Hello and welcome to COOKIE PALOOZA 2016.
If you’re new around Sally’s Baking Addiction, my annual cookie palooza hits right after Thanksgiving and it’s a total cookie party as we countdown until Christmas. 10 cookie recipes in a row, with all the butter, sugar, chocolate, and sprinkles you can imagine. I bake up a storm each November to prepare. So get your mixers ready, your ovens preheated, and belt loosened? because in year 4 (omg!), we’re doing it BIG.
Recipe #1: red velvet whoopie pies. You asked for them!
If we’re being honest, I was inspired to include these red velvet whoopie pies in the cookie palooza after experiencing THIS. They’re filled with cream cheese!! Many of you asked for a homemade version of those big bakery red velvet cookies and while I considered trying, I don’t think anything coming out of my oven could quite live up to City Cake’s perfection. So whoopie pies it is! Let’s check them out:
I’ve made chocolate whoopie pies more times than I can count. I love the family recipe so much that I published it in the paperback edition of Sally’s Baking Addiction— it was one of the 8 bonus cookie recipes! They’re soft and moist cakey cookies sandwiched together with sweet marshmallow frosting. Here, I switched the intense chocolate flavor with red velvet– an awesomely classic combination of vanilla, cocoa, and butter. No more marshmallow frosting, but instead a thick and tangy cream cheese filling. Think of these whoopie pies as handheld, individually portioned* red velvet cake. Like a cupcake, but more interesting.
*Portion control is good for you, remember?
Here’s the thing about whoopie pies: they’re vastly easier than they look!
The batter is quite basic using flour, a little cocoa, creamed butter and brown sugar. Brown sugar for moisture, cocoa for flavor! Make sure you’re using natural unsweetened cocoa powder. That is KEY in this red velvet recipe. Remember why? Buttermilk is essential for their flavor while a little gel food coloring creates their deep red hue. You can absolutely leave the food coloring out if you prefer.
A note about the optional food coloring: I tested this recipe with both liquid and gel food coloring. I 100% prefer the gel food coloring. It’s brighter and more intense than liquid. You’d need quite a lot of liquid to obtain that signature red color in these whoopie pies– and that added liquid isn’t ideal for a cookie. I got mine off Amazon, but you can find it at craft stores. So inexpensive!
The cookies will only take about 10-12 minutes in the oven, then let them completely cool before sandwiching cream cheese filling between. Who needs turkey or a BLT? Let’s all have our sandwiches in super soft red velvet form!! Lunch is… served.
I’ve been meaning to make red velvet whoopie pies for years, so I appreciate you pushing me to do so!
Fun fact: Did you know that in western PA, where my in-laws are from, whoopie pies are called gobs? I can’t decide which name I like better. They’re both fun!
Red Velvet Whoopie Pies
- 2 cups (250g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
- 3 Tablespoons (15g) unsweetened natural cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup (115g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 1 cup (200g) packed light brown sugar
- 1 large egg, room temperature
- 2/3 cup (160ml) buttermilk, room temperature
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- gel red food coloring
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 (plus more for topping)
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats (highly recommended for best nonstick cookie baking surface!). Set aside.
- Whisk the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt together.
- In a large bowl using a hand-held or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter for 1 minute on medium-high speed until completely smooth and creamy. Add the brown sugar and beat on medium high speed until fluffy and combined. Beat in egg on high speed, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. Once egg is full combined, beat in the vanilla and buttermilk. Mixture may look curdled; that's ok.
- On low speed, slowly mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until combined. Add enough food coloring to achieve a deep red hue (usually about 1 teaspoon gel). Spoon or scoop mounds of batter, about 1 and 1/2 Tablespoons each, onto prepared baking sheets-- about 3 inches apart.
- Bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes or until centers appear set. Mine usually take 11 minutes. Allow to cool completely before sandwiching.
- In a large bowl using a hand-held or stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, beat the cream cheese for 1 minute on high speed until completely smooth and creamy. Beat in the butter until combined. Add the confectioners' sugar and vanilla and beat on medium-high speed until combined and creamy.
- Pair the cookies up based on their size. Spread cream cheese filling onto the flat side of one cookie and sandwich with the other. Repeat with remaining. Sprinkle confectioners' sugar on top of each if desired. Cover leftover whoopie pies and store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
Make ahead tip: You can prepare the batter, cover it tightly, and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Let it come to room temperature and bake as directed. You can freeze the baked whoopie pies for up to 3 months. Wrap them individually. Before enjoying, thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
adapted from Better Homes & Gardens
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