Friday, December 2, 2016

Pecan Pumpkin Gingerbread Whoopie Pies

     My goal for November was to underwhelm my schedule. The next thing you know, I was swamped with volunteer church commitments, pre-holiday organizing projects, and the death of a beloved family pet which merited a period of mourning. Then the invitations for parent meetings and volunteer opportunities at the school began rolling in and you can see how well my plans to clear my schedule worked out. I just wish schools would tell us in September how much they will need us in December. 

   It all reminded me of the time we had our garden shed delivered, and I asked the owner of Most Excellent Dutch Market Shed Broker about the chicken coop that was also on the trailer. Was it for someone local? 
   "No, we're bringing it in for inventory. It could be yours. I noticed you have some nice grass growing back there," and he gestured toward a thin patch of wilted blades of green that gives the appearance of some nice grass if you are extremely charitable. No thank you, I explained. When you start doing chickens, you end up with too many eggs and have to hang  a sign out front to sell them. You would probably want me to buy the sign from you too. Then if they don't sell you have to stop what you're doing and make noodles. That's on top of caring for the chickens, and you know whose job that would be, right? No, I've already got too much going on. 

   It's a lot like when you clean out that closet or cabinet, and you have so much extra space. I keep hearing that the universe is expanding, but that never shows up in my kitchen cabinets. Within a few months, an empty space is filled again. We fill the space we have and the time we have. As long as our hearts keep growing, I guess it's okay. 

   That reminds me, I was cleaning out an old box of mementos and found this relic from my childhood under some stacks of old greeting cards. Who remembers her name?




I can't wait to bake some new things this month and share them with friends and family. I like baking most of the year, but Christmas baking is extra special. This whoopie pie recipe was adapted from one I found a year ago, and I revised it to make it more busy-mom friendly, with easy ingredients and a brown sugar-cream cheese filling I made up myself. 

I told The Mister that these may be the best whoopie pies I ever made.
"Well, I would have to think about that."

No, these really are the best. 



Makes 20 small or 10 large pies. 

Cakes:

2 and 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
3 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. ground allspice
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 cups packed dark brown sugar
3 Tablespoons molasses or sorghum
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Zest of 1 orange
2 eggs
15 oz. can pumpkin

Filling:
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 tsp. vanilla
2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar

1 cup toasted, chopped pecans

Heat the oven to 350. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. 

In a bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Using a whisk, stir in the cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and allspice. 

In a mixing bowl, beat together butter, oil, brown sugar, molasses, and vanilla. Add the zest and eggs and combine. beat in the pumpkin puree. Stir in the flour mixture. 

Drop the dough in mounds onto the baking sheets, leaving several inches to allow for spreading. Depending on your desired size, you should have 20-40 cakes. Bake for 15-20 minutes and allow to fully cool before filling.

To make the filling, beat together the cream cheese, butter, vanilla, and sugars. Beat on medium-high until filling is fully blended and creamy. Drop a large spoonful onto the flat side of one cake and press the flat side of another cake on top. 

Place the pecans on a small tray or plate, then roll the edge of each whoopie pie in the pecans to coat. 

Refrigerate in an airtight container. If you need to stack them, be sure to separate the layers with wax paper. 

Sorry. Couldn't wait. 


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