Whoopie pies. It's about time! For months, I read about people's love for whoopie pies, all the while wondering what could possibly be so special about them. After all, whoopie pies are nothing but frosting sandwiched between two little cakes, right?
That's kind of right because they are really simple to make, but with the right filling and the right little cakes, they are quite special and a lot of fun.
Since fall is here to stay, my first batch of whoopie pies was inspired by a Wilton "Harvest" whoopie pie pan and their easy recipe for pumpkin spice whoopie pies. I added some ground ginger to add a little more zip to the cake batter, and I changed the frosting recipe slightly, adding in a little extra powdered sugar and substituting some brown butter for some of the cream cheese. The nuttiness of the brown butter is great in a cream cheese frosting like this one and the nutty aroma and flavor really come through since the frosting is not too sweet. I am madly in love with this frosting.
For the frosting, be sure to use Philadelphia full-fat cream cheese because the no-name brands just don't compare. In fact, I made two batches of this cream cheese frosting, one with Philly cream cheese and the other with my local grocery store's brand of cream cheese. The Philadelphia cream cheese produced the tastiest filling, but what was most shocking was the texture: the grocery store brand had an almost powdery feel to it and gave the frosting an almost grainy (unpleasant!) texture. The frosting made with Philadelphia cream cheese was much, much creamier, and really quite dreamy! (NB: Kraft did not pay me to write that)
If you're on the fence about whoopie pies, you should give them a try. They are a welcome change in a cupcake-dominated world. But if you don't have a whoopie pie pan, don't let that stop you! Bake small scoop-fulls of the batter on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
Pumpkin spice whoopie pies with brown butter cream cheese frostingMakes 18–20 assembled whoopie pies
For the whoopie pies
- 1 1/2 cups (188 grams) all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp ginger
- 1/8 tsp cloves
- 1/4 cup (57 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
- 2 eggs, room temperature
- 1/2 cup (125 mL) puréed roasted pumpkin
- 1/2 cup (125 mL) buttermilk (I make it from skim milk and a splash of white vinegar)
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray the whoopie pie pan with cooking spray. Set aside for later.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves. Set aside.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and the sugar for about 5 minutes.
- Add the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed with a spatula.
- In another small bowl, combine the pumpkin and buttermilk.
- To the mixer, add the flour mixture and the pumpkin mixture, alternately, beginning and ending with the flour.
- Fill each whoopie pie mold no more than half full, spreading the mixture into all the nooks and crannies.
- Bake for 7 to 10 minutes (I baked some longer than others so that the whoopie pies were all different golden browns, just like fall leaves and pumpkins).
- Let the whoopie pies cool for 5 minutes in the pan, then tap them out onto a rack to cool completely before filling.
- Begin by browning the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat until the milk solids turn a nutty brown. Set aside to cool.
- Beat together the cream cheese and the cooled brown butter (be sure to add all those nutty brown bits!) in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.
- With the mixer on low, slowly add the icing sugar. Beat until the desired consistency and level of sweetness is achieved.
- Spread the filling on one cake and sandwich with another. Repeat to assemble remaining whoopie pies.