I must admit- I’ve never really been into whoopie pies until last year when I made my first batch. I suddenly occurred to me that you know that trick everybody does where they take their cupcake and tear off the bottom and place it on top of the frosting to create a sandwich? well…it’s kind of like creating your own whoopie. Besides, whoopies are a whole lot cuter-especially when you make them mini size they are perfect party fair.
Come on, you know you want an excuse to call up your neighbor and ask “Do you want to come over for some whoopie?” Ha Ha Ha. Sorry, I had to slip that in there. But kidding aside, it’s fun to have the girls over to catch up on the neighborhood gossip (not kidding- kinda, sorta) while you scoot the boys outside to the deck while they drink their beer so you can nibble on a few of these cuties drinking your seasonal drink of choice.
I made two mini sizes. I was playing around with the recipe during my recipe development phase; including even how to scoop them. At first I tried using the ice cream scoop method using a mini scoop, and they just did not come out uniform or smooth enough on top, (esp. since the batter is a bit sticky), so I switched to using the tried and true piping bag method. Not only was the piping bag method the winner but each and every cookie came out uniform in size (but full disclosure I used a template*See note below). I piped two different sizes (1.5 inch and 2 1/4 inch size). I know this is rather small, so you can obviously go bigger since we are talking really small here. I would not go bigger than 3 inch size though since they are a rich in flavor. I actually think the 2 1/4 inch size is perfect to be quite honest which is about 3 bites worth.
Pumpkin Spice Whoopie Pies
yield: 2-3 dozen depending on the # of size you make
3 Cups all purpose flour
1 Tbsp. + 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. kosher salt
3 Cups canned pumpkin puree
1 C vegetable oil
2 Cups firmly packed light brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
In a large bowl place the pumpkin puree, vegetable oil, and egg and whisk to combine. Then add in the brown sugar and vanilla and whisk again to combine until smooth. Using a metal type strainer, hold it over the bowl and sift through the dry ingredients, then whisk until combined. (Alternatively you can whisk the dry ingredients in a separate bowl and add to the wet). Regardless, mix gently until the mixture is comes together but do not over mix. Fit a piping bag with a large round tip (I like to use an 806). Prepare baking sheets with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 350° F with rack in center position. Pipe batter spaced about 1 1/2 inches apart. Bake one tray at a time 10-12 minutes until just set and when touched they spring back. Let cool on tray for a few minutes then remove to cool completely on wire rack. When cool sandwich with cream cheese frosting recipe. Note: for the 2 1/4 inch cookie size I felt that 1 tablespoon scoop frosting worked perfectly, and the smaller size, just use a little less.
* A long winded word about templates….I have a heavy paper type macaron template I use for my piping that I slide under the parchment paper and right before the cookies are ready to bake simply remove the template and reuse for the next tray when piping. I have various sizes that I’ve made over the years by copying circles with a sharpie around biscuit cutters. For a useful tip- Fold down the two opposite corners of your parchment sheets and then fold them back up so the corners are standing back up to use as a “Tab” so you can to grab the piping template a bit easier. If you don’t have the patience to make a template here are two recourses of two different sizes. For the 1.5 size the Southern Fatty blog has a template here. For a 2 1/4 inch size, here is a link for a 2 inch template here, and you can quickly trace with a 2 1/4 biscuit cutter using a pen to mark the outline so you have the right size and print out another sheet tape the two sides together so you can slide it under to fill a half sheet pan under your parchment. If this seems like a lot of work, you’re right, but you will be amazed that you will not waste any unmatched sized cookies when it comes to assembling your whoopies. Also, if you like to make macarons like I do- save your templates and you can use them over and over again multiple times. So, it’s up to you how OCD you want to be. Me, I’m a perfectionist when it comes to stuff like this, so hey, I can’t help myself.
Cream Cheese Filling
1 stick (1/2 C) unsalted butter (cold), cut into 1/4 inch size cubed pieces
8 oz. cream cheese (cold) and cut into 12 equal pieces
3 Cups confectioners sugar, sifted
1 tsp. vanilla
In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, place the cold cubed butter and beat until pliable and the butter is sitting along the sides of the bowl. Scrape down the bowl, and beat a few more times on low. Add in the cold cream cheese and beat on low speed for a few minutes, stopping to scrape down, and in between the beater to loosen the cream cheese so that it falls to the bottom of the work bowl. Continue to beat on low to medium speed for a few minutes until the two come together. Add in about half the confectioners sugar and stir speed slowly at first so that the sugar does not cause a mess, then increase speed and beat on slow to medium speed, increase speed in bursts, but do not beat at high speed-you want the mixture to remain cold so it does not turn runny. Add in the other half of the sugar and continue to stop and start and scrape down sides a needed and beat on low speed just it has come together. When it looks like it has come together, increase on high speed just for a few seconds to get rid of any lumps, but no longer than a few seconds. Cream cheese frosting is funny-if you beat it to death-it looses its structure and turns too runny. I have been making my cream cheese frosting this way rather than starting from room temperature and it always maintains it’s structure. It helps to have the cream cheese cut into small pieces when you start. You might have to practice a few times, so don’t be too disappointed if you don’t get it perfect the first time. I hope you like this way!! I always start from cold now and it’s not failed me.
Pumpkin season is here! Have you been to Trader Joe’s?! If you have, then you know what I’m talking about- they take it to a whole other level, it’s a PUMPKINpalooza. Crazy. I left there in awe of all the pumpkin things they offer- it got me inspired to make a good pumpkin scone. It had to be moist, it had to have the right amount of spice, and it had to have a great glaze. I did three variations of the recipe before I came up with the right mixture of spice. FYI, pumpkin spice mix you buy in the store did not do it. Trust me on this. Pumpkin needs a lot of spice in order to let it sing. See below also for my tips on getting moist, tall scones.
Don’t you just love Fall? A good cup of hot cider, a great scone, the Sunday paper. What more does a girl need?
Pumpkin Spice Glazed Scones
yield: 8 scones
2 Cups All Purpose Flour
1/2 Cup sugar
1 Tbsp. Baking Powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. mace (seek this out- it makes all the difference!)
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1 stick (1/2 C) cold cubed unsalted butter
1/2 Cup canned pumpkin puree
1 lg. egg
1 tsp. vanilla
3 Tbsp. heavy cream
[Tips for making great scones:]
- Cut the butter first into small cubes, and set back in the fridge for 10-15 minutes to keep cold while you measure out the rest of the ingredients.
- Using a food processor helps to avoid overworking the dough AND keeping the butter cold while mixing.
- Do NOT overwork the dough. Overworking/overmixing the dough results in a drier less moist scone.
- Chill the formed scones to help retain their shape when baking (results in a taller scone).
- Always use an oven thermometer to make sure the oven is calibrated to the exact temp called for in the recipe.
- Place the rack in the mid high portion of the oven rather than the lower portion (prevents bottoms getting too brown)
In a food processor place the flour, sugar, baking powder, spices and salt. Pulse 4-5 times to combine well. Add the cubed cold butter and pulse until mixture resembles a coarse meal with the butter resembling size of peas.
Dump the flour/butter mixture into a large bowl and form a well in the center. In a glass measuring cup whisk together the puree, egg, vanilla, and cream. Add puree mix to the flour mixture and with a rubber spatula fold in the dry ingredients until combined. DO NOT OVERMIX! Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board and pat into a 7 inch circle. Cut like a pie into 8 equal wedges and place scones on prepared baking sheet, leaving at least 2 inches space between scones. Chill the scones in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 425° F and prepare a sheet pan with either parchment paper or a Silpat liner.
Bake the chilled scones at 425° F for 15-16 minutes. Avoid overbaking to ensure a moist scone.
Let the scones cool before glazing.
To glaze: Prepare the classic glaze and dip the top of each scone into the glaze (some will run down the sides) and set on a wire rack over a piece of parchment. Once set- mix the spiced glaze and drizzle over each scone. FYI: I think they taste better a bit warm, so I nuke mine in the microwave for about 20-30 seconds.
3/4 Cup confectioners sugar + more if needed
2 1/2 Tbsp. milk
In a small bowl whisk together the glaze until smooth. Add a Tbsp. or more confectioners sugar as needed if glaze not thick enough. You don’t want it too thin.
Spiced Drizzle Glaze:
Once the scones are dipped in the classic glaze, use the leftover Classic Glaze in the same bowl and whisk in these spices: 1/4 tsp. cinnamon, 1/8 tsp. nutmeg, pinch of ginger, pinch of cloves.
Note: to turn the glaze a more pumpkin color- I add a bit of chocolate brown gel paste food coloring along with electric yellow gel paste to achieve the perfect pumpkin color; using a toothpick of each at a time until desired color. Wait until the classic glaze is set until you drizzle the spice glaze over.
Calling all pumpkin spice fans. How many of you have already made it into Starbucks for your pumpkin spice latte? Uh huh. That’s what I thought. Quite a few of you…Can we get enough of fall time pumpkin treats. I think not. Here’s something you can whip up on your own–no coffee house trip needed. Pumpkin Cheesecake bars. After I made these, I thought they looked a little plain so I added a recipe for a cream cheese frosting to spread on top if you like. Cheers~
Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars
1 1/2 Cup crisp gingersnap cookie crumbs
3 Tbsp sugar
6 Tbsp. unsalted melted butter
1. Line a 9×9 inch square pan with tinfoil. Preheat the oven to 350° F (180° C). Lightly grease the tinfoil. In a small bowl combine the ingredients well with a fork. Press into the bottom of the pan and bake at 350 for about 14-15 minutes until crust looks set around edges. (crust may look a bit wet–that’s okay). Let crust layer cool completely. Make the cheesecake layer while crust is cooling.
12 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 Cup confectioners sugar
1/2 Cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
3/4 Cup pumpkin puree* (note: pumpkin puree usually comes as a 15 oz. can–which gives you exactly 1 3/4 Cups puree; you will have exactly 1 Cup leftover puree after this recipe. Freeze the remainder in a ziplock baggie for another recipe that calls for pumpkin).
2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice (note: if you can’t find pumpkin pie spice, use 3/4 tsp. cinnamon, 1/2 tsp. ground ginger, 1/4 tsp. nutmeg)
1. With an electric mixer cream together the cheese and confectioners sugar until combined; about 3 minutes. Hint: to avoid excess air bubbles don’t go past speed 4 (or medium) on your mixer. Stop occasionally to scrape down bottom and sides of bowl. Add the brown sugar and mix (same speed) until combined. Add eggs one at a time until smooth; scraping down sides and bottom occasionally until smooth. Add in vanilla. Add the pumpkin puree and beat (same speed) until combined. Add in the flour, salt and spices and continue to beat until combined. Pour the mixture onto the cooled crust and rap the pan on the counter several times (about 20 times) until you no longer see any air bubbles rise to the surface (This helps prevent getting those nasty air bubbles you sometimes see on top of the cheesecake). TURN THE OVEN DOWN TO 300 DEGREES F TO BAKE.
2. Bake at 300°F for about 30-35 minutes or until just set. The middle portion of the pan should look JUST slightly jiggly when you gently shake the pan. Turn off the oven and prop open the door and let pan sit in the oven for about 15 minutes. Remove pan from oven and let cool completely over a wire rack.
Spread with cream cheese frosting if desired. To store: cover pan with tinfoil and chill in the fridge until firm enough to cut.
Cream Cheese Frosting (optional)
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
2 Tbsp. soft butter
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 1/4 Cup confectioners sugar, measured then sifted
In a small bowl combine the cream cheese and butter with a rubber spatula until smooth. Add the vanilla and stir in the sugar and combine until smooth. Spread over cooled cheesecake.
Are you ready for Thanksgiving? Are you ready for all your relatives in your house at once? Are you ready for the big love fest that will ensue?
That’s what I thought. You are so not ready. You’ve got about 9-10 days before the big event.
You know there is going to be a lot of hugs, kisses, and a little extra spice thrown in. That’s what makes life interesting- the spice part. Yes, count on some bickering, some whispering; “Seriously, what is that she is wearing?!”, some whining about who gets the comfy chair, and all the little
annoyances gifts that make up a family unit.
But you still all love each other.
Deeply. Never forget that part.
Thanksgiving is about love, sharing, and yes- embarassing family stories…and pie.
At some point that embarrasing story about cousin Timmy will bubble to the surface from someone who has had a little too much chardonnay. It’s okay. This is why we have pie on Thanksgiving.
Pie smoothes out all the bumpy spots. Pie=peace. Pie= silence. Pie=happiness. It’s my belief pie should be served at all foreign summits and UN meetings and much more would get solved…. But I digress. There is only one problem I can think of with pie. At some point, one of your clan will ask you to slice them just a sliver. You know there is always that one annoying relative who will refuse pie, (sure go ahead and refuse after I slaved all day). Diabetics are exempt. Don’t you know that it is a turkey day crime to refuse pie on Thanksgiving?!
“Oh, okay then, just a sliver for me” they mutter… (who are you kidding with that piece of sliver).
I can’t stand trying to slice a sliver.
Let’s get that straight- right now.
Now, I am in no way knocking the fact you are watching your weight or counting points or calories. Not in the least. I just have a big aversion to sliver slicing….So I have come up with a solution. Just try to refuse one of these mini pies bites. They are like pumpkin pie poppers; in essence the equivalent of a sliver of pie.
One last thing- I totally spotted you behind the fridge earlier with the can of Redi-Whip tilting your head back squirting in whipped cream. Your secret is safe with me. Sliver indeed….
It’s okay because I love you deeply.
Mini Pumpkin Pie Tarts
Yield: 24 mini tarts
Cream Cheese Press in Crust
3 oz. cream cheese, cubed at room temp
1 stick butter, cubed at room temp
1 Cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. sugar
pinch of salt
In a large shallow bowl combine flour, sugar and salt. Add the cubed butter and cubed cream cheese. Using a fork mix to combine into one cohesive mass. Knead gently into a ball to gather up any scrappy bits of dough. Let rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.
3/4 cup solid pack pumpkin (from a can)
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/4 teaspoon salt
raw sugar or regular sugar (for sprinkling crust)
1. prepare a 24 well mini muffin tin and spray with baking spray or use a silicone mini muffin pan. Whisk all the filling ingredients in large bowl until combined. Set aside. Using the dough, pinch off enough to form about a 1 inch ball size. Flatten dough ball into a disk and press into the bottom and up the sides of each muffin well. Pour 1 Tbsp. of filling into each pie crust well. Brush each top edge of crust with cream and sprinkle with raw sugar or granulated sugar. Bake at 375 degrees F for 25 minutes. Because it is a custard;the filling will continue to cook even after removed from the oven and set thoroughly once cooled. The filling will puff up but will flatten once out of the oven.
2. Rest the muffin tin over a wire rack and let the tarts rest for about 15 minutes before attempting to remove from each well. To guide out of the tin; use a thin edge knife and coax out of the wells, then let the tarts cool a bit more on a wire rack.
2. Serve at room temperature or chilled. Whipped cream optional. Store leftover tarts in an airtight container in the fridge.
Pumpkin Cranberry Muffins
Okay, I hate the word diet, so we are not even going there. Claudia would wag her finger at me if I even brought up the word. I can see her scolding me right now with her sweet toothy grin. It’s a life style change. We are getting healthy. We are changing our lives. Yes Darling, we totally get it 🙂 These are “healthy”, “lighter” and most of all; Weight Watcher friendly. To all my peeps who are going through the process with me at Weight Watchers counting points and slimming down, these muffins are each 5 points and they are really good. I came across this recipe a few years ago and have hung onto it ever since. Hey Claudia! (she’s our WW leader and might I add, SHE IS FIERCE!) this is in honor of you and thank you for the weekly love you always share! She keeps all of us on track each week and gives us unbounded support. These muffins are screaming for a cup of cider. I wonder how many points that would be….Claudia??? how many points is cider?!?
Pumpkin Cranberry Muffins
(recipe from Nov. 2007 Cooking Light issue)
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (about 6 3/4 ounces)
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup canned pumpkin
- 1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk
- 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 1 large egg
- 2/3 cup sweetened dried cranberries, chopped (such as Craisins)
- 1/2 Cup walnuts (optional)
- Cooking spray
- Preheat oven to 375°.
- Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, baking soda, and next 5 ingredients (though cloves); stir well with a whisk.
- Combine granulated sugar and next 5 ingredients (through egg) in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended (about 3 minutes). Add flour mixture to sugar mixture; beat at low speed just until combined. Fold in cranberries.
- Place 12 paper muffin cup liners in muffin cups; coat liners with cooking spray. Spoon batter into prepared cups. Bake at 375° for 25 minutes or until muffins spring back when touched lightly in center. Remove muffins from pan immediately; place on a wire rack.
Pumpkin Orange Spice Cake
Fall is officially here according to the calendar. This is exciting for us San Franciscans because it means finally our fog is lifting and we are coming into our “Indian summer”. The sky is suddenly blue instead of white, the sun is shining, the days are shorter but the smell of fall is in the air, and it’s such a fabulous time. This means pumpkins and orange colors of every hue. Big pumpkins, orange pumpkins, white pumpkins, cute little mini pumpkins and everything pumpkin in terms of baking.
I make this cake every fall and I always make the marzipan pumpkins that go on top of the cake. I actually taught my son Seth how to make the marzipan pumpkins and once he starts there is no stopping him. Seth loves to make anything out of marzipan. Everytime I whip out the marzipan he begs me to get involved. Molding shapes out of marzipan is like playdoh for adults. I think that’s why Seth really likes the marzipan……..you see I sort of banned playdoh in our house when he was little. Don’t judge…It’s just that I got tired of picking pieces of hard gunk out of the carpet….but I digress. This cake is very moist because of the pumpkin in the batter. It is a great way to welcome in the beginning of Fall.
Pumpkin Orange Spice Cake (yields 8 inch 3 layer cake, or 10 inch 2 layer cake)
3/4 C Unsalted butter, softened (1 1/2 sticks)
1 C Light brown sugar
1 C Sugar
3 Lg. eggs
1 C Pumpkin puree
1/2 C Buttermilk
2 tsp. Vanilla
2 oranges; zested
2 C All-purpose flour
2 tsp. Baking powder
1 tsp. Baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. Cinnamon
1/2 tsp. Nutmeg
1/4 tsp. Ground ginger
1 tsp. Salt
1/2 C Toasted walnuts or pecans (+ more for sides of cake)
1/3 C candied orange peel* (optional) [around this time in the stores you can start to find it in little shallow tubs packed in syrup] or you can make your own. (I make my own; but that is a recipe for another time).
Mascarpone cream cheese Icing (recipe below)
1. Preheat the oven to 350º. Prepare your chosen pans by spraying with baking spray and lining with parchment circles; spray again lightly.
2. Combine the pumpkin, buttermilk, orange zest, and vanilla. Set aside.
3. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and salt; whisk to combine.
4. Using a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugars on medium high speed until smooth and well combined.
5. Add in the eggs one at a time; stopping the mixer to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl after each addition.
6. Starting with the flour, alternate adding the flour and pumpkin mixture; scraping bowl in between each addition and ending with the flour mixture.
7. Divide the batter evenly into the pans and Bake at 350º for ~ 25-30 minutes or until the edges are browned and a toothpick coms out clean.
8. Cool the cakes on a wire rack for about 15 minutes, then remove to cool completely on the rack. Ice the cake with the cream cheese icing when completely cool.
Mascarpone cream cheese icing
(3) 8 oz. bricks cream cheese; softened
8 oz. container mascarpone cheese; softened
1/2 stick (1/4 C unsalted butter, softened)
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
5 Cups confectioners sugar (measure, then sift)
1. Sift the sugar, then set aside.
2. Using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment; beat the cream cheese, mascarpone, and butter until smooth. Add in the sugar a little at a time on low speed until combined. Add the vanilla and beat on medium high speed until smooth. Refrigerate until ready to use.
orange food coloring (gel type) * found at cake supply stores
whole cloves (or chocolate jimmies)
Method: Wear latex free gloves or use a plastic bag to color your marzipan. Add a little bit of orange coloring to the marzipan and knead in the coloring with your hands until desired color. I like to do two different colors of orange; one a bit darker. Once the color looks evenly distributed; pick off a ball of marzipan and roll into a ball. Using a toothpick rock the toothpick against the sides of the ball lightly to create pumpkin lines. Flatten the top of the ball slightly. Stick the whole clove or chocolate jimmy into the top. Warning; if you use the cloves; warn your guests not to eat the cloves; they are only for decoration or you can use the chocolate jimmy if you have small children or are concerned. I love to use the cloves because it the stem looks more real and also it gives off a nice scent.