Carrot Cake Whoopie Pies with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting
Whoopie pies are pretty boss.
I didn’t grow up eating whoopie pies on the reg, but I was always a huge fan of these handheld sandwich cakes. At least I was until an unfortunate experience in 2008, involving the consumption of approximately 15 late night whoopie pies after my 21st birthday party. Not only did those pies make me very ill, but they also ruined my fancy party dress, which was unforgivable. As a result, I swore off whoopie pies for good, and I managed to stay strong for five full years. Then last weekend happened…
The gift bags at my sister’s Maine wedding were filled with a smorgasbord of awesomeness, including an old school mix CD, pine pillows, and three different types of whoopie pies, which are apparently the official “state treat” of Maine. I left the reception with this bag of tricks, filled with champagne-fueled excitement about some new tunes and adding another pine pillow to my collection. I had zero interest in the whoopie pies.
Needless to say, things changed.
Post-wedding, Logan and I decided to visit a couple of hot spots in Bar Harbor with my little brother, Elliot, and the groom’s sister. Although the town isn’t exactly bumping in mid-October, I bravely followed Elliot to The Dog and Pony, where the “bouncer” (I use that term loosely in such a small town), high-fived him and waved us in. Kid’s got the hookups.
Honestly, I couldn’t have imagined a better scene. There was a bride (not my sister) happily chugging a Bud heavy in her bedazzled wedding dress, a college-age couple in sweatpants and flannel (my least favorite bar attire) performing some sort of dance routine to “I Got A Man” by Positive K, and a dude with butt-length dreads noodling alone. The classy drink of choice appeared to be shots of Jager. It was rowdy, and I liked it.
Our group stayed until last call, at which point Logan bought us chicken nuggets at a magical take-out window next door and escorted me home. Once safely in my bedroom, I seemed to forget that I had just eaten several nuggets, as I felt desperately in need of a late night snack. Enter: whoopie pies.
I sat on the floor carefully unwrapping all three of the gift bag’s treats and proceeded to go to town. Mid-way through the second pie, which I believe was blueberry cake with lemon buttercream frosting (dank), Logan warned me that I was going to make myself sick. Since this kettle was not interested in listening to the pot, I simply mumbled, “I do what I want,” as I continued to eat my delicious snacks. I went to sleep sticky and slightly nauseous, but happy.
Upon getting up the next morning and discovering the remnants of my whoopie pie feast, I felt sad. Sure, I was mildly ashamed of my gluttony, but mostly I just kept thinking about how awesome they were and how disappointed I was that they were gone. I mean, they were really, really good, and weirdly, I didn’t feel disgusted by whoopie pies as I had after my 21st birthday binge.
Luckily, there were several leftover gift bags hanging around at the farewell brunch, so I decided to investigate the whoopie pie situation. (My memories of them were very sweet, but not necessarily crystal clear.) After some research, I found that the three types of pies were chocolate with mocha frosting, blueberry with lemon buttercream, and vanilla with maple frosting. I appreciated this deviation from the standard chocolate with vanilla filling, and naturally, ideas for other creative whoopie pies began floating around in my head.
When I returned to NYC this week, I figured I would run with this sandwich cake inspiration. And while I debated several money flavor combos over the past few days, I eventually settled on Carrot Cake Whoopie Pies with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting.
I’m pleased to report that these whoopie pies are one of my greatest baking successes. They have all the spiced goodness of carrot cake, thanks to a generous amount of ground cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg, and the maple cream cheese filling is unreal. You’ll want to put this frosting on everything, friends, and you should. I’m talking pretzels, graham crackers, and pretty much any sort of pumpkin, carrot or apple baked goods. Get weird.
The cakes themselves actually have a texture that is somewhere between cookie and cake. They’re a little bit more dense than your average carrot cake, and not quite as sugary in order to balance the sweetness of the frosting. Most carrot cakes are fat and calorie bombs, as they involve large quantities of sugar, canola oil and butter in both the cake and the frosting, but not these bad boys. I significantly reduced the overall sugar in these pies, and used applesauce and coconut oil to keep things on the healthy side. Obviously, nothing moistens a cake quite like a stick of butter, so if you want to go the more decadent route, go for it. (I included the substitution quantity in the recipe below. You’re welcome.)
Please make these carrot cake whoopie pies ASAP. They’re cute, portable and perfect for your next fall extravaganza. You definitely want to be the person that shows up with the whoopie pies. Trust me.
Carrot Cake Whoopie Pies with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting: (Makes about 15 whoopie pies)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1½ teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
1¼ teaspoons ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon salt
¾ cup dark brown sugar, packed
¾ cup granulated sugar
2½ tablespoons coconut oil, melted
¼ cup plus 3 tablespoons applesauce
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups grated carrots
1 cup chopped walnuts, toasted (optional)
For the Maple Cream Cheese Frosting:
8 ounces cream cheese at room temperature
3 tablespoons good quality maple syrup
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
NOTE: If you want cakes that are more moist, and you don’t mind the added fat and cals, replace the apple sauce and coconut oil with ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter at room temperature. If you choose to do this, cream the butter and sugar together with a stand mixer or electric hand mixer. Then beat in the eggs and vanilla.
Preparing your Carrot Cake Whoopie Pies with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting:
-Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees. Position a rack in the center of the oven. Line two baking sheets with parchment or Silpats. (If you have a Silpat, use it. If you don’t, consider buying one. They are the tits.)
-Start by toasting your walnuts (if you’re using them). Heat a small pan over medium heat. (Do not put any oil in the pan!). When hot, add the walnuts and toast for about 2 minutes, shaking the pan regularly, until the nuts are lightly browned and fragrant. (They will literally smell like toast.) Remove from the pan and set aside until ready to use.
-Next, grate your peeled carrots on the large holes of a box grater.
-In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and salt.
-In a separate bowl, vigorously whisk the brown sugar, granulated sugar and eggs until they are pale yellow and fluffy. This should take about two minutes. Then whisk in the coconut oil, apple sauce and vanilla.
-Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients.
-Mix until just combined. Please don’t over-mix, people. It will make your whoopie pies dense.
-Fold the carrots and toasted walnuts into the batter. Cover and refrigerate for 45 minutes.
-Scoop the batter in 1-tablespoon quantities onto the prepared baking sheets about 2 inches apart. Use wet fingers to form the “cakes” into more even circles if you need to. Bake one sheet at a time for 10 minutes each. The cakes should spring back when you press them gently. Do NOT over-bake them. You want them to be golden and fluffy, not browned and dry. (I know from experience.)
-Remove your cakes from the oven and let them cool for 5 minutes before transferring them to a rack to cool completely. This should take about 10 minutes.
-While your cakes are baking/cooling, prepare your maple cream cheese frosting. Using a stand mixer or a hand-held electric mixer, beat together the cream cheese, confectioners’ sugar and maple syrup until it’s creamy and smooth. Refrigerate your frosting until ready to use.
-When your cakes are cool, spread a heaping tablespoon (or more, if you don’t mind slightly messy pies) onto the flat-side of one cake.
-Top it with another cake, flat-side down. Repeat with the remaining cakes and frosting.
-You can serve your whoopie pies at room temperature, but I like to chill them for an hour or so before eating. I dig a cool whoopie pie (it also firms up the icing), but you do you. If you’re storing these bad boys for later, make sure to keep them in an airtight container.
*Recipe adapted from Serious Eats.
I’m thrilled to be a part of Food Network’s Fall Fest this week. For more delicious carrot recipes, check out the awesome blogs below.
Feed Me Phoebe: Carrot Cake Pancakes
Napa Farmhouse 1885: Fresh Carrot, Banana and Peach Smoothie
Red or Green: Honey Glazed Roasted Carrots with Cayenne Pepper
And Love It Too: Carrot Cake Blondies with Cinnamon Coconut Butter
Virtually Homemade: Easy Carrot Torte
Made By Michelle: Carrot Apple Bread
In Jennie’s Kitchen: Carrot Persimmon Cake
Devour: Roasted Carrots with Cumin and Coriander
The Sensitive Epicure: Chimichurri Carrots
The Heritage Cook: Roasted Maple Dilled Carrots and Shallots
FN Dish: 10 New Ways to Devour Carrots
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