I love this time of year! The leaves turning, the smell of fall in the air and one of my all-time favorite ingredients comes into season – PUMPKIN. We had a beautiful pack of pumpkins growing until a furry rodent (i.e. squirrel) got into the patch. Oh well! That is a part of gardening – isn’t that right?!?
This year, I will have to make due with some store bought pumpkins. When shopping for pumpkins (or planting them), you want to select varieties that are specifically bred for cooking. Smaller varieties have a denser flesh with a smooth texture and higher sugar content. Traditional varieties that are commonly found at grocery stores include ‘Small Sugar’ and ‘New England Pie’. There are several newer varieties that are great for cooking, but may be harder to find at the grocery store, so growing them would be a better option, they include ‘Baby Pam’, ‘Autumn Gold’ and ‘Ghost Rider’. I selected ‘Small Sugar’ as that is what was available to me. Also when picking your pumpkins make sure there are no holes, cracks or soft spots – this is a sign the pumpkins are not fresh.
Now that we have selected our pumpkins, making puree is the simple part, but it takes some time. Here is the process for creating homemade pumpkin puree. I know that it takes extra time, but you will not be sorry. You can really tell the difference. The excellent thing about it is that it can be frozen and used in the future. Also pumpkin is perfect for baby food as it’s an excellent source of fiber, beta-carotene, potassium and vitamin C.
Let’s get into the Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with Cream Cheese Frosting!! These are so good – I swear I was having a foodgasm while eating one. If you love pumpkin and cream cheese frosting – you will absolutely love this recipe.
Pumpkin Whoopie Pies – makes 1.5 dozen
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 c. unsalted butter, softened
3/4 c. homemade pumpkin puree or canned (do not use pumpkin pie filling)
1/2 tsp. of vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
1 c. of all-purpose flour
1/2 c. of cake flour (can use all-purpose if not available)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tbsp. cinnamon
1/2 tbsp. ground ginger
1/4 tbsp. freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp. all spice
1/2 tsp. ground clove
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
First cream softened butter in mixer using the paddle attachment. Then add brown sugar and blend until combined. Once incorporated, add all remaining wet ingredients (pumpkin puree, egg and vanilla). I use vanilla bean paste as I find it more flavorful than extract. Mix until well combined.
In a separate bowl, combine all dry ingredients. I prefer to put the them through a sifter to remove all the lumps, but it also does a sufficient job of blending them together. Using freshly ground spices make the recipe more flavorful. However, I only used freshly ground nutmeg.
Once combined, add your dry ingredients to your mixer with the wet ingredients. Slowly mix your them together – so that flour doesn’t go all over the kitchen. Been there – done that! Do not over mix – just make sure it is well blended.
Now there are two methods – either you can use a small scoop and place on a greased cookie sheet to make round whoopie pies or you can spread the dough to a nice layer on parchment paper or a jelly roll plan (or any pan that will allow you to form a thin layer). I choose to do this because I wanted to have my whoopie pies in the shape of pumpkins.
Place into preheated 350 oven for 10 to 12 minutes. Use a toothpick to check doneness. If not wet when removed, take out of oven and set to cool. Then cut into pumpkin shapes. Let pies cool before putting on cream cheese frosting.
Cream Cheese Frosting –
4 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
8 oz. low-fat cream cheese
1 tsp. vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
1 1/4 c. powder sugar
Put all ingredients in a mixer and blend until thoroughly combined. I like to set my mixer on high so that the frosting has a lighter consistency, but this is up to your personal preference.
Try not to eat all the frosting before the whoopie pies have cooled.
Once pies have cooled. Use a pumpkin cookie cutter to get this holiday shape. Spread cream cheese frosting on one half to your desired thickness and top with another pumpkin whoopie pie. Serve!
These make the perfect additional to any party taking place in the autumn season. I hope that you enjoy them as much as I do!