Halloween Whoopie Pies

I have just been itching to make Halloween desserts lately.  It’s becoming quite the obsession.  I’ve rounded up a number of fun ideas from Everyday Food, Bakerella, and other Web sites…  The only real issues are time (can I possibly make them all?) and perhaps calorie consumption (can we possibly eat them all?). 🙂

We had friends over to watch football last Saturday and I thought we needed a sweet treat to go with our Kielbasa Black Bean Chili.  I had purchased the ingredients for Halloween Whoopie Pies from the October 2008 issue of Everyday Food earlier in the week, and since it was one of those recipes I could safely make in the morning without completely bombing out my kitchen, I went for it.

To make the cookie part of the pies, I started by whisking together 1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour, 1/2 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder, 1 teaspoon of baking soda, 1 teaspoon of baking powder, and 1 teaspoon of salt in a medium bowl.  I set the mixture aside.

Normally, I use my stand mixer for everything I bake these days, but this just felt like a hand mixer project.  In a large bowl (and seriously, go large to prevent butter bits from flying about the kitchen), I beat 1/2 cup (1 stick) of room-temperature unsalted butter with 1 packed cup of light-brown sugar until the mixture was light and fluffy.  I added a room-temperature egg and beat until the mixture was smooth.  With the mixer on low (and this is where the stand mixer would have come in handy), I alternately added the flour mixture and 1 cup of unsweetened applesauce, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.  I mixed until the batter was smooth, taking care not to overmix.

Using a cookie scoop for uniform shapes, I dropped heaping tablespoons of dough, two inches apart, onto two baking sheets.  (I lined mine with parchment, although the recipe didn’t say to do this.)  I baked my sheets one at a time in a 375F oven, 10 minutes per sheet.  (A toothpick or cake tester inserted into the middle of a cookie should come out clean.)  As each sheet came out of the oven, I used a thin spatula to immediately transfer the cookies to wire cooling racks.  (Careful, they’re a bit fragile!)

While the cookies cooled, I made the filling.  In a large bowl, still using my hand mixer (with clean beaters, of course), I beat 1/2 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract with 1/2 cup (1 stick) of room-temperature unsalted butter until it was light and fluffy.  I gradually added 1 cup of powdered sugar and beat until the filling was smooth.

When the cookies were completely cool, I filled them.  Using the same (now-clean) cookie scoop I used to portion the cookie batter, I placed a scoop of icing on each of the bottom cookie halves.  I used a knife to spread the icing around and then created sandwiches with the remaining cookie halves.  The recipe suggested gently squeezing the cookie halves together to make the filling ooze out a bit; don’t do it!  My cookies cracked and broke under the pressure.  I had much better luck just spreading the filling to the edges before sandwiching them.  Once the cookies were filled, I sprinkled Halloween nonpareils around the edges.

Halloween Whoopie Pies

My gosh, these were absolutely heavenly.  They were incredibly light and fluffy, kind of like Oreo Cakesters but bigger and way, way better.  My friend commented that he loved the salty flavor of the cookie with the sweet filling; the cookies weren’t salty, per se, but I think there was enough salt in the cookie batter to create the flavor contrast.

The only thing I would change for next time is that I would make twice the filling.  The recipe was supposed to produce 24 cookie halves (12 pies), but I ended up with 30 since I used my cookie scoop.  Unfortunately, I only had enough filling to make about nine whoopie pies, and I certainly can’t imagine them with less filling.  At least the leftover halves went to good use; Dr. O enjoyed them, filled or not.

TIPS:  The recipe didn’t specify whether the cocoa powder should be natural or Dutch processed (alkalized).  I used alkalized cocoa powder because that’s what I have in my pantry; I assume either will work just fine.

Also, whenever you use sprinkles, sprinkle over a plate, flexible cutting board, or piece of wax paper.  That way, you can transfer any strays back to the container to cut down on waste.

Recipe link: Halloween Whoopie Pies

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