the moveable feasts

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with Cream Cheese Frosting

with 19 comments

pumpkin whoopie pie

I must admit, I’m not your usual contender for pumpkin whoopie pies. I mean, whoopie pies? They sound like something you’d see featured on Paula Deen’s show: you know, humble home cooking, stuffed with the usual butter and cream cheese and oil. There’s no frills about them, and they don’t pretend to be something they’re not. There is absolutely nothing wrong with any of this, nothing at all. I enjoy those types of things, in fact. But I just don’t seek them out, I don’t order whoopie-anything when I see it, and I don’t put them on my list of things to make.

That is until my twin sister, good person that she is, introduced them to me. It was a little less than a year ago, the night she made a batch, and I was visiting her apartment in Seattle. I remember trying one of the cookies when they first came out of the oven and I became immediately shocked with how moist and cakey they were. Reaching to grab another to much on, she slapped my hand and told me to wait until she had  made the buttercream filling. Needless to say, I managed to eat my fair share of whoopie pies that night. I had been converted.

cream cheese frosting and whoopie cakes

This humble little whoopie pie has been catching my attention ever since, and I marked it on my list of things to make for this autumn. Make it I did, last Friday when a friend and I deemed the time appropriate for a “treat and movie night.” The cookies, once cooled and slathered with cream cheese frosting, were addictingly tasty. But something was a little funny about them–they were delicious, of course, but very moist. Just enough to be too moist. I know, shocking! But it happens. To see a picture of just how moist, see here. Even after extending the baking time, they just weren’t quite right.


Unsatisfied that my experience wasn’t as pleasing as I remembered, I sought out to adjust the recipe (after comparing it with just about a hundred others) and try again. Yes, there I was the following night, mixing up pumpkin and sugar and flour. Sometimes I’m not sure it pays off having this unnatural interest in baking.

But who am I kidding? Of course it does. Because the second time around I was left a pumpkin whoopie pie worthy of creating nostalgia. It is fantastically moist (but not too much so), spicy with cinnamon, cloves and ginger, and wonderfully balanced by a smooth cream cheese frosting. Scoff all you want at the idea of a whoopie pie (if you are once like I was), but in the end this humble little treat will always be around because it is simply pleasing. Eventually you’ll come around, just like me.

pumpkin whoopie pie

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with Cream Cheese Frosting
Adapted from Martha Stewart
Makes about 16 2-inch sized whoopie pie sandwiches (about 10 if you make them the 3-4-inches size I did)

The spice amounts  may seem like a lot (they are even more so in the original recipe), but trust me on this one. Also, although I just plopped the dough onto a cookie sheet, I think an ice cream scoop (a smallish one) with a release would make the tops prettier as they bake–more crackly. One more thing: this recipe halves easily, just so you know.

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cloves
2 cups firmly packed dark-brown sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
2 cups pumpkin puree, chilled
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

cream cheese frosting (recipe follows)

To make the cookies, preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat; set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves; set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together brown sugar and oil until well combined. Add pumpkin puree and whisk until combined. Add eggs and vanilla and continue to whisk until well combined. Sprinkle flour mixture over pumpkin mixture and whisk until fully incorporated. The consistency should look like something between that of batter and dough. It won’t be stiff like regular cookies.

Using a small ice cream scoop that has a release (or a couple of spoons), drop heaping tablespoons (about the size of golf-balls)of dough onto prepared baking sheets, about 1 inch apart. Transfer to oven and bake until cookies are just starting to crack on top and a toothpick inserted into the center of each cookie comes out clean, about 12 minutes. The tops should look set and fully cooked, but the cookies will look moist. Let cool completely.

To assemble the whoopie pies, pipe or spread a large dollop of the cream cheese frosting on one cooled whoopie cookie and then press that together with another cookie. After assembling the cookies, refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. However, if the frosting is somewhat chilled, it shouldn’t be a problem eating the cookie sandwiches as is without the refrigeration. Assembled cookies will last refrigerated for up to three days.

Cream Cheese Frosting
3 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
8 ounces (1 package, usually) cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter until smooth. Add cream cheese and beat until well combined. Add confectioners’ sugar and vanilla, beat just until smooth.

Written by Amy

October 20, 2011 at 2:48 pm

Posted in Cookies and Bars

Tagged with , ,

19 Responses

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  1. Oh yum! I wish that first picture could come to life. These look heavenly! Good for you for giving it another try. I’m not so good about doing that. I tend to get distracted and move onto something else. Looks like they were certainly worth it! I know a lot of people who would just devour these ;) I’m going to make them when I get the chance!


    October 20, 2011 at 3:28 pm

  2. Oh WOW! These look so good. I’ve never done whoopie pie before. Is the batter more like cookie or cake batter…or a happy medium? I like that they’re so much easier to eat than a cupcake. Not awkward to hold, nice and portable, and you get a perfect cake:frosting ratio with every bite. Definitely want to try out something whoopie soon!


    October 20, 2011 at 8:09 pm

    • Yep, it’s definitely a “happy medium” in terms of the texture of the batter. Kind of a cake-cookie hybrid. :)


      October 20, 2011 at 9:57 pm

  3. so i’m pmsing and stressing hardcore right now and starving in studio at midnight with no food and would just about kill for one of these right now.

    really like the writing too in this one. and it’s not only because I’m in it ;) (but that didn’t hurt)


    October 20, 2011 at 11:11 pm

  4. Oh man, I can smell the goodness! Those look DELICIOUS! I will def be giving them a try in the near future!


    October 21, 2011 at 11:13 am

  5. I’ve never made or tried a whoopie pie, but everything’s better with some cream cheese frosting. I think these are going on the fall baking list.


    October 21, 2011 at 2:16 pm

  6. I can’t wait for you to come home and make these for me….but I might not wait that long now that I have the secret recipe, hee hee…….


    October 22, 2011 at 5:53 pm

  7. Amy, I have to admit, I’ve been one of those whoopie pie sceptics. Every time I go to Williams-Sonoma, it seems, they’ve got some sort of whoopie-pie pan displayed in the window, and I roll my eyes. I’m a little desserted-out at the moment (too much baking last week), but maybe, just maybe, you’ve convinced me to give whoopie pies a chance. I’m not sure that I’ll get around to making some any time soon, but maybe I can convince someone to make them for me. Lucky you with your twin sister. :)


    October 23, 2011 at 7:20 am

  8. Yum! These look so moist and delicious, and can imagine the cream cheese frosting works beautifully with the pumpkin. I’m a bit of a whoopie pie sceptic – but I prefer them to cupcakes as they’re a little more rustic and tend to be more flavourful. Great post :-)


    October 24, 2011 at 5:26 am

  9. Love it!
    I just made pumpkin whoopie pies too…they are so satisfying. The moistness with that cream cheese frosting is heavenly.

    Rachel @ Bakerita

    October 24, 2011 at 2:06 pm

  10. What a lovely recipe, it sounds great. I think I should make them, especially as in Europe, it’s still quite hard to find Whoopies to buy.


    October 25, 2011 at 11:33 am

  11. I’ve never heard of whoopie pies!! These look like a cross between a muffin and a cookie?? The cream cheese frosting looks amazing.


    October 25, 2011 at 8:51 pm

    • It’s exactly like that–except maybe more like a cross between a cupcake and a cookie. :) You should give them a try! Really homey, really satisfying.


      October 26, 2011 at 9:15 am

  12. I’m a big Whoopee Pie fan; these look delicious with all those warming spices hints of the Holiday season to come. GG

    Glamorous Glutton

    October 26, 2011 at 4:31 am

  13. These look really great! I’ve often had whoopie pies that are too dry (ick), so I love seeing a recipe for one that won’t have that problem. :)


    October 26, 2011 at 6:11 am

  14. Amy! This recipe is almost a duplicate of the scd pumpkin muffin recipe I make (with the exception of the baking powder and flour and sugar)! You will have to try them when I come up for thanksgiving!


    November 6, 2011 at 11:27 pm

  15. Your recipes says it makes 16 whoopie pie, how large or small are they?


    October 30, 2012 at 5:34 pm

    • Thanks for bringing this to my attention– I should be more specific with that. If you make them as big as I did, as shown in the picture (about 3-4 inches in diameter), it’ll only yield about 10 whoopie pies. If you make make heaping tablespoon-sized ones, though, that’ll yield about 16 whoopie pies.


      October 30, 2012 at 5:41 pm

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