When cookies have cooled completely, pipe a large dollop of filling on the flat side of half of the cookies. Sandwich with remaining cookies, pressing down slightly so that the filling spreads to the edge of the cookies. Transfer to prepared baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate cookies at least 30 minutes before serving and up to 3 days.