Cookie Time: Halloween

It’s Halloween!  What are you going to do?!  You are going to make these pumpkin whoopie pies, courtesy of Martha Stewart, with tweaks.

For a while there, Halloween was my favorite American holiday, because it’s sort of non-religious and not everyone else does it.  I was not really into it in college actually, or maybe not with it enough to get a costume together, but I had a run of good costumes afterwards: Inspector Gadget, Flava Flav, Michael Jackson (two years before he died), Jareth the Goblin King, and Paul the Psychic Octopus (R.I.P).  This year I’m going to be/was a dead polar bear, with a little ice floe.

Anyway, now I think friend thanksgiving may be my favorite American holiday, though cousin thanksgiving is also not bad.  But friend thanksgiving is good because I know such good cooks, who bring food, and they are also good friends.

Anyway, whoopie pies:


1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed dark-brown sugar
1 large egg
1 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/3 cup canned solid pack pumpkin
1/2 tsp  cinnamon
1/2 tsp grated nutmeg

1. Prepare cookies: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt into a medium bowl; set aside.
2. Place butter, shortening, and sugars into the bowl and get out your trusty hand mixer, or put everything into a stand mixer, if you have one of those.  I guess you could do this by hand but it won’t be as good.  Mix until smooth, about 3 minutes.  Add egg mix for  2 minutes. Mix in half the flour mixture, then the milk and vanilla. Mix in remaining flour mixture.  (full disclosure: I messed up this part in many different ways, because I can’t read, but the cookies came out fine).

3. Now, if there is anything I have learned from cookie making, is that you want to refrigerate the dough for a few minutes before baking, for several reasons, like because the butter shouldn’t get too melty, which is also why you chill pie dough before baking.  So cover your bowl and put it in the fridge.  While you are chilling the dough you can clean up and/or get started on the filling (see below).
4. Anyway, after about 15 minutes (or more is fine), drop about 2 teaspoons of dough onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper, spacing 2 inches apart.   I didn’t measure exactly, but the ones I made came out too big.  You want a good filling:cookie ratio.  Bake for 12 minutes, until they spring back when touched.  Touch every single one several times, just to make sure.  Just keep touching, everyone will like that.  Transfer to wire racks after a bit.

Now for the filling, which is really good
5. Again with your trusty mixer, whip together cream cheese, butter, and confectioners’ sugar on medium speed until smooth, about 3 minutes. Add pumpkin, cinnamon, and nutmeg and whip until smooth.  Look at it and taste it and add more of anything to get the balance you want.  I added more pumpkin (1/4 cup up to 1/3 cup or so) for more of an orange color (and pumpkin flavor) and more cinnamon and nutmeg.  Of course, we are fancy I hope, and have a microplane grater and fresh nutmeg.  Picture Ina Garten smiling down on you (be sure not to tell her you didn’t use an actual vanilla pod…).

6. Cookie – filling – another cookie.  There is a limit to how much filling you can put in, because if you put to much it will just be messy.  That’s why the cookies should be smallish to keep the cookie:filling ratio down (it’s not linear, because smaller cookies would require fewer bites, thus reducing mess.  I don’t know, do whatever you like, I’m just saying).
Happy Halloween!


Duck of the Week: Tammi the Return Duck



Tammi’s been very busy, what with applying to jobs and travelling and trying to escape the heat.  But she’s back, and so am I.

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