Why have I never made whoopie pies before? They are like cakes, but portable. What? You think I just described cupcakes? Here’s the thing that’s always bugged me: there is no elegant or polite way to eat a cupcake. It just doesn’t seem right to use a fork on them (and what if you don’t have a plate and silverware available, huh?), and when you stick your face in a giant cupcake, you just don’t look good. And mini cupcakes? Too small. Way too small. I like my portable treats more than one bite.
Here’s why I probably never made whoopie pies. The name. Whoopie pies? Seriously? Where did that even come from? Pies aren’t cakes, after all. It just doesn’t make sense. Also, a few months ago, Bon Appetit had a face-off between whoopie pies and macarons. Macarons won. This must have stuck in my mind for some reason, giving me an unfortunate whoopie-pie-prejudice.
Well, I hereby rescind my snobbishness towards whoopie pies. Who cares what they are called. These things are insane. Not to mention MUCH easier to make, and arguably more rewarding (more than one bite, anyone) than a macaron.
Here are a few things you will need to make red velvet whoopie pies. The awesome Baked Explorations cookbook, Adele loudly blasting in your kitchen, and a latte from Alterra. You will not need a furry baking assistant who likes flour a bit too much.
Red velvet. Oh, red velvet. I learned that red velvet is a Southern thing that requires cocoa powder, red food coloring, and shortening. If it doesn’t have those three things, it is not red velvet. Prepare to get red food coloring all over your hands and to be shocked by how saturated the color of the dough is. Don’t worry, it’s not as frightening once baked.
Plop the batter on your tray and get them into the oven. Check out those pictures! Doesn’t it seem like they magically rise up all perfect, piled on top of each other and filled with frosting? I’d like to tell you that’s what happens. But that would be lying. It is not that easy.
Side note: You will have a few special ones. I am not sure why this happens, but it works out to your favor, because then you can eat them along the way.
I almost stopped there ’cause the things were so good on their own. But persevere. Cream cheese frosting is calling. Don’t worry, the recipe makes more than enough frosting to have a few spoonfuls before you make the whoopie pies themseles.
And there you have it. Whoopie pies. A Saturday afternoon adventure in your kitchen.
They only keep three days in the fridge. But somehow I don’t think that will be an issue, even if you’re the only one eating them (for breakfast, lunch, and dinner).
Red Velvet Whoopie Pies
Adapted from Baked Explorations
Makes about 19 pies
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons dark unsweetened cocoa powder (=Valrhona)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup canola oil
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 tablespoon vegetable shortening, at room temperature
3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup white sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
generous 1/2 tablespoon red gel paste food coloring
Cream cheese frosting
3 cups sifted powdered sugar
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
For whoopie pies
In a large bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. (You might want to just whisk it together, but you won’t get the cocoa powder evenly distributed that way, so definitely sift.) In another bowl, whisk together the buttermilk and canola oil.
In a stand mixer, cream butter and shortening until smooth. Scrape the sides of the bowl with a spatula and add the sugars. (If you accidentally forget to cream the butter and shortening together before adding sugar, like I did, don’t worry, they will turn out fine.) Beat the sugars and butter/shortening mixture together until fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add egg and vanilla extract; beat until combined; scrape sides of bowl. Add the red food coloring, and beat on low until just incorporated–don’t overmix.
Turn mixer to low and add the flour mixture, alternating with buttermilk mixture, in three additions so that you end with the flour mixture. (So that’s flour – buttermilk – flour – buttermilk – flour. You got it.) Beat until just combined, scrape the sides, beat a smidge more, and stop yourself. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for 15 minutes.
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper while you wait for the batter to chill. When ready, use a small ice cream scoop or cookie scoop (about a tablespoonful) to scoop batter onto prepared sheets, about 1 inch apart. Bake for about 13-17 minutes (check at 10, mine took 15-17), until top starts to crack slightly and a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Allow to cool.
Sift powdered sugar in a separate bowl (again, worth not skipping this step). In an electric mixer, beat butter until smooth; then add cream cheese and cream the two together until quite combined. Add powdered sugar, vanilla, and salt; beat until smooth, being careful not to overbeat.
Assemble the pies
Spread out your pie bases/tops and flip ‘em over. Use the same cookie scoop to scoop some icing into the center of one of the pies, grab a top, and gently smoosh together so filling reaches to the edges. Optional: coat the sides of the icing in crushed, toasted walnuts (the Baked Explorations cookbook informs me this is very Southern) or in white nonpareils.
Keeps 3 days; store in fridge on parchment-lined baking sheet covered with plastic wrap.
Slowing down…Hello there! A quick note: The blog has slowed down while the author is in grad school--but it hasn't been forgotten, fear not! Posts just won't be every single week anymore. Thanks for stopping by!
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