Pumpkin Whoopie Pies
Sorry for the momentary lapse in recipes this week. That’s what happens when the internet service is out at my house, and I spend my entire workday away from the computer, wiring pinecones and greens together for the most elaborate Christmas display you’ll ever see. I have to say the past couple of days (56 hours to be precise, not that I was counting) of life away from cyberspace have really opened my eyes about exactly how addicted to dependent on the digital world I am. Granted, I often go without checking my email and the blog/comments while I’m travelling or on vacation. But at home, I’m bordering on obsessive. Are you that way too? By the end of this recent Web outage, I was actually finding it refreshing to sit and eat my breakfast by the sunny window, rather than the glowing screen. Perhaps I need to wean myself off the cyber juice a bit.
But one thing I can’t do without is writing and creating for this blog. Gosh, I just love it! And having such great readers really is the icing on the cake. Or, in this particular instance, the icing between the pumpkin cookie halves. Dear, dear readers, let me introduce you to Pumpkin Whoopie Pies. Perhaps you’ve already met their counterpart, the traditional chocolate whoopie pie. Or, if you’re from the south, their close cousin, the moon pie. But among the ranks of all the other sandwich cookies, pumpkin woopie pies stand out as the absolute best (in my humble opinion as a pumpkin junkie).
Whoopie pies, for those of you still scratching your heads, consist of two cookie/cakey halves of varying flavors (those that I’ve actually tasted include chocolate, vanilla, carrot, red velvet and, of course, pumpkin) smooshed together using a thick layer of very fluffy sweet-but-not-too-sweet icing in the middle. The consistency of both the icing and the cookie is key to a good whoopie pie. My grandmother is the rock star of the whoopie pie making world and gets hers perfect every single time: moist but airy cookies with a slight crumb and super fluffy icing that gets just the lightest crust on the edges so it doesn’t all squish out on your good blouse when you bite down on the pie.
I’d like to say this is my grandmother’s recipe, but alas, I was in too much of a hurry to call her up and get it when I decided I was craving whoopie pies in a real bad way. I do have her chocolate version so I tried to find one that seemed in keeping with its spirit. While the recipe below didn’t yield whoopie pies quite as amazing as my grandmother’s, they were darn good! I think they’d make a great addition to the snack stash at the upcoming family holiday gatherings. Or take them to a less formal dinner party like I did and have fun watching all your friends lick their fingers at the table.
Like Oreos, everyone has a favorite way to eat a whoopie pie. Mine? First, let them “age” for a day before you eat any (ha! I always lose my resolve and eat one as soon as they’re made but it’s never as good as the ones I let sit). Then, freeze them and eat them cold. The texture is so fun when they’re frozen! Wanna share your favorite way to eat a whoopie pie?
Pumpkin Whoopie Pies
Adapted from Allrecipes.com
1 C. vegetable shortening
2 C. packed brown sugar
1 t. vanilla extract
3 1/2 C. all-purpose flour
1 1/2 t. baking powder
1 1/2 t. baking soda
1 t. salt
2 t. ground cinnamon
1 t. ground ginger
1 t. freshly ground nutmeg
1 1/2 C. pumpkin puree
1/4 C. all-purpose flour
¼ t. salt
3/4 C. milk (soy milk works fine too)
1 C. vegetable shortening
3 ½ – 4 c. confectioners’ sugar
3 t. vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 400 F and prepare baking sheets by spraying with non-stick spray.
In a mixing bowl, cream shortening and brown sugar. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger in a bowl or ziplock bag, mixing to combine. Add to creamed mixture alternately with pumpkin, mixing well after each addition.
Drop by rounded spoonfuls (I used an ice cream scoop) onto baking sheets, leaving plenty of room between each as they spread. Flatten slightly with the back of a spoon. Bake for 10-11 minutes until they spring back when pressed lightly with a finger. Remove to wire racks to cool.
For filling, combine the flour and salt in a saucepan. Gradually whisk in milk until smooth; cook and stir over medium heat for 5-7 minutes or until thickened. Cover and refrigerate until completely cooled.
In a mixing bowl, cream shortening, 3 ½ cups confectioners’ sugar and vanilla. Add chilled milk mixture; beat for 7 minutes or until fluffy. Taste and add more sugar as desired. Spread on the bottom half of the cookies; top with remaining cookies. Wrap each whoopie pie separately in plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator. Flavor improves with a day of storage and pies will keep for up to a week and can easily be frozen for long-term storage. In fact, I love to eat them frozen!