Sunday, February 12, 2012

Red Velvet Whoopie Pies!

This weekend, my happy little two-year-old went from being an active and mischievous toddler to a cranky, lethargic, and extremely unhappy grump, who refused even the slightest offering or suggestion of food or drink. On Friday, he was perfectly healthy and hopping about from activity to activity per his usual. However, on Saturday morning he awoke with red, bloodshot eyes, an extremely runny nose, and a perturbing cough. Not to mention a 102 degree fever.

Before the illness...

In the full swing of the illness...

See how the light has disappeared from his little eyes? He woke up clutching his monkey and would not let it go. Poor little dude.

Paul and I attempted to feed and distract him from his misery, but he appeared more insulted than anything at our pathetic attempts to cheer him up. There was only one thing left to do...put him to bed. In the BIG bed.

He enjoyed this very much and took a very, very long nap. Just him and his blocks.

While my baby slept, Paul and I made some Red Velvet Whoopie Pies for Valentine's Day. I have an appointment with a Physical Therapist tomorrow afternoon and some dear friends of ours have agreed to watch Matthew for me while I am at the appointment. What better way to say "thank you" then with some delicious whoopie pies?

I have made whoopie pies before. There is a pumpkin version with a maple cream cheese filling that I am particularly fond of - and this recipe turned out to be a much easier version than my pumpkin one. In less than an hour, we had 30 perfectly cute little cake sandwiches spread about our counter-top (can you say dangerous?).

The sick child arose shortly after we put the finishing touches on these. Since we had been unable to feed him all day long, Paul and I had formulated a plan to trick him into eating dinner. Matthew's favorite food in the whole world is probably pizza. He has been known to eat 2-3 large pieces of pizza for dinner (crusts and all!). So, in order to try to cheer him up, we made a very small batch of pizza dough and topped it with cheese and pepperoni (his favorite!) and popped it in the oven just for him.

He was delighted to see it, hot and fresh out of the oven! He ate two pieces with relish! Maybe this means he is feeling better?

Let's hope.

As for the whoopie pies? He ate a couple of those too.

Red Velvet Whoopie Pies
Cake recipe adapted from Better Homes & Garden, filling recipe from Brown Eyed Baker

For the cake:
2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons butter, softened
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup buttermilk
Red food coloring

For the filling:
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
4 tablespoons butter, softened
3-3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt.

In large mixing bowl, beat butter on medium-high speed for 30 seconds, until smooth. Add brown sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. With mixer at medium speed, add egg and beat until thoroughly combined, then beat in vanilla. Add about one-third of flour mixture followed by half of buttermilk mixture, mixing until incorporated after each addition (about 15 seconds). Repeat using half of remaining flour mixture and all of remaining buttermilk mixture. Scrape down sides of bowl and add about 1 tablespoon food coloring along with remaining flour mixture; mix at medium-low speed until batter is thoroughly combined, about 15 seconds. Add additional food coloring if necessary to achieve the desired shade of red. Remove bowl from mixer and fold batter once or twice with rubber spatula to incorporate any remaining flour.

Pipe batter in 1-inch diameter rounds about ½-inch high on prepared baking sheets, allowing 1 inch between each round. I just put the batter into a gallon freezer bag and then cut a little slit in the corner to use to portion out the batter. It worked like a charm!

Bake 7-9 minutes, or until tops are set. Cool the cookies on cookie sheets.

While the cookies bake, make the filling: Add cream cheese and butter to mixer bowl and beat until smooth. Gradually add powdered sugar, then the vanilla. Beat until smooth.

To fill, pipe cream cheese filling on flat sides of half the cookies. Top with remaining cookies, flat sides down. Push gently so cream cheese filling flutes to the edges.

To store, refrigerate in airtight container up to 4 days. Let stand at room temperature 15 minutes before serving.

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