One of the best things about moving to Pennsylvania was being so close to three different farmers markets. My week is not complete without time spent perusing through stalls of brightly-colored flowers, leafy vegetables and beautifully marbled meats. I chat with cheesemongers. I swap recipes with other shoppers. I love to learn about where my ingredients come from and what they pair best with. And sometimes (okay, all the time) I try new foods. One of the best things I've tried thus far is a pumpkin whoopie pie.
What's a whoopie pie, you ask? Well, if you picture two soft, cakey disks sandwiching a massive amount of sweet frosting, you've got a pretty good idea. They're traditionally made with chocolate, but there are a few stands in the farmers market that make the pumpkin variety, even after the fall. I thought these were a strictly Pennsylvania thing, but I'm told they're popular in New England too (that's news to me!). Anyway, they're also popular in Brooklyn, where the Baked Bakery makes an award-winning version. I lucked out and got the cookbook for Christmas and if the reaction to the whoopie pies are any indication of the other recipes, my friends will be very happy that I got the book too.
Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with Cream-Cheese Filling (adapted from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking as seen on examiner.com)
Whoopie Pie Ingredients:
3 cups All-purpose Flour
1 TSP each of salt, baking powder, and baking soda
2 TBS ground cinnamon (I actually misread the recipe and used teaspoons instead of tablespoons for cinnamon, ginger & cloves. The result is a more subtle spice. Still delicious).
1 TBS ground ginger
1 TBS. ground cloves
2 cups packed light or dark brown sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
3 cans pumpkin puree, chilled
1 TSP vanilla
For the cream cheese filling:
3 cups confectioners' sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 TSP vanilla (I used a tsp of maple flavoring instead. You can use maple syrup, but it will make for a looser consistency. If you do use maple syrup, use a lower grade like grade B because it has a stronger flavor than grade A)
For the Whoopie Pies:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat.
In a large bowl, whisk together all the dry ingredients, including spices; set aside. In a second bowl, whisk together brown sugar and oil well. Add the pumpkin puree and whisk again till fully combined. Add eggs and vanilla and whisk once again. Sprinkle flour mixture over pumpkin mixture and whisk until fully incorporated.
If you have a small ice cream scoop/ melon baller, get it now. If not, put equal, heaping tablespoon sized dollops 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 toothpick inserted into the center of cookie comes out clean, about 15 minutes. Let cool completely on pan.
For the filling:
Beat softened butter in a mixer with the paddle attachment (if you have one). Once it's light and smooth, add cream cheese and beat until well combined. Sift in the confectioners’ sugar, then the vanilla, and beat just until smooth.
It's best to pipe the filling onto the cookies. If you don't have a pastry bag, just take a large plastic Ziplock bag and cut off 1/2 in. or so of one corner. Fill the bag with the frosting using a spatula. Pipe the frosting on one side of the cookie, then top it with a 2nd cookie, pressing gently.