But the last two years have been a little bit of a dry spell for me in the cookie making department. Last year, I had just had foot surgery 1 month prior to Christmas and had a hard time hobbling along in the kitchen on one foot and crutches. We also lived in a TINY apartment with a poor excuse for a kitchen for the small amount of time between when our old house sold and we were building our new house. So, Christmas of 2009 was cookie-less. Christmas 2010 rolled around and I never seemed to have the time make cookies. I'm not sure if having a new child threw my cookie making schedule a curve ball but it just seemed it wasn't going to happen this year.
Finally, on December 23rd, I got the Christmas treat bug and jumped to action. I decided I would make one batch of cookies and would try to make them healthier. I had saved a link to the Swanky Pear's Pumpkin Whoopie Pies a few months back and thought I could still bake with pumpkin in December. So that was the start (and end) of my Christmas cookie baking this year.
These cookies have almost a cake like consistency and therefore, could handle a few changes in them. First, I substituted unsweetened applesauce for the oil. (Obviously I canned a lot of applesauce this fall!). Next for the filling I used fat-free cream cheese instead of full fat cream cheese. I also used 1/4 cup butter, instead of 1/2 cup butter (actually by accident as I read it as half a stick but really it was supposed to be a full stick). But, either way, it turned out delicious!
Pumpkin Whoopie Pies - BETTER
3 cups flour
2 Tbsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp allspice
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
3 cups chilled pure pumpkin puree
1 tsp vanilla
3 cups powdered sugar
8 oz. fat free cream cheese
4 Tbsp (1/2 stick) butter
1 tsp vanilla
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ginger, all-spice and nutmeg. Set aside.
3. In a separate bowl, whisk the granulated sugar, the dark brown sugar, and the unsweetened applesauce together. Add the CHILLED pumpkin puree and whisk to combine thoroughly. Add the eggs and vanilla and whisk until combined.
4. Gradually add the flour mixture to the pumpkin mixture and whisk until completely combined.
5. Use a small cookie scoop or a large spoon to drop a rounded, heaping tablespoon of the dough onto the prepared baking sheets, about 1 inch apart. I also kept the bowl of batter in the freezer between batches to keep it chilled. The batter is quite thin and works better a little chilled.
6. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, making sure that the cookies are just starting to crack on top and a toothpick inserted into the center of a cookie comes out clean. The cookies should be firm when touched. Remove from the oven and let the cookies cool completely on a cooling rack.
7. To make the filling, beat the butter on medium speed until smooth with no visible lumps, about 3 minutes. Add the cream cheese and beat until smooth and combined, about 2 minutes. Add the powdered sugar a little at a time, then add the vanilla and beat until smooth.
8. To assemble the whoopie pies: Turn half of the cooled cookies upside down. Pipe the filling (about a tablespoon) onto that half (I used a ziplock bag with the corner clipped, made quick work!). Place another cookie, flat side down, on top of the filling. Press down slightly so that the filling spread to the edges of the cookie. Repeat until all the cookies are used. Put the whoopie pies in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes to firm before serving. These also freeze well for later.
I made 52 sandwiches in my batch.