It's Fall in San Francisco, the land of eternal Autumn and an average of 56 degrees F. Really, this is my first true fall here in the city, after moving to the Bay Area in January 2010. Last year I was in the midst of my culinary externship in New Orleans, romping around in the relief of tolerably cooler weather and dressing up as a toddler from Toddlers and Tiaras for Halloween. There is no better place to spend Halloween than New Orleans, specifically Frenchman Street, where dancing in the street with costumed strangers goes laaaaate into the night.
This year things are a little different around here...as in I have graduated from culinary school, gotten married and am expecting a little girl in January! Yes, an actual human baby that is an as-yet unnamed girl!! So, no rampant boozing in ridiculous costumes for me this fall. As restitution, I am eating more cake-related items. Yeah yeah, pregnancy cliché... but I'm actually ok with a pumpkin whoopie pie instead of a glass of wine (for now) so that's what this post going to cover. Also, I'm going to just tra-la-la-la waltz right into a blog post about whoopie pies and telling you all that I'm graduated, pregnant and married and act like it's completely normal to just drop that kind of information on people. So, deal with it.
As for the whoopie pies... they are just straight up delicious y'all.There is something about the texture of these lil guys that is addictive. It's like a cupcake and a cookie had a baby and then that baby got slathered in delicious cream cheese frosting... yep. And, it's fall so of course it's time for some pumpkin flavored goodies! If you aren't ravenously consuming squash-flavored desserts and coffee beverages, you better get your shit TOGETHER. ASAP. These kinds of things have a limited shelf life! After Thanksgiving it's gonna be all "peppermint and hot chocolate" and you're going to wish you'd taken more time to relish all the brown-orangey goods that are currently so prevalent. Haven't you been looking at Pinterest, an online world dedicated to the glorification of seasonal crafts and snacks?! And on that note, I want to share something really special with you, my devoted readers. It's an essay from the online publication McSweeney's, and I feel it really encapsulates the spirit of autumn, with an ode to Decorative Gourd Season. I read it faithfully each year, with great reverence. Please enjoy, preferably with a pumpkin whoopie pie in hand!
Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with Cream Cheese Filling
Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit, October 2009
Yield: 18 cakes
Cream Cheese Filling1 ½ cup powdered sugar, sifted
½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
16 oz cream cheese
1 Tbsp Vanilla extract
2 Tbsp Maple syrup
Cakes3 cups all purpose flour
1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
1 ½ tsp baking powder
1 ½ tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground ginger
Dash ground cardamom
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
¾ cup (packed) golden brown sugar
¾ cup sugar
½ cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs
1 15-ounce can pure pumpkin
½ cup milk
Nonstick vegetable oil spray
In a stand mixer, using the paddle attachment, beat sugar, butter and cream cheese until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add vanilla extract and maple syrup and beat until blended. Let stand at room temperature.
Sift together the first 7 ingredients into a large bowl. In the bowl of your stand mixer, beat butter and sugar until fully blended. (This recipe calls for more spices than the original- it would’ve been quite bland without at least this much of each spice, but I thought there was room for even more… add to your taste!)
Pouring in a thin stream, beat in oil. Add eggs (these should be room temperature) 1 at a time, making sure they are fully incorporated before adding the next. Beat in pumpkin. Add half of dry ingredients, then milk, then the rest of the dry ingredients, beating to completely blend with each addition and scraping sides of the bowl. Chill batter for at least 1 hour. (I ended up using some of the batter the day I made it and using the rest the next day and it worked great).
In a cold oven, arrange 1 rack in bottom third of oven and 1 rack in top third of oven; preheat to 350°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment; spray lightly with nonstick spray. (I highly recommend using two sheets at a time, or else you’ll be baking mini cakes all day). Spoon batter onto baking sheet to form cakes (about 3 level tablespoons each; about 12 per baking sheet), spacing apart. Let stand 10 minutes- this allows it to warm up a bit.
Bake cakes until tester inserted into centers comes out clean, which should take about 20 min. Rotate about halfway through baking. Cool cakes completely on baking sheets on rack. Using a small offset spatula, spread about 2 tablespoons filling on flat side of 1 cake. Top with another cake, flat side down (duh). Repeat with remaining cakes and filling.