Saturday, June 29, 2013

Red, White, and Blue Velvet Whoopie Pies


It's that time of year again!  Can you believe we're already only a few days from the Fourth of July?  It's pretty crazy, but what's even crazier is that we're also officially less than 6 months away from Christmas.  Yes, I am perfectly aware that that's a very random thought, but I figured I would share it anyway, only because I mentioned it to my mom a day or two ago, and she definitely could not believe that time had flown by as fast as it had.  I still have trouble believing it at times!  In any case though, even though winter and Christmas and cold weather dishes like spiced gingerbread cookies and hot chocolate are some of my favorite things, I'm not going to think about them right now or let them get to me.  It's summertime, and we need to embrace it!  What better way to embrace summer than by celebrating the defining summer holiday that is the Fourth of July.  I personally love the holiday, as barbecues and fireworks are totally my thing, because any holiday that gives me the an opportunity to eat an absurd amount of hot dogs and hamburgers is my kind of celebration.  As much as I miss living in New York City (and believe me, I really, really, really do), being on Long Island for Independence Day is the definitely best.  I can't imagine not being able to have a barbecue in my own backyard, and being only a ten minute drive from the beach and the boardwalk, and only having to walk around the block (literally) to see a really awesome fireworks show just makes the holiday on Long Island even more perfect.  I guess living in suburbia isn't always that bad!


I'm usually not a fan of dying foods into crazy colors, because bright, unnatural coloring is usually a big turnoff for me, but when the Fourth of July rolls around, turning white things into red and blue things is always inevitable.  I mean, I love using blueberries and raspberries just as much as any other foodie out there, but sometimes I just want something really sweet and cakey and well...fruitless.  Enter these red, white, and blue velvet whoopie pies. There's definitely no fruit in these little cookies (cakes? pies? who knows...)!




This was actually my very first time making and eating real whoopie pies.  I had made the cookie part of a whoopie pie once before, for these blueberry-mint ice cream sandwiches (JEEZ that post feels like it was from such a long time ago), but aside from that, my whoopie pie-knowledge was absolutely zero.  I figured, though, that whoopie pies would be the perfect dessert for Fourth of July celebrations because they're a real, old-fashioned American dessert, and if they were in a red velvet and cream cheese frosting combination, they just couldn't get any more American than that...until you make one of the two cookies blue, and you end up with red, white, and blue velvet whoopie pies.  My friends, I don't think it you can get any more patriotic than that.


This recipe for red, white, and blue velvet whoopie pies would be perfect for any sort of Fourth of July gathering.  They're super simple to bake, and they only require a few minutes in the oven, which is nice now that the weather is getting so hot!  I know that I tend to try to avoid turning on the oven for prolonged periods of time during these hot summer months, but every now and then, I do need a cookie/pie/cake fix, so the fact that these whoopie pies took less than ten minutes to bake was just perfect.  Even more perfect was how great they tasted.  The cookie portion of the whoopie pies was perfectly cakey and puffy and fluffy and yummy, and because it was only lightly sweetened, it complemented the sweet and slightly tangy cream cheese frosting very nicely.  Another great thing about whoopie pies is that they can (and should, in my opinion at least,) be made in advance.  Since the whoopie pie filling is a cream cheese frosting, the pies should be kept in the refrigerator until ready to serve, and be taken out of the fridge about ten minutes before eating them.  I had one whoopie pie the day I made them, and another a few days after, and they were still perfectly delicious.  Simply store them in an airtight container, and if you need to stack them on top of each other, separate them with a sheet of wax paper so the whoopie pies don't stick to each other. 


Easy to make and perfectly patriotic in every way, these red, white, and blue velvet whoopie pies are a must for any Fourth of July celebration.  Enjoy!

Red, White, and Blue Velvet Whoopie Pies
recipe from The Novice Chef

Ingredients

For the Whoopie Pies

2 cups all purpose flour
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup buttermilk, shaken
red and blue food coloring (I used Wilton gel colors)

For the Cream Cheese Frosting

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone liners, and set aside. 

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt.  Set aside.  

In the bowl of a standard electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until light and fluffy, about three minutes.  Add the brown sugar, beating until light and fluffy.  Beat in the egg and the vanilla extract.  Add the flour mixture, alternating with the buttermilk, ending with the flour mixture, making sure to beat after each addition (I just did 1/2 of the flour mixture, followed by all of the buttermilk, and then the remaining half of the flour mixture).  Beat only until just combined.

Evenly divide the cookie batter into two bowls.  Add red food coloring to one bowl, and blue food coloring to the other bowl.  Mix the food coloring into the cookie batter until it is evenly mixed and the cookie batter reaches the desired shade of color.  


Spoon the cookie batter out onto the prepared baking sheets in 1-inch rounds, leaving about 1 inch of space between each round.  With a slightly damp hand, lightly press on each cookie round to flatten it out slightly.  Bake the cookies for 7-9 minutes, or just until the tops are set.  Allow the cookies to cool completely on the baking sheets set on a wire rack.  


While the cookies are baking and cooling, prepare the cream cheese frosting. In the bowl of a standard electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes.  Add the powdered sugar and the vanilla extract, and beat on high speed (start on low speed first and then increase the speed, otherwise you'll have a mess of sugar all over your kitchen!) until the frosting comes together and is completely smooth.  

To assemble the whoopie pies, simply spread a little cream cheese frosting onto the bottom side of a cookie, and top it with a cookie of the opposite color.  I decided to pipe the frosting onto the cookies with a large open star tip, but spreading the frosting on is totally fine as well.  If the cream cheese frosting seems a bit too runny to spread, simply let it sit in the fridge for a few minutes to firm up.  Once all the whoopie pies have been assembled, store them in the fridge until ready to serve, and allow them to sit at room temperature for a few minutes before eating.  Enjoy!


Makes 12-16 whoopie pies, depending on how big you shape them

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