Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

Welcome to the test kitchen! Well the temporary test kitchen, while I try out new pumpkin recipes this year. I enlisted some help for ideas on what type of pumpkin recipes to make. The first response was Pumpkin Whoopie Pies, which I immediately put on the list as the first thing to make.

This recipe was really easy. Getting the ingredients for this recipe? Not so much. Are you aware that there is a canned pumpkin shortage this year? Neither was I, but I am now. I went to the store to pick up my pumpkin and was met with a little sign that stated that due to a whole lot of rain at the Libby pumpkin patch there is no pumpkin. What? How can that be? How can there be no pumpkin this close to Halloween and Thanksgiving? And apparently Libby is the only supplier of pumpkin because there wasn't even an empty space on the shelf where the other brand of pumpkin should have been. I was lucky enough to spot a space on the very bottom shelf way in the back that had a few cans above the listing: Organic Pumpkin Puree, $1000. I snatched up the last two cans. I am a fan of organic stuff and I figured the time it would save me would make it all worth it. And it might have... please continue.

I got home and went about my directions until I got to the part where I was to add the pumpkin. I opened the can and immediately knew that something was wrong. Where there should have been a lovely orange puree, with nice texture, there was a dark, sickly, runny, mess with large specks of spice. Not good! I picked up the can as I remembered that I had not actual read the label while at the store, and found exactly what I thought I would find.  Organic Pumpkin Mix!  $&#%! Pause. Breathe....................... breathe again........ *%^#^!

I continued my little number and symbol venting while I put my shoes on and went back to the store (make that three stores) with the baby in tow to find that no one has any pumpkin. Apparently Libby has a monopoly on pumpkin, which should be illegal! Just saying.

So I went to the produce section and there they were. The little pie pumpkins. I cracked and decided it really would be easier to just make my own, plus I was halfway into the recipe already and I really wanted a pumpkin whoppie pie. I picked up the small pumpkin and began to load them into my cart but was interrupted by chubby little hands that really wanted the orange "ball". I handed one over and it was immediately held out over the floor, dropped, and saved (by me), and replaced in the cart, to the protests of "baaaaallll, ball, ball, ball." I spied a small yellow and green gourd that looked a lot like a pumpkin and handed it over to delighted squeals. He carried his "pumpkin" with him all night giving it kisses, and trying to eat it like an apple, funny little person. He was very upset when we wouldn't let him sleep with it.

If you do not have time to roast your own pumpkin you can wait until October 1, when Libby has promised to grace the shelves of supermarkets everywhere once again with their canned pumpkin. However, it's not hard to roast it yourself. It took a little longer but now when I have grandkids and I propped them up on the chair next to me to make Pumpkin Whoopie Pies at Halloween I can break out the Great 2009 Pumpkin Shortage story. I'm thinking of throwing in an uphill walk in a snowstorm to fight my way through crowds to get the pumpkin just for a little spice.

How to Roast a Pumpkin:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a rimmed cookie sheet with foil or parchment paper. Cut off the tope part of the pumpkin, cut pumpkin in half. Remove seeds and nasty stringty stuff. Place pumkin cut edges down so you have a little pumkin cave or sorts. Cook for about an hour or until the flesh of the pumpkin is soft. (someone do a pumpkin word count on this post and get back to me). Remove the pumkin from the oven and flip over so that the cut side is now facing up so it can cool.

When cooled enough to handle scoop out the flesh. I put mine just like that in the refridgerator overnight since I was running out of time thanks to the trip to the store. Then I pureed it the next night and baked with it. If the puree is too dry add a tiny bit of water until it is smooth. If it is too wet, bring to a boil on the stove in a pot. Still too wet, strain through cheesecloth. If you bake the pumpkin instead of boiling it, it probably won't be too wet. Voila! See? Easy.

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with Cream Cheese Filling
Adapted from Matt Lewis of Baked Bakery


3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon ground cloves
2 cups firmly packed dark-brown sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
3 cups pumpkin puree, chilled
2 large eggs
1 taspoon pure vanilla extract
3 cups confectioners' sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat; set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves; set aside. In a LARGER bowl, whisk togehter brown sugar and oil until well combined. Add pumpkin puree and whisk until combined. Add eggs and vanilla and whisk until well combined. Sprinkle flour mixture over pumpkin mixture and whisk until fully incorporated.

You can use a small ice cream scoop here with a releasing mechanism, (but I just used heaping tablespoons to make smaller pies). Drop heaping tablespoons of dough onto prepared baking sheets, about 1 inch apart. Transfer to oven and bake until cookies are just starting to crack on top and a toothpick i nserted into the center of each cookie comes out clean, aobut 15 minutes. Let cool completely on pan.

Sift confectioners' sugar into a medium bowl; set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter until smooth. Add cream cheese and beat until well combined. Add confectioners' sugar and vanilla, beat just until smooth. (Filling can be make up to a day in advance, bring to room temperature before using).

Assemble the whoopie pies: Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. Transfer filling to a disposable pastry bag (or a plastic sandwich bag like I did, works the same and you probably have one of those) cut the end off the bag (or the corner of the sandwich bag). When the cookies have cooled completely, pipe a large dollop of filling on the flat side of half of the cookies. Sandwich with remaining cookies, pressing down slightly so that the filling spreads to the edge of teh cookies. Transfer to prepared baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate cookies at least 30 minutes before servings and up to 3 days.

Makes 18 small or 12 large pies

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