With molasses, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves, these gingerbread whoopie pies are rich with robust flavor. Tangy and cool cream cheese filling adds the perfect contrast to these soft-baked holiday cookie sandwiches.
Whoopie pies… the cookie that’s not really a cookie at all. Are you familiar with this treat? Whoopie pies are actually little cake mounds sandwiched with a sweet filling. We love them and I’ve published a bunch of variations including red velvet whoopie pies and apple cinnamon spice whoopie pies, pumpkin whoopie pies in Sally’s Cookie Addiction, and traditional whoopie pies in the paperback version of Sally’s Baking Addiction. Did you know that in western PA, where my MIL is from, whoopie pies are called gobs? Whatever their name, they’re fantastic with the holiday season’s favorite baking spices.
Tell Me About these Gingerbread Whoopie Pies
- Texture: The cookies aren’t as cakey as traditional whoopie pies– they taste more like an actual cookie. Soft and moist in the centers with slightly chewy edges. Overbaking will dry them out, so keep a close eye on the bake time.
- Flavor: If you enjoy gingerbread cookies, you’ll love these gingerbread whoopie pies. (Plus, no cookie cutters needed!) Spiced with generous amounts of ginger and cinnamon, plus nutmeg, cloves, and molasses, there’s no arguing these are flavorful. What’s more, the creamy tangy cream cheese filling adds the perfect contrast to the cookie’s robust flavor. What a combo!
- Ease: We have a pretty straightforward recipe on our hands here. The cookie dough comes together with 2 bowls, a whisk, and spatula. No complicated shaping required, but a cookie scoop is helpful. Though you don’t *need* an electric mixer for the cookie dough, you can certainly use one. You need one for the filling anyway.
- Yield: This recipe yields 24 cookies which make 12 large whoopie pies– 2 cookies in 1 sandwich. You could also simply pipe or spread the filling on top of each cookie for a batch of 2 dozen frosted cookies.
Recipe Testing These Gingerbread Whoopie Pies
The starting point for these seasonal whoopie pies was my gingerbread snack cake. Determined (and with a gingerbread craving), I spent several days perfecting them. 5 batches, 6 batches, 7, or more? I lost count. What began with creamed butter and sugar transitioned into an oil-based cookie dough/cake batter of sorts. Creamed butter and sugar are ideal for cakey baked goods, but dried out the texture of the whoopie pies. Oil is a key ingredient in some cakes, so I made that swap. Brown sugar weighed down the cookie sandwiches, so stick with regular granulated sugar. There’s molasses in this cookie dough/batter anyway. A little baking powder, in addition to the baking soda, adds extra lift.
By the way, if you’re ever looking for a dairy free cookie recipe, make these gingerbread cookies without the filling/frosting. It’s an oil based cookie dough with no dairy needed. They’re tasty on their own!
3 Helpful Notes:
- Add some hot water. It’s an odd ingredient in cookies, but there’s a reason for its addition. Molasses is very thick and sticky. A consistency like this is pretty difficult to evenly mix into cake batters and cookie doughs. When mixed with hot water, its viscous consistency loosens. We do the same thing when we make gingerbread loaf. Hot water ends up being a useful addition because we usually add liquid (like milk) to whoopie pies anyway.
- Chill the dough. The dough may seem a little loose and oily. That’s completely normal and expected. (See left photo below.) I tested the recipe without chilling the dough and the cookies spread quite thin. The edges were unfavorably crispy, too. This recipe definitely benefits from 2 hours in the refrigerator before baking. In the right photo below, you can see how the dough thickened up after chilling.
- Use a cookie scoop. Since the cookies are sandwiched together, it’s important they’re all the same size. A cookie scoop makes that easy. Each cookie should be 1.5 Tablespoons of dough, so I recommend using a medium cookie scoop. If desired, you can make smaller whoopie pies to yield more sandwiches. See recipe note.
Spiced Cream Cheese Filling
I swear by the combination of tangy and cool cream cheese frosting with deeply spiced gingerbread. If you’ve ever tried these gingerbread cupcakes, you understand the hype of this delicious duo. I used the same cream cheese filling from these red velvet whoopie pies and added the spices used in the cookie dough– just a smidge of each is plenty. You can spread the filling onto the flat side of the cookie with a knife or you can use a piping tip. I used Wilton 1A.
Does the Filling Squish Out?
Yes, when you take a bite of the whoopie pies, the filling squishes out the sides. Not the neatest cookie to eat, so have a napkin handy. Hey, aren’t all the best foods messy?!
However! If you chill the assembled whoopie pies in the refrigerator and serve them cold, the filling thickens and stays more intact. Might seep out a little, but not nearly as much. The cookies are best stored in the refrigerator anyway.
If you’re looking for a thicker filling that doesn’t squish out the sides quite as much, try the buttercream I use for these apple cinnamon spice whoopie pies or the marshmallow buttercream filling I use for these s’mores cupcakes.
These gingerbread whoopie pies combine soft ginger molasses cookies with cool and creamy cream cheese filling. Chilling the cookie dough is an important step because the cookies will spread out and crisp up otherwise– don’t skip it.
- 2 and 1/4 cups (280g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
- 2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 6 Tablespoons (90ml) unsulphured or dark molasses
- 1/4 cup (60ml) hot water
- 2/3 cup (130g) granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup (120ml) vegetable oil
- 1 large egg, at room temperature
Spiced Cream Cheese Filling
- 6 ounces (170g) block cream cheese, softened to room temperature
- 1/4 cup (1/2 stick; 60g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 1 and 1/2 cups (180g) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- small pinch of each: ground ginger, ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg, ground cloves (see note)
- Whisk the flour, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together.
- Whisk the molasses and hot water together. Give it a minute to slightly cool down, then whisk in the sugar and oil. Finally, whisk in the egg. Pour these wet ingredients into the flour mixture. Fold everything together with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon until combined– or use a mixer on medium speed. (It’s a bit too heavy for a whisk.) Dough/batter is heavy and looks a bit oily.
- Cover the dough and chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours and up to 2 days.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Line large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Set aside.
- Spoon or scoop mounds of batter, a scant 1 and 1/2 Tablespoons each, onto prepared baking sheets about 3 inches apart.
- Bake the cookies for 13-14 minutes or until the edges appear set. Remove from the oven and allow cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Make the filling as they cool.
- Make the filling: In a large bowl using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, beat the cream cheese on high speed until completely smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. Add the butter and beat until smooth and combined. Add the confectioners’ sugar, vanilla, and spices, then beat on medium speed until combined. Taste. Add a pinch more of the spices if desired.
- Pair the cookies up based on their size. Spread or pipe (I used Wilton 1A piping tip) the frosting onto the flat side of one cookie and sandwich with the other. Repeat with remaining cookies.
- Cover leftover whoopie pies and store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
- Make Ahead & Freezing Instructions: Filling can be made 2 days in advance, covered, and stored in the refrigerator until ready to use. You can prepare the whoopie pie cookie batter, cover it tightly, and refrigerate for up to 2 days. No need to bring to room temperature before scooping and baking. You can freeze the baked and filled whoopie pies for up to 3 months. Wrap them individually with plastic wrap and place in a large freezer container. Thaw wrapped whoopie pies overnight in the refrigerator or at room temperature.
- Doubling This Recipe: This recipe yields 24 cookies, which is 12 whoopie pies since there’s 2 cookies in 1 sandwich. If you’d like to double the recipe, double each ingredient except for the oil. Instead of 1 cup of oil, use 3/4 cup (180ml). The dough will be too greasy otherwise.
- Smaller Whoopie Pies: Measure 1 scant Tablespoon of batter for each cookie to yield about 18 smaller pies. Bake time is about 1 minute less
- Molasses: 6 Tablespoons is an easy measurement– measure 1/3 cup, then add 1 more Tablespoon. I found 1/3 cup wasn’t enough and 1/2 cup was too much. I use and recommend dark molasses. (I like Grandma’s brand. The kind I use is labeled “original” molasses.) Blackstrap molasses is extremely bitter and not ideal in this recipe.
- Spices in Filling: You only want a small pinch of each spice in the filling. I recommend half of 1/8 teaspoon, which is 1/16 teaspoon. Feel free to add only a little of each, taste after beating the filling ingredients together, then beat in more of any spice if desired. I usually go a little heavier on the cinnamon.
Keywords: gingerbread, whoopie pies, christmas cookies