Rachel Klemek, executive pastry chef-owner of Blackmarket Bakery in Costa Mesa, Santa Ana and San Diego, loves the whimsy of whoopie pies. She says the name connotes party-like fun. And the treat is a cake that is portable; it can be picked up and easily eaten out of hand.
Her pumpkin-spiked whoopie pies showcase flavors associated with the holidays; a rainbow of autumnal spices and a small dose of molasses bring palate memories of sweet indulgences centered around the festive time of year.
Watch her share the secrets to these cakes that sandwich irresistible cream cheese filling. She doesn’t chintz on the creamy filling; it’s added with generosity, piped from a plastic pastry bag to form a thick spiral.
Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with Cream Cheese Filling
Yield: about 10
2 1/2 cups pastry flour or all-purpose flour, see cook’s notes
3 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ginger
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
8 ounces butter (2 sticks), room temperature
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon molasses
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 large eggs (best if eggs aren’t super cold)
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
3 1/2 ounces buttermilk
12 ounces cream cheese (not whipped style or reduced fat), softened to room temperature
3/4 cup powdered sugar, sifted
4 ounces unsalted butter (1 stick), soft
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, or more to taste
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Cook’s notes: Chef Klemek used pastry flour, but said all-purpose could be used. Pastry flour contains 8.5 to 9.5 percent protein, which is low relative to all-purpose that is between 10 and 12 percent protein. Pastry flour produces a finer crumb. If you wish, use half all-purpose and half cake flour (7 to 8 percent protein), such as Swans Down that is sold at most supermarkets.
1. Adjust rack to middle position and preheat to 350 degrees. Line 2 large rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices and salt. Set aside.
2. In large bowl of electric mixer (using the paddle attachment) beat butter, sugar and molasses until blended and fluffy, thick and a pale color, about 3 minutes. Add vanilla and mix until just combined. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Beat until light and fluffy. Add pumpkin and mix just until blended.
3. Add 1/3 of dry ingredients to butter mixture and mix on low speed until barely combined. Stop mixer and pour in half of buttermilk. Mix again just enough to blend. Stop mixer and add another 1/3 of dry mixture; mix just until barely combined. Add remaining buttermilk; mix until just barely combined. Scrape down sides of bowl as needed. Add remaining dry ingredients; mix until just barely well combined. Take bowl off machine and gently fold with silicone spatula, making sure bottom of bowl is included and mixture is homogeneous. Scoop batter into mounds on prepared sheets (the easiest way is to use a 1/4-cup ice cream scoop). Bake immediately, about 10 to 14 minutes, or until skewer inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely.
4. Meanwhile, prepare filling: In large bowl of electric mixer using the paddle attachment, thoroughly beat cream cheese, scraping bowl as needed, until smooth. Add softened butter and mix on low speed, occasionally scraping the bowl as needed, until combined. Add sugar, cinnamon and vanilla and mix on low speed until combined.
5. Pipe generous amount of cream cheese filling on half of the whoopies (or use a small scoop)-on the flat side – and sandwich two together. Best served the same day.
Blackmarket Bakery has two Orange County locations: 2937 Bristol (The Camp), Costa Mesa (714-662-3095) and 211 N Broadway, Santa Ana (714-571-0801)
***** HERE’S QUICK TIP FROM MELISSA’S PRODUCE *****
I love this grownup version of fruit salad. I call it Fruit Salad Royale.
It’s perfect for a buffet table, brunch or picnic basket.
Vary the fruit according to the season and enjoy!
Guests that have lukewarm attitudes about fruit salad may find themselves coming back for more.
Fruit Salad Royale
Yield: 8 servings
1 1/2 cup peeled, sliced kiwi, about 5 medium
2 cups hulled and quartered strawberries
2 cups green or red seedless grapes
2 cups pitted, sliced plums, plumcots or peaches
1 cup peeled orange segments or tangerine segments
1/4 cup orange liqueur
3 tablespoons freshly-squeezed orange juice
1 tablespoon agave syrup or sugar
1. Place all ingredients in glass or ceramic bowl; gently toss with rubber spatulas. Cover and chill up to 4 hours.
Nutritional information (per serving):
Source: “Melissa’s Everyday Cooking with Organic Produce” by Cathy Thomas