So Valentine's Day is fast approaching and if you are looking for something festive to make, whether for your sweetie-pie or even for yourself, these are just the thing. Cream cheese icing is sandwiched between delicious soft red velvet cookies. These are much less time consuming than making an entire red velvet cake (one of my personal favorites) so these are good for a mid-week treat.
They say that whoopie pies are quickly replacing the cupcake as the next dessert comfort food craze, but frankly, I will take either. :) These are fun to make though. Once you've finished assembling these little guys, you can roll the edges in sprinkles like I did in the picture or mini-chocolate chips or crushed nuts like walnuts or pecans would be good as well.
For the Whoopie Pies
2 1/2 cups all-purpose 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), softened, cut into pieces
1 tablespoon vegetable shortening, at room temperature
3/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar (I used light and it worked fine)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon red gel food coloring (I used regular red food coloring because it was all I had and it was fine).
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
In a small bowl, whisk together the canola oil and buttermilk.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and shortening until smooth. Scrape down the bowl and add the sugars. Beat until the mixture is light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla extract and beat until combined.. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl, add the red food coloring, then mix on low speed for a few more seconds to incorporate. Do not overmix.
Turn the mixer to low. Add the flour mixture, alternating with the buttermilk mixture in three separate additions, beginning and ending with the flour mixture until just combined. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl, then mix on low speed for a few more seconds.
Cover with plastic wrap and chill the batter in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes. Remove the batter from the refrigerator. Drop heaping tablespoons of the dough onto the prepared baking sheets about 1 inch apart. Bake for 10 to 20 minutes, until the cookies are just starting to crack on top and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let the cookies cool completely before filling.
For the Cream Cheese Filling
3 cups confectioners' sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter until its completely smooth. Add the cream cheese and beat until combined. Sift the powdered sugar into the butter mixture and add the vanilla and salt. Beat until smooth. Be careful not to overbeat. The filling can be made up to one day ahead. Let the filling soften at room temperature before using.
Drop a large dollop of filling onto the flat side of the cookie. Place another cookie, flat side down, on top of the filling. Press down slightly so that the filling spreads to the edges of the cookie. Put the whoopie pies in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes to firm up before serving.
This recipe makes about 12 large pies or about 15 to 17 small pies.
Adapted from Baked Explorations: Classic American Desserts Revisited