In case you haven’t seen the zillions of commercials telling you to buy flowers and candy or taken a stroll through a card aisle that has been swathed in pink or red, Valentine’s Day is upon us. As such, the theme for this month’s What’s Baking is baking with V-day colors.
I had those leftover pieces of summer-picked strawberries from when I strained the liquid part of canned preserves for the linzer cookies and I was itching to use them in something pink and sweet and delicious. The perfection of strawberries and chocolate can’t be denied and as soon as I remembered that I had a never-used heart-shaped whoopie pie pan sitting in storage, I had whoopie pies in my head.
So I found a recipe and got to work. For the first round, I spooned in the batter and they turned out not like cute heart cookies but like blobs.
For the second round, I piped in the batter and used a wet finger to distribute it evenly throughout the heart-shaped wells. Ok, now we have more heart and less blob but they still didn’t have flat sides that were good for icing and sandwiching together.
Bottom line, this pan would be great for heart-shaped mini muffins or something but not whoopie pies–they needed a nice flat side which I’d have to get from a baking sheet.
So, I abandoned the shape but kept the flavors. Which were awesome.
The chocolate is deep and rich but not too sweet and the cake is soft. The strawberry filling is creamy and bright with a little tang from the cream cheese and pretty pink from the strawberries. Reminiscent of a chocolate covered strawberry but much friendlier and homey, like a baked good should be.
What’s Baking: Chocolate Whoopie Pies with Strawberry Filling
For the cookies
- 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
- 3/4 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- 3/4 cup granulated white sugar
- 1 large egg, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup vanilla yogurt
- 1/2 cup lukewarm water
For the filling
- 1/3 cup strawberry preserves, strained, solid parts
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
- 4 ounces (1/2 block) cream cheese, room temperature
- 2 tablespoons milk or cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- Red food coloring, if desired
- Melted white chocolate, if desired
For the cookies
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a large bowl sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
In the bowl of your electric mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg beating well. Beat in the vanilla extract.
In a small measuring cup, mix the yogurt and water. With the mixer on low speed, alternately add the flour mixture and buttermilk/coffee mixture, in three additions, beginning and ending with the flour.
Drop heaping tablespoons (I used a 1-inch disher for even portions) of the batter onto the prepared baking sheets, spacing about 2 inches (5 cm) apart. With moistened fingers or with the back of a spoon, smooth the tops of the cookies.
Bake for about 9 - 10 minutes or until the tops of the cookies, when lightly pressed, spring back. Remove from oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
For the filling
In the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine the strawberry preserve solids (discard the strained liquid or reserve for another purpose), butter, cream cheese, milk or cream and vanilla until well combined and fluffy.
With the mixer on low, slowly add powdered sugar until incorporated. Add red food coloring if a deeper color if desired.
Check for spreading consistency--if your filling seems a little thin, add more powdered sugar; if it seems a little stiff add milk or cream one 1/4 teaspoon at a time.
Match cookies into pairs by sizes.
Spread about 1 tablespoon of filling on the flat side of one cookie, spreading almost to the edges. Top with another cookie, flat side down, smushing a little to make the cookies stick properly and distribute the filling.
If desired, place melted white chocolate in an icing bag or a zip top bag with the corner snipped and pipe chocolate back and forth over cookies.
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