Friday, March 01, 2013


I had big plans for all kinds of wild cooking experiments to perform while I was unemployed, but then I only ended up being out of work for two weeks. (Yay, but also, sigh.) Making ricotta and crafting my own flour tortillas will have to wait, but I did manage to get together with my (also unemployed) friend S to bake some whoopie pies. I’ve always been a huge fan of sandwich cookies (probably more so than I’m a fan of actual sandwiches), but having to make a cookie and a filling always seems like too much of a pain for me to try at home. With a second pair of hands and a free afternoon, however, it was the perfect kitchen adventure.

We settled on whoopie pies fairly quickly (it helped that I’d received a mini whoopie pie pan for Christmas and was itching to try it out), but when it came time to choose which kind to make, I instantly became overwhelmed by all the available options. S suggested this chocolate Biscoff recipe from Gimme Some Oven, and since I hadn’t gotten around to trying Biscoff yet, I figured why not kill two tasty birds with one stone? (For those who don’t know, in the food blog world, Biscoff is the new Nutella. It’s a Belgian spread made from ground cookies called speculoos, which are gently spiced buttery biscuits.)

To maximize the adventure, we also started toying with the idea of making a second variety of whoopie pie. I was taken with these banana caramel ones from Annie’s Eats, but making another type of cookie, another type of filling, and a caramel to go into the filling sounded too crazily ambitious an undertaking. Then I mused that banana cookies would probably taste pretty great with Biscoff filling, and a plan was hatched: Make a double recipe of the filling and then both types of cookies. That way, we could get a little variety but keep our process manageably streamlined.

Our decision was even more spot-on than we could have suspected, because that Biscoff cream cheese filling is seriously one of the most delicious things I’ve ever made. I can’t even explain it, because I’ve tasted Biscoff cookies and haven’t really been into them (they’re sort of a lighter gingersnap). I tasted a bit of the spread when we cracked the jar open and liked it better; it tasted vaguely like graham crackers. But mixed with cream cheese (which I normally don’t even enjoy that much), sugar, and a bit of vanilla, it became transcendent. Something about the tart cream cheese balanced out the sweet, nutty cookie perfectly. I could happily eat it straight—and I did, to clean out the bowl—but it was dynamite with the cookies. The chocolate cookies were the best overall, tender and not too sugary, but the flavor overshadowed the filling somewhat (after tasting one, we went back and added more filling to the rest, since we had some extra); it was in the banana version that the Biscoff flavor really shone. I’d make either kind again in a heartbeat. They weren’t even as difficult to put together as I’d expected, although ours definitely turned out a bit “rustic” in shape. Really, the only problem is that I can’t stop eating them! Not only is the flavor great, but the texture of the big, soft, fluffy cookies with a layer of frosting in the middle is also wonderful—like portable, handheld cake. I’ll reserve them for special treats, but I’ll certainly make them again…even though my next bout of unemployment will hopefully be far in the future.

Chocolate Biscoff Whoopie Pies

1⅔ cups all-purpose flour
⅔ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1½ teaspoons baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup milk

8 ounces cream cheese, softened
½ cup Biscoff spread (aka speculoos cookie butter)
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup powdered sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicon mats.
  2. In a medium bowl, sift together, flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt.
  3. In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar with a mixer on low until just combined. Increase speed to medium and beat for about 2 minutes. Add egg and vanilla and beat for two more minutes. Add half of the flour mixture and half of the milk and beat on low until incorporated. Repeat with remaining flour and milk and beat until combined.
  4. Drop batter on baking sheet in tablespoon-sized clumps, each about two inches apart. Bake for 10 minutes, or until cookies spring back when pressed gently. Remove from oven and cool for about five minutes before transferring them to a rack to cool completely.
  5. Meanwhile, make the filling: Using an electric mixer, cream together cream cheese and Biscoff spread on medium speed until combined. Add vanilla and powdered sugar, and mix on low speed until sugar is incorporated. Stop mixer, and use a spatula to scrape the sides of the bowl. Increase speed to medium and mix for 1 more minute until well combined.
  6. Once cookies are cooled, match them into pairs by size/shape. Spoon or pipe the filling onto the flat side of one cookie in the pair, and then top with the other cookie to make a whoopie pie. Repeat with remaining filling and cookies.
Yields: 24-36 whoopie pies
Time:  1½ hours
Leftover potential: Good. I didn't try freezing them because I thought they would get too hard and I knew we wouldn't need to store them for very long because they were getting eaten so quickly, but they were a bit sticky at room temperature, so I kept them in the fridge, which worked well.

Variation: Banana Biscoff Whoopie Pies

2 cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup mashed banana (about 1–2 bananas)
½ cup sour cream
½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup light brown sugar
1 large egg
½ tsp. vanilla extract
1 batch Biscoff filling (see above)
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line baking sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt; whisk to blend, and set aside.
  3. In a small bowl, combine the mashed banana and sour cream.
  4. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugars on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Blend in the egg and vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, add in the dry ingredients in three additions alternating with the banana mixture, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Mix each addition just until incorporated.
  5. Drop batter onto prepared baking sheets in tablespoon-sized clumps, spacing a couple of inches apart. Bake until the cookies are just set and the bottom edges are starting to brown, about 10 to 12 minutes. Let cool on the baking sheets for 5 to 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
  6. Once the cookies are completely cooled, match them up in pairs by size. Spoon or pipe filling onto the flat side of one cookie of each pair, and sandwich the cookies together, pushing the filling to the edges. Store in an airtight container.

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