Friday, March 20, 2009

Is Whoopie Pie the new cupcake?

The NY Times has an article this week about the sudden national prominence of the previously regional Whoopie Pie. Check it out here.

I made whoopie pies back in fall, and I admit I'm a convert. These fluffy cake like cookies sandwich a thick layer of decadent frosting. Why should people in Maine have all the fun?

The classic version is often chocolate with vanilla icing, but I made Martha Stewart's pumpkin version with cream cheese icing. They were completely addictive and gone in a flash! Granted pumpkin is seasonal, but even the professional baker in the NY Times article says that people seek her version out year round. Yum!

Pumpkin Whoopie Pie

Makes 12 whoopie pies (in my case it made 10 and by #11 I couldn't get a decent scoop with my ice cream scoop)

Ingredients
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
* 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

Directions

1. Make the cookies: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat; set aside.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, 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.

3. 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.

4. 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, 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.)

5. 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 (You can also use a ziplock bag with the corner cut off like I did). 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.

*Photo credit: "Baked: New Frontiers in Baking" (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, coauthored with Renato Poliafito, October 2008)

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