Yesterday was Qing’s 50th birthday! The lab made sure she had the best birthday ever with banners, balloons, flowers, yeast-streaked plates that read “Happy 50th B-day Qing”, took her out to lunch and, of course, dessert! Every year she tells me that her favorite thing I make is red velvet cake. But I wanted to make her something a little different for her special day.
I have never made whoopie pies before, and I’ve only eaten one ever (and it was tiny and not very good honestly). But I decided that I needed to try them out. Originally I was going to buy a whoopie pie pan, but Tracey from Tracey’s Culinary Adventures convinced me that all I needed was a cookie scoop. I think they come out much prettier this way – nice and round on the edges like cookies. From pictures I have seen the pans create a slight corner on the edges, which isn’t a bad thing necessarily, but I can make them pretty without buying another pan! And cookie scoops have more utility.
This recipe made 25 = 12 whoopies + 1 extra piece. I ate the extra one plain, and immediately thought it tasted like a pancake. Not in a bad way though, especially since the frosting has plenty of sugar in it to balance it out. Then I obviously had to have one fully completed and it was perfect. The cookie part is really soft – denser than a cupcake, but softer than a cookie. And the cream cheese frosting in the middle? That frosting is always my absolute favorite. I could’ve eaten it all by itself but I’m not gonna object to the vehicle which transports it onto my taste buds. Then again, there is a little leftover and a spoon nearby…
RED VELVET WHOOPIE PIES
2 cups flour
2 Tbsp cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
8 Tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup buttermilk, at room temperature*
Red food coloring
8 oz cream cheese (I used Neufchatel)
5 Tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 tsp vanilla extract
2-1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
*I did not have any buttermilk, so I added 1/2 Tbsp white vinegar to 1/2 cup 2% milk and let it sit for 5 minutes (source).
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and brown sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the egg until incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Blend in the vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, beat in about a third of the dry ingredients, followed by half of the buttermilk, beating each addition just until incorporated. Repeat so that all the buttermilk has been added and then mix in the final third of dry ingredients. Do not overbeat. Blend in the food coloring until desired color reached.
- Use a cookie scoop (mine is 1-1/2″ diameter) to drop the batter onto the prepared baking sheets, 12 cookies to a sheet. Bake, one sheet at a time, for 7-9 minutes, or until the tops are set, rotating the baking sheets halfway through. Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheets at least 10 minutes, until they can be easily transferred to a cooling rack. Repeat with any remaining batter. Allow cookies to cool completely before proceeding.
- To make the cream cheese frosting, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment beat the cream cheese and butter on medium-high speed until well combined and smooth, about 2-3 minutes. Mix in the vanilla extract. Gradually beat in the confectioners’ sugar until totally incorporated, increase the speed and then beat until smooth.
- Pair the cookies up by shape and size. Flip one cookie of each pair over so that the flat side is facing up. Scoop frosting (using the same size as before) onto the flat-sided cookie of each pair, in the middle. Sandwich the cookies together so the flat sides are facing each other and press gently to help the filling reach the edges. To store, refrigerate in an airtight container.