pumpkin whoopie pies (with cream cheese or regular filling)
King Arthur flour is dangerous. If you order some King Arthur high-gluten bread flour, it will come with a catalogue. It’s the catalogue that’s really the dangerous part. All of a sudden, you’ll be convinced that what you need more than anything is a muffin scoop. Or “cake enhancer,” whatever that is. But in addition to tempting items to purchase, the catalogue also has recipes. Most recently, it featured a recipe for pumpkin whoopie pies.
Amanda was intrigued, since she had actually only had her first (non-pumpkin) whoopie pie a few months prior, when her boyfriend’s grandparents brought some home from the farmers market because the beloved carnivore also has a bit of a sweet tooth. Luckily, Emily was automatically on board with trying out the pumpkin whoopie pie recipe because she’s basically obsessed with pumpkin this year. Thank heavens those early reports of pumpkin shortages this season turned out to be somewhat overstated. Otherwise, Emily would probably have spent a lot of hours this fall wandering around the grocery store, mourning the pumpkin puree and praying for a fairy godmother who’d turn her magic coach back into a pumpkin and then give her a giant food processor to puree the stuff herself.
The recipe calls for a cream cheese filling, which concerned Amanda a bit because she’d promised the sweet-tooth-having boyfriend she’d bring him a few of these. He only wanted a few because he loves classic whoopie pies so much (particularly his aunt’s), that he was worried Amanda would get her feelings hurt if she gave him a dozen or so of these puppies and he didn’t devour them all in one sitting like he would his aunt’s. Who says men don’t understand feelings?
Anyway, carnivore/sweet tooth is a big believer that you don’t mess with the classic whoopie pie filling. So we made a half-batch of the King Arthur cream cheese filling and a half-batch of normal filling and did a little experimenting. Emily thinks that the cream cheese filling is tasty but it makes the whoopie pies less like whoopie pies and more like handheld pumpkin cakes. Of course, handheld pumpkin cakes are also delicious, so figuring out which filling works for you will kind of depend on what you’re in the mood for.
Pumpkin Whoopie Pies
barely adapted from King Arthur Flour; makes about a baker’s dozen of fully assembled/sandwich-style whoopie pies
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
- 1/2 cup canola oil or regular vegetable oil
- 2 cups firmly packed brown sugar (we used a mix of dark and light)
- 2 TBSP molasses (warning: smells icky until cooked, at which point it smells and tastes delicious)
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 rounded tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 2 rounded tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- rounded 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp ground cloves (optional)
- 2 large eggs
- 15 oz pure pumpkin puree (not the pie mix!)
- 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and line 2 or 3 baking sheets with parchment paper or grease them. Since we had to re-use one of the baking sheets in order to cook all the cake batter, it was nice that we’d lined them with parchment paper (less messy and less prep work!).
Beat the butter, oil, and sugar until smooth. Add the molasses, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and seasonings. Beat till well-mixed. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. At this point, the mixture will look pretty dark.
Add the pumpkin and about half of the flour then beat again. Add the rest of the flour and then beat just until it’s well-mixed. At this point, the batter will look much more orange and pumpkin-y.
Using a nice round tablespoon measure (or a soup spoon), drop the batter by rounded tablespoon onto the baking sheets. These will spread more than cookies while baking, so leave at least two inches of space between the little cakes. Bake for 16 to 18 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into one of the cakes comes out clean. Using a spatula, transfer the cakes to a cooling rack. Or, you know, arrange them near your cooling rack and hope that’s good enough because you only own one cooling rack.
Let the cakes cool completely. While they’re cooling, make whichever filling you prefer (see options below). Assemble and store according to the instructions below.
Filling, Option 1 (King Arthur / cream cheese)
Note: this makes a full batch, enough to fill all of the whoopie pies
- 8 oz cream cheese, softened
- 4 TBSP butter, softened
- 2 cups confectioners’ sugar, divided
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
Using a mixer, beat the softened cream cheese and butter until fully mixed and fluffy. In two batches, sift the sugar into the bowl, mixing after each addition. Add vanilla, and beat until light and fluffy.
Filling, Option 2 (classic)
For the classic filling, we used Amanda’s boyfriend’s aunt’s recipe, which he politely requested that she ask her for while she was visiting (“Maybe while you’re over there you could ask for the whoopie pie recipe. You know, just so you have it, you might want to try to make them . . . some time. . . ). We haven’t officially consulted our Emily Post, but it seems obvious that it’d be in poor taste to share other people’s family recipes. So for this filling option we suggest you use whatever classic filling you’re a fan of. We poked around on the internet and found this recipe, which looks like a good one (although the marshmallow fluff is optional, at best).
After the cakes have cooled, put about a tablespoon and a half of filling on the bottom (flat side) of a cake. Top with another, hopefully similarly-shaped cake and squish them around a bit (gently) to even out the frosting.
To keep these whoopie pies freshest, and also to prevent yourself from downing all of them in one sitting, wrap individually in plastic wrap.
P.S. Did you know how important sugar is as part of your daily diet? At least according to the back of my box of dark brown sugar, sugar is just part of a balanced diet. Hmm.