Pumpkin whoopie pies

Whoopie pies have taken the world by storm recently, and have even been hailed as the “new cupcake”. Who would have thought that two round pieces of cake (sandwiched with a creamy filling) could become so popular?

According to folklore, Amish women used to bake these for their husbands and put them in their lunchboxes. When the men opened their lunchboxes after a hard morning in the fields, they would shout “whoopie!”. And thus the whoopie pie was born. Of course, there is no proof that this is how they got their name, but it’s a fun story, and I’m more than happy to go along with it!

I’ve been seeing a lot of pumpkin puree around recently, and so thought it would be fun to incorporate some pumpkin into some whoopie pies. It was quite interesting as I had never actually used pumpkin puree before, nor had I ever made whoopie pies. Oh, and I’d only ever eaten one whoopie pie from Hummingbird Bakery. Thinking back, I must say I didn’t really have much idea of what I was aiming to achieve, both taste and texture wise. But that’s the fun thing about cooking, no? The experimenting. Or sometimes, the disasters…

Shaping these whoopie pies were actually much harder than I expected. I don’t have a cookie scoop, so had to use two spoons to form them into the two domed halves. For my first batch, I didn’t smooth them out, hoping they’d even out as they baked. I can now tell you that they didn’t (not sure if this is true of all whoopie pie recipes, or just this one?). So I ended up spending a fair amount of time trying to make sure the rest of my whoopie halves were smoother and more respectable… I also ended up with rather unevenly sized halves, as I didn’t measure how much batter I used each time. Basically, I was lazy.
Having said that, the final product actually tasted pretty good. Instead of using the more “traditional” cream cheese filling, I decided to go for a dark chocolate one. And you know what, I’m glad I did. The bittersweet chocolate ganache/filling complemented the pumpkin perfectly, and I daresay I would not have enjoyed them as much had it been a cream cheese filling. (Thank you R for the suggestion!)
I also made some “mini” cupcakes with some of the batter. Mainly because I’d just bought a new silicone cupcake tray, and felt the overwhelming urge to use it. I didn’t fill the holes till the top, as I was hoping to get a effect of a paper lined cupcake (if you know what I mean). They didn’t turn out all that well (as you can see), but I’m definitely going to try to achieve that effect the next time I use the tray! Another thing that bugged me were the air bubbles in the batter, which caused little “holes” in the final product. I think I’ll try tweaking the recipe to make it more liquid next time around…  And yes, the frosting on the top does look a bit like a lump of poo – so I dusted them with icing sugar in an attempt to make them look less so. 😛

If you have any good whoopie pie recipes, do let me know as I’d love to try making them again!!

Pumpkin chocolate whoopie pies
Adapted from this recipe on Steamy Kitchen

For the whoopie pies:

  • 3 cups plain flour
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon  baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 250g butter, softened
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 can (425g) solid pack pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean extract

For the chocolate ganache frosting:

  • 200g dark chocolate (I use Green & Blacks 72% cook’s chocolate)
  • 200g double cream
  • 20g butter

1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Line baking trays with parchment paper, and set aside.

2. In a large bowl, combine flour, spice blends, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Mix well.

3. In a mixer, beat butter and brown sugar (on medium-high speed) until it becomes thick and creamy.

4. Add the pumpkin puree, and beat until just combined.

5. Add eggs and vanilla, and beat until light and fluffy. (Mixture will be thin, like a muffin batter.)

6. Gradually add flour mixture (I added it in three batches), and beat until well combined.

7. Using a large cookie scoop (about 2 inches diameter), scoop batter onto prepared trays, and slightly flatten the whoopie pie halves with the back of your scoop. Leave them approximately 5cm apart. (If you don’t own a cookie scoop, do what I did and use two spoons).

8. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until whoopie pie halves spring back when lightly pressed.

9. Cool the whoopie pie halves. Whilst waiting for them to cool, prepare the chocolate ganache filling.

10. Heat the double cream in a pan over medium heat, until it feels hot to touch.

11. Place the broken up chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl. Pour the heated cream over the chocolate and butter, and stir until all the chocolate/butter is melted. It should form a thick and shiny frosting.

12. To assemble the whoopie pies: Pipe or spoon the chocolate ganache filling (about a tablespoon) onto that half. Place another half, flat side down, on top of the filling. Press down slightly so that the filling spreads to the edges of the whoopie pie. Repeat until all the halves are used.

 

Fig mochi cupcakes

I have a confession. I have a weakness for anything made from glutinous rice flour. Be it tang yuan (glutinous rice balls), muar chee (a Malaysian snack), mochi (a Japanese snack/wagashi), or mochi bread – I love it all. There’s just something about the chewy goodness of glutinous rice flour that makes it so irresistible, to me at least.

It is this weakness for glutinous rice flour that led me to be intrigued the moment I saw Y’s post on mochi cupcakes. Cake + mochi in one? Could it work? Well, there was only one way to find out: to try it out for myself. And I can very categorically say that yes, cake + mochi work exceptionally well together.

It’s hard to find the right words to describe the texture of these babies, and the best I can do is to say they are “chewy but not overly heavy/cloying”. Those of you who have eaten food made from glutinous rice flour will probably understand what I’m getting at, but I’m betting that the rest of you will have no idea what on earth I’m going on about. Maybe one of my readers can help me out here?

But as I was saying, mochi cupcakes are yum. What I also like about them are the endless number of variations one can have – flavours I’ve made so far are matcha (green tea), blueberry, cherry and most recently these fig ones. Plus they’re gluten free! I have plans to make chocolate or peanut butter ones in the near future, so stay posted for that.

I’m sending these fig mochi cupcakes over to the lovely Deeba of Passionate About Baking. She’s a fantastic baker who manages to churn out all sorts of delicious baked goods even in the sweltering Indian heat, and is hosting this month’s Monthly Mingle which is themed “Fruit in Baking”. I’ve never actually taken part in any blog events, but I guess there has to be a first for everything!

On another note, don’t forget to check out my Hotel Chocolat GIVEAWAY! 🙂

Fig mochi cupcakes
Adapted from this recipe on Lemonpi
Makes approximately 12 cupcakes

  • 225g glutinous rice flour
  • 80g unsalted butter, melted
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 187g evaporated milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon mixed spice
  • 3 figs, cut into 1-2cm slices
  • demerara sugar, for sprinkling (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 175’C.
2. Line a 12 hole muffin pan with muffin cases, and set aside.
3. Sift the glutinous rice flour, baking powder, ground cinnamon and mixed spice.
4. Whisk eggs and sugar until light and fluffy (I use a stand mixer, but you could just as easily use a handheld electric mixer).
5. Fold in the melted butter into the egg/sugar mixture, followed by the evaporated milk and vanilla bean paste.
6. Fold in the sifted dry ingredients in two batches.
7. Pour the cupcake mixture into the prepared muffin cases (make sure to only fill it to about 3/4 full, or it may overflow). Place a fig slice in each muffin case, and sprinkle with demerara sugar.
8. Bake for 20 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the middle of a cupcake comes out clean.

Raspberry buttermilk cupcakes

So. Remember that photo of the cupcakes I posted right before I went off on holiday? (Actually you probably don’t, simply because it’s been ages since…) Anyway, I’ve decided that it’s high time I blog about them, and take one thing off my seriously worrying list of backlogs. I mean, I have things dating back to January that are still in the ‘someday’ pile. Eeep.

But enough about that, and on to the cupcakes. As I’ve mentioned previously, I *love* Bill Granger. His recipes are simple, he provided me with my favourite pancake recipe and seems like a genuinely nice person (on his show anyway). What more could you want? He is also by far, one of the smiley-est chefs I’ve seen on tv – in fact he smiles so much that sometimes I struggle to wonder what he would look like without a huge grin on his face. I currently own three of his cookbooks, and I love all of them. The gorgeous photos help, of course (one to each recipe, the way I like it!). Every recipe I’ve used from his books has worked well, with the added bonus of them being really easy to whip up from ingredients you’ll tend to find in your fridge/storecupboard.

I was intrigued by this recipe for a buttermilk cake with a raspberry syrup the moment I saw it. I like using buttermilk when baking, as I find it makes the cakes/bread/cupcakes very soft and moist. The best thing about it is that you can easily make your own buttermilk at home – just add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar to 1 cup of milk, and let it sit for 10 minutes. Voila, you have buttermilk!

I tweaked the recipe slightly, as I preferred the raspberries in the cake as opposed to only being in the sauce. I also made them into cupcakes because… they’re cuter. Plus it gave me a chance to experiment with a sugar icing topping, something I’ve been wanting to do for a while. However, I did find that many of the raspberries burst during the baking process, which meant my cupcakes were slightly ‘wetter’ and denser than I would like. Maybe that’s why the recipe calls for a raspberry syrup… hmmm. And perhaps I should learn how to follow recipes properly. But no matter, because despite my issues with it’s ‘wetness’, I still enjoyed the cupcakes – a lot.

Raspberry buttermilk cupcakes
Adapted from a Bill Granger recipe in Bill’s Food

For the cupcakes:

  • 125g butter, softened
  • 180g caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 250ml buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 250g plain flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 200g raspberries
  • pinch of salt

For the sugar icing:

  • 60g icing sugar, sifted
  • 2-3 tablespoons hot water
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • raspberries (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
2. In a large mixing bowl, cream the softened butter and sugar until it becomes pale and fluffy. I use my trusty Kitchen Aid (on high speed), but this will work just as well with handheld electric beaters.
3. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well in between the addition of each egg.
4. Turn the mixer down to low speed, and beat in the buttermilk and vanilla extract until just combined.
5. Sift in the flour, baking powder and salt into the mixing bowl in two batches, mixing well (either with a spatula or with your mixer on low speed) in between each addition.
6. Lastly, carefully add the raspberries into the batter – they’re quite fragile so take care to not ‘burst’ all of them, or you’ll end up with a red batter!
7. Spoon the mixture into a greased muffin tray/muffin cases.
8. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean/and the cupcakes are golden. Leave to cool.
9. Whilst the cupcakes are cooling, make the topping. Mix the sugar, hot water and vanilla extract in a bowl until it forms a smooth mixture.
10. Once the cupcakes have cooled, pour the sugar icing over each cupcake. Do not pour too much on as it will envelope the whole cupcake in icing, and it won’t look as nice.
11. Top with raspberries (if you like), and serve.

An explanation (sort of)

I’ve been ignoring the blog for far too long, and I apologize for this. Work has been really busy, but thankfully the busy period has now passed. Blog posting will have to be put on hold for a few more days though, as I’m off to Italy for a short break. 🙂

I can’t bring myself to not post a photo of food though, so here’s a photo of some raspberry cupcakes I made a few weeks ago. They turned out quite well, and I will definitely be blogging about them after I get back from my holiday.

I promise to come back with lots of photos of Italy!

(Not so) red velvet cupcakes

Cupcakes have taken the world by storm, and a flavour that’s right on top of that list is the red velvet cupcake. I remember seeing it on many American food blogs, and being very intrigued by the bright colour. Now, I’m normally not a fan of food colourings, but for some reason red velvet cupcakes are on my list of exceptions. 😛

I made these cupcakes because I had some leftover chocolate frosting from a birthday cake I baked. I won’t write an individual post about the cake as I have no good photos of it (as I only finished decorating it an hour or so before leaving for dinner, and it had to sit in the fridge to set, and then I had to get dressed…. you get the picture), but I must mention the recipe as it was simple yet very good. I used this yellow cake recipe from Smitten Kitchen, and really liked it. Do remember to use cake flour though, you can add corn flour to plain flour to achieve this.

A quick (and bad) photo of the cake, right before wrapping it up in the foil (which was how I transported it to the restaurant).

Red velvet cupcakes are normally paired with a cream cheese frosting, but I’ve always enjoyed experimenting with flavours…. so I decided to try this to use up the leftover frosting as I’ve never made red velvet cupcakes/cakes before. I have to admit that my red velvet cupcakes looked more like brown velvet cupcakes, as I didn’t use much red food colouring (and what I did use I suspect was expired…), but it still tasted divine though! Just a little less attractive to look at. Just a note – the Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook suggests using Dr Oetker’s “red” food colouring, and not “natural red” or “scarlett” as the latter two makes the cake come out brown.

Red velvet cupcakes
from the Hummingbird Bakery cookbook

(I know the recipe seems ridiculously complicated as there are so many steps, but it’s actually much simpler than it looks)

  • 60 g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 150 g caster sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 10 g cocoa powder
  • 20 ml red food colouring (preferably Dr. Oetker Red Food Colouring)
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 120 ml buttermilk
  • 150 g plain flour
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 11⁄2 teaspoons white wine vinegar

1. Preheat the oven to 170°C.

2. Put the butter and the sugar in a stand mixer with a paddle attachment (or use a handheld electric whisk) and beat on medium speed until light and fluffy and well mixed.

3. Turn the mixer up to high speed, slowly add the egg and beat until everything is well incorporated.

4. In a separate bowl, mix together the cocoa powder, red food colouring and vanilla extract to make a thick, dark paste.

5. Add the food colouring mixture to the butter mixture and mix thoroughly until evenly combined and coloured (scrape any unmixed ingredients from the side of the bowl with a rubber spatula).

6. Turn the mixer down to slow speed and slowly pour in half the buttermilk. Beat until well mixed, then add half the flour, and beat until everything is well incorporated. Repeat this process until all the buttermilk and flour have been added.

7. Scrape down the side of the bowl again.

8. Turn the mixer up to high speed and beat until you have a smooth, even mixture.

9. Turn the mixer down to low speed and add the salt, bicarbonate of soda and vinegar. Beat until well mixed, then turn up the speed again and beat for a couple more minutes.

10. Spoon the mixture into the paper cases until two-thirds full and bake in the preheated oven for 20–25 minutes, or until the sponge bounces back when touched. A skewer inserted in the centre should come out clean.

11. Leave the cupcakes to cool slightly in the tray before turning out onto a wire cooling rack to cool completely.

12. When the cupcakes are cold, spoon or pipe the frosting onto the cupcakes. I topped the chocolate frosting with chocolate shavings (more leftovers from the cake), and the peanut butter ones with crushed amaretti biscuits (as I didn’t have any peanuts to hand).

 

Chocolate frosting
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen, who adapted it from The Dessert Bible
Makes 5 cups of frosting (to frost and fill a two layer 8-9 inch cake) – I think you’d probably need 1/3 of this amount for these cupcakes

  • 15 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped (I use Green & Black’s)
  • 3-4 teaspoons mixed berry jam (I use Bonne Maman)
  • 2 1/4 cups sour cream, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup icing sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Put chocolate in a heatproof bowl over simmering water, and stir until chocolate is melted. Remove from the heat and let chocolate cool. (Alternatively, you can melt the chocolate in the microwave for 30 seconds, stirring well, and then heating in 15 second increments, stirring between each until the chocolate is melted.) – I prefer the double boiler method as I find it’s easier to accidentally burn your chocolate when using a microwave. Maybe it’s just me though.

2. Whisk the sour cream, icing sugar and vanilla extract until combined. (I used the paddle attachment on my stand mixer.)

3. Add the cooled chocolate slowly, and mix on medium speed (or with a spatula) until mixture is uniform.

4. Let the frosting cool in the refrigerator until it is of a spreadable consistency. This should not take more than 30 minutes. Should the frosting become too thick or stiff, just leave it out until it softens again.

 

Peanut butter frosting

  • 1 cup peanut butter (either crunchy or creamy, depending on what you prefer)
  • 1 cup light cream cheese
  • 1/4-1/2 cup icing sugar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice

1. Mix peanut butter and cream cheese in a stand mixer fitted with the balloon whisk, until well combined. Alternatively, mix with a hand held mixer.

2. Add icing sugar to the mixture, and mix. Feel free to add in more icing sugar if you prefer a sweeter frosting.

3. Lastly, add the lemon juice and whisk/mix the frosting for about 1 minute.

4. The frosting should then be ready to use, but if it does get too runny, place it in the fridge to let it thicken.

(Please note that you won’t be able to pipe the frosting if you use crunchy peanut butter due to the nut pieces which get stuck in the nozzle – which is what I learnt when I tried to pipe it!)