Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Chocolate & Salted Caramel Whoopie Pies

There’s a reason I don’t make up my own recipes.  I’m just not good at it, and I don’t have time to waste.  These whoopie pies were originally going to be Chocolate & Pumpkin Marshmallow Cream Cheese Whoopie Pies.  I had a hard time deciding on a marshmallow fluffy type filling, or a pumpkin cream cheese filling, and figured I could just wing it and do a mash-up.  Well… what I made was like 3x the amount I needed, it tasted good, but it didn’t taste spectacular when combined with the chocolate component.  *sigh*  I hate wasting time, and I hate wasting ingredients.

I was making these whoopie pies to take to a dessert bake-off at work for Halloween, so they had to be GOOD!  Luckily my friend Cate of Cate’s World Kitchen had made whoopie pies using the same recipe I had used for the cookie/cake part, and she filled hers with Salted Caramel Frosting.  As I’ve said before salted caramel really is one of my favorite flavors.  This combo made for a MUCH better pairing than my previous pumpkin-y attempt.  These whoopie pies were so delicious!  Make them today, and you won’t be disappointed!

Whoopie Pies adorned with sprinkles for the bake-off at work on Halloween.

Are you’re wondering how I did in the bake-off at work?  Well, these babies helped me in a three way tie for first place.  We drew numbers out of a basket to determine our place, and whaddya know I got #3.  In the company newsletter it was announced that I got third place.  Either way, these whoopee pies were definitely worth the effort!


Chocolate & Salted Caramel Whoopie Pies

I find it easiest to keep the cookie/cakes uniform in size by using a cookie scoop. I also used a medium cookie scoop to try and keep the filling uniform as well. This way you can also decide if you want to make medium, or large whoopie pies by choosing which size cookie scoop to use. The original yield says 8, but I got 17 total whoopie pies when I used my cookie scoop, which is approximately 2 tablespoons.


For cakes:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder*
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup well-shaken buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 large egg

For frosting:
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tbsp water
1 tbsp corn syrup
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 tsp fleur de sel
1/4 cup sour cream
6 tbsp softened butter
3 cups powdered sugar

*If you can't find dutch process cocoa powder, Hershey's makes a Special Dark cocoa powder, and it works just fine. I've found that at various Walmart & Kroger groceries.


For cakes:
Preheat oven to 350°F.

Whisk together flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt in a bowl until combined. Stir together buttermilk and vanilla in a small bowl.

Beat together butter and brown sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes in a standing mixer or 5 minutes with a handheld, then add egg, beating until combined well. Reduce speed to low and alternately mix in flour mixture and buttermilk in batches, beginning and ending with flour, scraping down side of bowl occasionally, and mixing until smooth.

Spoon 1/4-cup* mounds of batter about 2 inches apart onto 2 buttered large baking sheets. Bake in upper and lower thirds of oven, switching position of sheets halfway through baking, until tops are puffed and cakes spring back when touched, 11 to 13 minutes. Transfer with a metal spatula to a rack to cool completely.

*I used a medium cookie scoop, which is approximately 2 tablespoons, to yield more, smaller cakes.

For frosting:
Put the granulated sugar, water and corn syrup into a heavy saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir to combine, then cook until the mixture is a nice, deep golden brown.

While the sugar is cooking, bring the salt and cream to a simmer in another saucepan.

Once the caramel is the right color, remove the pan from heat. Wait one minute, then stir in the heavy cream. Let cool for a few minutes, then whisk in the sour cream. Set aside to cool.

Once the caramel is cool, beat the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer until smooth. Add the caramel and powdered sugar, and beat until it has a spreadable consistency.

Spread a thick layer of frosting on the flat side of one cookie, then top with another.

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