Sunday, November 7, 2010

Whoopee! Pumpkin and Chocolate Whoopie Pies with Cream Cheese Icing

I haven’t been able to get whoopie pies off the brain since I had my first one recently. In fact, I feel like I’ve been deprived to have never tried such a delicacy until now. Just think of all the whoopie pies that I missed out on over the years. I’d better get crackin’!

Apparently whoopie pies are a Yankee thing and of Amish origin, to boot, so I guess it’s no surprise that I had never heard of them until adulthood. We Southerners don’t much truck with Yankee desserts as it’s a well known truth (at least to us) that we have a far superior tradition of foods involving fat and/or sugar (preferably both). While I do typically subscribe to this notion, I have to admit we’ve been bested by the whoopie pie.

Whoopie pies have the excellent mouth feel of a slice of cake with a good crumb but without all the icing-to-cake ratio issues that go along with a layer or sheet cake. The whoopie pie icing-to-cake ratio is just the right amount- not too much so that your taste buds are overloaded on sugar and not so little that you feel gypped and still need an icing fix.
Yes, they are just about perfect. Can you imagine? The people that invented NASCAR have been beat out by a small religious sect that still relies on a horse and buggy as a means of conveyance.

When I first encountered the whoopie pie, I wondered at the odd name. In fact, the name alone was a turn off for me because it conjured up visions of moon pies. If ever any Northerner needs ammunition to use in disputing the statement above re: our superiority in food matters, the moon pie is the end all, be all, epitome of a Southern dessert gone wrong. (And don’t even try to argue that a banana, or vanilla, or chocolate moon pie tastes o.k. because it doesn’t. They are disgusting, no matter the flavor, and we all know it but we’re too damn dead set in tradition to give them up so we just have to suffer through them come Mardi Gras time.)

So it turns out, there’s a reason for the funny name. According to internet-reported folklore, Amish children would yell “whoopee” upon seeing the treat in their lunch pails. Now it makes absolute sense to me- I may even take up the rally cry. And I assure you, you’ll be hard pressed to not do the same when you bite into a scrumptious whoopee pie!
Pumpkin and Chocolate Whoopie Pies with Cream Cheese Icing

That first whoopie pie I tried was so good, I knew it wouldn’t be long before I had to attempt making them at home. Luckily, our neighborhood Fall Fest presented the perfect occasion. Fall Fest coincided with Halloween weekend so I decided to make the pumpkin and chocolate whoopie pies from Baked and Baked Explorations.

The whoopie pies were a hit with the parents but less so with the kiddos. Another neighbor had picked up store bought cookies with glittery sprinkles so, of course, the young ones were all over them. I figured the chocolate whoopie pies would be the first to go and I’d be left with pumpkin whoopie pie leftovers. Whoopee! Surprisingly, that wasn’t the case. It seems pumpkin pairs better with beer according to my unofficial taste test. Based on the fact that I saw many a neighbor with a pumpkin whoopie pie in one hand and a brew in the other, I think all agreed. Of course, if your tastes run more towards the traditional, I'm sure a tall glass of milk is a fine accompaniment.

A couple of notes about the chocolate whoopee pies- the recipe as written in the book called for ½ cup of coffee in the ingredient list and then in the instructions mentioned ½ cup hot water as well. I wasn’t sure if this was a mis-print so I decided to split the difference and added ¾ cup of coffee. The dough consistency was fine and the cookies were scrumptious so I’m sticking with this method. Also, the pumpkin whoopie pie recipe called for chilling the puree for easier scooping and a higher, dome-like rise so I decided to chill the chocolate cookie batter for the same reasons. 
PUMPKIN WHOOPIE PIES
adapted from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking
3 c all-purpose flour
1 t salt
1 t baking powder
1 t baking soda
2 T ground cinnamon
1 T ground ginger
1 T ground cloves
2 c firmly packed dark-brown sugar
1 c vegetable oil
3 c pumpkin puree, chilled
2 large eggs
1 t pure vanilla extract
CHOCOLATE WHOOPIE PIES
adapted from Baked Explorations 
3 ½ c all-purpose flour
¼ t salt
1 ¼ t baking powder
1 ¼ t baking soda
¾ c dark unsweetened cocoa powder
2 t instant espresso powder
¾ c hot coffee
2 c firmly packed light-brown sugar
¾ c vegetable oil
1 large egg
½ c buttermilk, shaken
1 t pure vanilla extract

CREAM-CHEESE FILLING *I found 1x the recipe to be plenty to ice both batches
adapted from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking
3 c confectioners' sugar
1/2 c (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1 t pure vanilla extract

For the Pumpkin Whoopie Pies:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Farenheit. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicon mat and set aside.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves and set aside. In another large bowl, whisk together brown sugar and oil until well combined. Add chilled pumpkin puree and whisk until combined. Add eggs and vanilla and whisk until well combined. 
3. Sprinkle flour mixture over pumpkin mixture and whisk until fully incorporated.
4. Using a small ice cream scoop with a release mechanism, drop heaping tablespoons of dough onto prepared baking sheets, about 1 inch apart. Bake until cookies are just starting to crack on top and a toothpick inserted into the center of each cookie comes out clean, about 10 - 12 minutes. Allow to cool on pan.

For the Chocolate Whoopie Pies:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicon mat and set aside.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda and set aside. In another large bowl, whisk together cocoa powder and espresso powder. Add the hot coffee and whisk until the cocoa and espresso powders are dissolved.
3. In a medium bowl, stir the brown sugar and oil together. Add this to the cocoa mixture and whisk until combined. Add egg, vanilla and buttermilk and whisk until smooth.
4. Fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients using a spatula.
5. Allow the dough to chill in the fridge for at least an hour.
6. When thoroughly chilled, use a small ice cream scoop with a release mechanism to drop heaping tablespoons of dough onto the prepared baking sheets, about 1 inch apart. Bake until cookies are just starting to crack on top and a toothpick inserted into the center of each cookie comes out clean, approximately 10 - 15 minutes. Allow to cool on pan.

For the filling:
1. Sift confectioner' sugar into a medium bowl and set aside.
2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter until smooth.
3. Add cream cheese and continue to beat until well combined.
4. Add confectioners' sugar and vanilla and beat until smooth.

Assemble the whoopie pies:
1. When cookies have cooled completely, spread 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.
2. Transfer to prepared baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate cookies at least 30 minutes before serving and up to 3 days.

9 comments:

  1. if i wasnt alone, i would kill someone for one of those! oh yes i would

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  2. @Moodswings- They are pretty damn good!

    @FoodLover- Thanks for stopping by. Those Nutella crepes on your site look divine as well!

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  3. Kids and their glittery cookies! They have no idea what they missed. Both versions look great. I'm sure the pumpkin is good with beer, but I think I'd like to taste a pumpkin one while holding a chocolate one in my other hand.;)

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  4. @Lisa- I'm sure at some point I probably put down my beer and did have one of each in both hands. Unfortunately, I bypassed the cook out portion of the fest and just filled up on dessert!

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  5. These would be so much better than store-bought pumpkin pie at a holiday potluck. Also easier to eat than cupcakes... I've got this bookmarked for Christmas!

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  6. @Austingastronomist Did you catch Fete and Feast's post on making homemade pumpkin puree? Wish I had seen it before I made these b/c the canned stuff is totally unappetizing. I've never been a big fan of pumpkin pie but I just might try making one with homemade puree.

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  7. OMG. I MUST make these! The pumpkin ones look divine! Well, they both look divine, but I am on such a pumpkin kick at the moment that I'm particularly drawn to those. Bookmarking...

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  8. Hey Michelle- you really should make them, since it's the season and all. Not that I wouldn't eat a pumpkin whoopie pie anytime of the year but right now is the perfect excuse to!

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