red velvet whoopie pie
(I need to digress a bit and sing the praises of BAKED's sophomore cookbook, BAKED EXPLORATIONS. It is beautifully art directed; the whole feel of the book—photos, layout, typefaces are arresting, appealing, and gorgeous. I loved looking through it. Try to check out the book if you're ever at the library or bookstore.)
The Red Velvet Whoopie Pie seems appropriately, festively hued for Christmas. I didn't make the BHG peppermint cream cheese (I've had bad experiences with peppermint extract), but if you'd like a bit of peppermint, I suggest rolling the edges in and sprinkling on top some crushed peppermint candy.
RED VELVET WHOOPIE PIES
from Baked Explorations by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito
For the pies
2½ cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons dark unsweetened cocoa powder (like Valrhona)
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
¼ cup canola oil
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk
½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened, at room temperature
1 tablespoon vegetable shortening, at room temperature
¾ cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon red gel food coloring
For the cream cheese filling
3 cups confectioners' sugar
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
pinch of salt
Make the Whoopie Pies
Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line two 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 gel 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. Use a small ice cream scoop with a release mechanism to drop heaping tablespoons of 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 of a cookie comes out clean. Let the cookies cool completely on the pan while you make the filling.
Make the Cream Cheese Filling
Sift the confectioners' sugar into a medium bowl and set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter until is completely smooth. Add the cream cheese and beat until combined.
Add the confectioners' sugar, vanilla, and salt and beat until smooth. Be careful not to overbeat the filling, or it will lose structure. (The filling can be made 1 day ahead. Cover the bowl tightly and put it in the refrigerator. Let the filling soften at room temperature before using.)
Assemble the Whoopie Pies
Use an ice cream scoop or a tablespoon to 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.
The whoopie pies will keep for up to 3 days on a parchment-lined baking sheet covered with plastic wrap, in the refrigerator.