I know it’s not even Thanksgiving yet, but we started listening to Christmas music this week, attended a tree lighting in the city Saturday night, and are already preparing Christmas shopping lists. So let’s face it – the holidays are here! As such, I decided to go with a festive recipe for this month’s Secret Recipe Club reveal – these pretty Red Velvet Whoopie Pies!
I made about 1,000lbs of red velvet cake for my best friend’s wedding this past September, so I’ve basically felt sick every time I thought of or saw red velvet for the past couple of months (tragic, I know). But for some reason when I was perusing Jamie’s blog Cookin’ With Moxie, these stood out to me, and when I asked Kevin his opinion I’d barely presented all of the options before he told me to go with the whoopie pies.
I’m so glad I did, because these are really good! I haven’t made whoopie pies in a longgg time, so these were a nice change. I also haven’t been baking much lately, period, because things have just been too busy, so I was thrilled to have a big pan of these sitting at home.
I made a couple of changes to the recipe, which originally came from Baked Explorations (a book I have yet to get my hands on, but really need to!) First, I substituted 1 cup wheat flour for 1 cup all-purpose flour, which produced a textural change you can notice in the final product, but it didn’t impact the flavor at all. I also used butter in place of the shortening, as I’m not a big fan of shortening, and didn’t even have any in the house. Lastly, I used a bit less powdered sugar in the frosting, just because I don’t like it to be too sweet. The resulting whoopie pies were a pleasing combination of pillowy and tender – really the perfect texture, not too light and not too heavy.
The wheat flour added a bit of grittiness to the cookies, but not in a particularly bad way. I like to think adding a bit of wheat flour makes these better for me, and so when you can barely even tell in the final product, that’s a total win. The frosting is a very basic cream cheese frosting, but it pairs so perfectly with these red velvet cookies. They’re a wonderful dessert – filling but not heavy, sweet but not sugary, and they’re pretty to boot!
A quick bakers note: I used a cupcake scoop for these, one scant scoop for each cookie, and one scoop frosting for each sandwich. This ratio worked out to make the perfect cookie-t0-frosting ratio!
Whoopie Pie Ingredients
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup white whole wheat flour
3 tablespoons dark unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk
1/2 cup butter (1 stick) plus 1 tablespoon, cut into pieces, at room temperature
3/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon red gel food coloring
Cream Cheese Filling Ingredients
2 1/2 – 3 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
For the whoopie pies:
Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silpats (that’s what I used, worked like a charm.
1) In a large bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
2) In a small bowl, whisk together the canola oil and buttermilk. Set aside.
3) In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter until smooth. Scrape down the bowl and add the sugars. Beat until mixture is light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until incorporated. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl, add the food coloring, then continue to mix on low speed for a few more seconds to incorporate. Be sure not to overmix.
4) With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture, alternating with the buttermilk mixture, in three separate additions, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Mix until just incorporated after each addition. Once you’ve finished adding ingredients, scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl, then mix on low speed for a few more seconds.
5) Cover with plastic wrap and chill the batter in the refrigerator for about 15-20 minutes. Preheat over to 350 degrees F.
6) Remove the batter from the refrigerator. Use a a small scoop with a release mechanism to drop heaping tablespoons of the dough onto the prepared baking sheets about 1 inch apart. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until the cookies are set on top and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let the cookies cool completely on the pan while you make the filling.
Make the Cream Cheese Filling
For the cream cheese filling:
1) Sift the confectioners’ sugar into a medium bowl and set aside.
2) In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter until it is completely smooth. Add the cream cheese and beat until combined.
3) Add the confectioners sugar, vanilla and salt and beat until smooth.
Turn half of the cooled cookies upside down (flat side facing up). Using a small scoop or a tablespoon, drop a large dollop of filling onto the flat side of the cookie. Place another cookie, flat side down, on top of the filling, and press down slightly so that the filling spreads to the edges of the cookie. Repeat until all the cookies are used. Put the whoopie pies in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes to firm up before serving.
The whoopie pies will keep for up to 3 days on a parchment lined baking sheet covered with plastic wrap, in the refrigerator.