Monday, September 12, 2011

Whoopie Pies of the Red Velvet Variety

       Until just last year I was unfamiliar with the concept of "red velvet". I had seen red cakes before and I had heard the name on rare occasions, but I'd always taken them simply to be white cakes with red food coloring. Unfortunately this is sometimes the case--when sneaky bakeries attempt to pass off their faux red velvet goodies as authentic. But hey, like me, when you've tried a real red velvet cake… you'll know right then and there that it's no white cake. 
Red Velvet Whoopie Pies
        Now I'm completely hooked on red velvet. While I adore the traditional red velvet cake, I was in the mood for something a little… different. Different as in whoopie pies.
        I seriously would like to know who came up with the name for these treats. I feel kind of ridiculous saying it out loud. For example, my younger brother Robert strolled into the kitchen as I was filling them and asked what I was making.
        "Whoopie pies," I answered.
        To which Robert stared at me, waited for the punchline, and in there being none, replied, "What?"
        If you're like my brother and have never heard of a whoopie pie, it's basically a creamy filling sandwiched between two cake-like cookies. Traditionally whoopie pies are chocolate, but the flavors of red velvet work wonderfully here-- two soft and cakey red velvet cookies with cream cheese filling in the middle to mimic the traditional red velvet frosting.
        According to my recent cookbook purchase, Baked Explorations (which I strongly recommend to bakers everywhere), true red velvet must contain cocoa powder and buttermilk, as well as shortening for a fluffy texture. These whoopie pies have all three. 
        The Verdict: I made about 30 whoopie pies for my lovely aunt Nancy's birthday party, seeing as she is a major fan of red velvet. As soon as it came time for dessert, the pies were gone in just a few minutes and loved by all.
        I only received one complaint from the partygoers...
        ...that I hadn't made more red velvet whoopie pies for them to eat.

Red Velvet Whoopie Pies
(Adapted from Baked Explorations)
Print This Recipe
Yield: 10 to 15 large or 20 to 30 small pies

For the Whoopie Pies:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup canola or vegetable oil
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 tablespoon vegetable shortening, room temperature
3/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon red gel food coloring

For the Cream Cheese Filling:
3 cups confectioners' sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt

To Make Pies:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper, or three if you want to make smaller pies.
  2. In a large bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together canola oil and buttermilk.
  4. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and shortening until smooth. Scrape down bowl and add both sugars. Beat until mixture is light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add egg and vanilla extract; beat until combined. Scrape down sides and bottom of bowl, add the 1 tablespoon of red gel food coloring or enough to achieve desired shade, and mix on low speed for a few more seconds to incorporate. Do not overmix.
  5. Turn mixer to low speed. Add flour mixture alternating with buttermilk mixture, in three separate additions, beginning and ending with flour mixture until just combined. Scrape down sides and bottom of bowl; mix on low speed for a few more seconds.
  6. Cover batter with plastic wrap and chill in refrigerator for about 15 minutes. 
  7. Remove batter from refrigerator. Use a small ice cream scoop with a release mechanism to drop balls of dough of desired size, being mindful that they will spread a bit in oven, onto prepared baking sheet about 1 inch apart. Bake for 10 to 20 minutes or until cookies are just starting to crack on top and a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Let cookies cool completely on pan while you make the filling.
To Make Cream Cheese Filling:
  1. Sift confectioners' sugar into a medium bowl; set aside.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat butter until completely smooth. Add cream cheese and beat until combined.
  3. Add confectioners' sugar, vanilla, and salt; beat until smooth. Don't overbeat filling or it will lose structure. (Filling can be made 1 day ahead: Cover bowl tightly and put in refrigerator. Let soften at room temperature before using).
To Assemble Whoopie Pies:
  1. Turn half of cooled cookies upside down, with flat side facing up. Use an ice cream scoop, tablespoon, or large pastry tip to drop a large dollop of filling onto flat side of cookie. Place another cookie, flat side down, on top of filling and press down slightly so filling spreads to edges of cookie. Repeat until all cookies are used.
  2. Put whoopie pies in refrigerator for about 30 minutes to firm up before serving. The pies will keep for up to 3 days in refrigerator, on a parchment-lined baking sheet covered with plastic wrap.

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  1. Gotta love whoopie pies! Especially of the red velvet variety!

  2. They look so good..... I love red velvet anything!!!

  3. Those are beautiful. I thought I didn't like red velvet for a long time because I also thought it was just cake died red. Then I had the real thing, and if done right, is great! Great post!

  4. I love red velvet!!! And whoopie pies are on my list of things to make! I bet they taste great.

  5. When I first saw whoopies pies I thought they were macarons, but now I know different! I've yet to try red velvet but I'll be sure to stay away from the white-cake-red-food-colouring dangerzone :)

  6. I'm so obsessed with whoopie pies! They're like sandwich cookies, on cakey and way better!

  7. Beautiful job and no surprise at all they disappeared so quickly. The Whoopie Pie name never fails to give me the giggles. ;)

  8. Red velvet whoopie pies! Holy cow I have got to try these, wow! Drool, it's 4 in the AM and all I can think about now are red velvet whoopie pies. Lol awesome post and gorgeous photos. Thanks for sharing =]