As I was sitting down to write this post I thought I’d make a joke about how it was the first dessert I’d posted in ages that isn’t cake. But then I realized that of course whoopie pies are cake. Just small cakes, shaped into a sandwich with their icing. So the cake parade continues 🙂
The cake base here is the same one I use for these chocolate peanut butter cupcakes and this dark chocolate pear cake, only with slightly less liquid. It’s pretty tried-and-true in my kitchen at this point, and I had a very fun time shaping it into this seasonal treat.
The filling of the whoopie pies is a vegan buttercream with pumpkin pie spice and a pinch of turmeric for a light orange color (you could use food coloring to make it even more orange and festive).
As I’ve been snacking on these goodies, I’ve realized that they’re in many ways a dream dessert, for me. They’re a perfect answer to cake cravings, but slightly less of a commitment than, say, a cupcake. They’ve got just enough buttercream to be decidedly sweet, but the cake to frosting ratio is skewed in favor of cake, which I like. They’re fun to make, and the piping is easy.
In fact, you don’t have to pipe the buttercream into them at all. But I found that piping was both neater and easier than trying to use a spoon or knife to fill the pies up. It’s up to you. If you pipe, you can use a homemade piping bag, and it doesn’t need to be very precise, since the pies will get sandwiched up in the end.
For the Chocolate Cakes
- 2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour*
- 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 3/4 cup +2 tablespoons coconut or cane sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/3 cup neutral vegetable oil (such as safflower, grapeseed, canola, or refined avocado)
- 1 teaspoon apple cider or white vinegar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup cold water
For the Pumpkin Spice Buttercream
- 8 tablespoons vegan butter (1 stick)
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
- 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (or 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, 1/2 teaspoon ginger powder, and a pinch of cloves)
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
- 1-3 tablespoons non-dairy milk of choice (as needed)
Preheat your oven to 350F. Line two baking sheets with parchment.
Whisk the flour, cocoa, sugar, salt, baking powder and baking soda together in a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the water, vinegar, vanilla and oil. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and whisk until batter is glossy and smooth.
Use a 1.5-2 tablespoon cookie scoop (or a spoon) to drop the cake batter in rounds onto your cookie sheet. You can make larger or smaller whoopie pies by adjusting how big your mini-cakes are (mine were about 2 inches across before baking and a little wider after). Bake the mini-cakes for 8-10 minutes, or until set but not browning. Cool the cakes on a cooling rack for an hour or two, or until fully cooled.
To prepare the buttercream, place the butter and vanilla into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on low speed for 1-2 minutes, or until the butter is soft and fluffy. Mix the sugar, pumpkin pie spice, and turmeric, then add this mixture in 2-3 installments, beating on medium speed as you go. If the vegan butter you use isn't salted, add a pinch of salt, too.
Add 1-3 tablespoons of non-dairy milk to the buttercream and continue beating until it's still rich and firm, but soft enough to pipe. Add the milk slowly and use your judgment: you can add more milk if it's too firm or a little more sugar if it accidentally gets runny.
When the buttercream is ready, place it in a piping bag and pipe out two tablespoons onto the bottom of one of your mini-cakes in a circle pattern. Place another mini-cake on top and press gently to make the whoopie pie. Continue with the remaining buttercream and cakes; you should get about 18-24, depending on the size of your cakes! Enjoy.
*In place of all-purpose flour, you can use light spelt, whole wheat pastry, or gluten-free all-purpose flour.
These little pies are lovely for sharing, whether you give them to trick-or-treaters, offer some to classmates or coworkers, or just share with family and friends. I tried freezing a few, and that works, too: just be prepared for the fact that the buttercream edges may look a little less neat when you defrost. The pies will still taste wonderful, which is what matters most.
I don’t have big Halloween plans, but it’s a holiday that I love and always find a way to celebrate, even if that’s just watching a scary movie or smiling at kids dressed up and roaming the streets with their parents in my neighborhood. I’m happy to add a good homemade dessert to the celebration this year.
Happy Halloween, friends. I’ll see you for the weekend roundup.