I have strong views on certain baking related topics, and thank goodness I have this blog now, because I can rant about them as much as I want.
So I have issues with the whole Red Velvet thing. This is mostly under the influence of my real-life friend Danielle, and my pretend friend Deb, and I have adopted these views as my own. Danielle made some Red Velvet Cupcakes a few years ago and was horrified at the amount of red food colouring you have to add, and annoyed because the batter makes a mess, and god forbid you get any dough on your clothes or kitchen towels, because you’ll never get the red out. These issues extend to the flavour. A lot of Red Velvet stuff you see now is just vanilla cake with a bottle of food colouring added. Kristine brought me a Red Velvet Cupcake mix from Sprinkles in LA, and I remember when eating them thinking that they were alright, but the cake itself just doesn’t really taste like anything. It’s not really chocolatey, but not vanilla, it’s just there. Meh.
However, all of my issues are rendered irrelevant, because no matter what I think, everyone luuuuurves Red Velvet Anything, as I’m sure Kristine will tell you in the Comments! Last month, my sister-in-law Debbie started going on and on about how one of her friend’s husband’s drove over the border to The Cheesecake Factory to bring back some Red Velvet Cheesecake for his wife’s birthday. Well, I was almost personally offended by how effusive she was. I tried to sway her over to the dark side, using my one remaining argument, which is that people really only like Red Velvet for the cream cheese frosting. She shut me down immediately. I surrendered, and knew her birthday treats would be Red Velvet Something.
Moving on to my issues with Whoopie Pies. These have only recently crossed my baking radar, as I’ve been seeing them on my blogs for a while. Of course, I’m always skeptical of any new trendy thing, and I did not see the fuss over these. Whoopie Pies are basically two cakey cookies sandwiched together with icing. So what? If I wanted cake, I would make cake. These seemed extra fussy, and not even that cute.
These two worlds collided when flipping through my increasingly dirty copy of Baked Explorations (I guess the sign of a good cookbook or bakebook is when the pages start sticking together or have gobs of dough stuck on the front). Red Velvet Whoopie Pies. It was on.
This is kind of a labour intensive treat, because you are essentially making cake batter, but then instead of pouring it into cake pans, sticking in the oven, and walking away for half an hour, you’ve got yourself into scooping, baking, rotating, cooling, transferring, icing, sandwiching. But guess what y’all? I’m in love.
Let me clarify. I am in love with the Whoopie Pie format, while Red Velvet I can take or leave. Here’s the thing: you know when you’re trying to eat a cupcake but it’s too big to cram all up in your grill? What I normally do is pop off the bottom and eat that (no fun), and then eat the top with all the delicious icing. BUT WHEN YOU EAT A WHOOPIE PIE THERE IS ICING IN EVERY BITE. Don’t ask me why that thought never crossed my mind before, but I’m all about it. Of course, nothing will ever take the place of a cupcake, and you can’t really decorate a Whoopie Pie, but there is room in my life for both.
Red Velvet Whoopie Pies
Source: Baked Explorations by Matt Lewis & Renato Poliafito
2 1/2 cups flour
3 tbsp cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup canola or vegetable oil
1/2 cup + 2 tbsp buttermilk
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature, cut into pieces
1 tbsp vegetable shortening, room temperature
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp red food colouring (recipe says gel, I used liquid)
3 cups icing sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature
8 oz (1 pkg) cream cheese, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
- Preheat the oven to 350, and line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
- In a medium bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
- In a small bowl, whisk together oil and buttermilk.
- In a large bowl, cream the butter and shortening together until smooth. Scrape down the bowl and add the sugars. Beat until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla extract and beat until combined. Scrape down the bowl, add the food colouring and mix to incorporate.
- On low speed, or by hand, add the flour mixture, alternating with the buttermilk mixture, in three separate additions, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.
- Cover with plastic wrap and chill for 15 minutes.
- Remove batter, and use a small ice cream scoop, or two spoons, to drop heaping tablespoons of dough onto prepared baking sheets, about 1″ apart. Bake for 10-20 minutes, until the cookies are just starting to crack on top and a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean. Note: I baked mine for 16 minutes, rotating the pans top to bottom, and back to front halfway through.
- Let cookies cool completely.
- For filling, dump everything into your food processor and mix until smooth and combined. Or, in a large bowl, beat the butter and cream cheese until smooth. Add the icing sugar, vanilla, and salt and beat until smooth.
- To assemble, use a spoon or ice cream scoop to dollop filling on the flat side of a cookie. Place another cookie on top, and smoosh down slightly so the filling comes to the edge. Put the whoopie pies in the fridge for about 30 minutes to firm up before serving.
- Whoopie pies will keep up to 3 days in the fridge.