I am SO excited for this week!! Want to know why? Well, even if you don’t I’m going to tell you anyways. No, it’s not because it’s Valentines Day on Saturday. I think that it’s a Hallmark created holiday in which some people use as the only time to express love and gratitude for one another. But that’s another story. It’s because when you go grocery shopping, you see strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, chocolate, all sorts of items that I usually buy for baking, on sale!! Ok fine maybe the sale has something to do with the fact that Valentines day is on Saturday, but let’s just ignore that.
Because Valentines day is happening whether I like it or not, I have lined up some of my favorite recipes for this week. Every now and then I remember that I am a student, so we’ll just see how many recipes I am able to get to. I’ll also be making these recipes as how-to, step-by-step tutorials with photos and details so if you wanted to make them in your own kitchen, you would be able to follow along!
Starting off the week are my all time crowd favorite, red velvet whoopie pies. These are perfect to make and share with your friends or family. I remember in high school I made these almost every other week and brought them to school to share with friends. And every time, they disappeared almost as quickly as I brought them out. Over the years I have forgotten where this recipe is from but have developed some tricks to ensure that each and every batch comes out exceptionally fluffy and full of flavor. For this batch, I cut the recipe in half because, well, the more I make, the more I eat. That being said, the quantities shown is less than what you would have.
First, measure out the dry ingredients into a bowl and set it aside.
In your stand mixer, cream the butter and the sugar on medium speed until it is light and fluffy. Be sure to use butter at room temperature as it makes the mixture fluffier. Scrape the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula to get every bit creamed together. Add in the eggs, one at a time. Make sure each egg is beaten in before adding the next.
In a small bowl, measure out the buttermilk, vinegar, food coloring, and the vanilla.
Be very careful with the food coloring! It will stain your hands bright red (speaking from experience). Give it a little stir and add it into the egg mixture on a low speed. As soon as it is mixed in, scrape the sides of the bowl with the spatula.
Sift in the dry ingredients and mix until it is just barely combined.
Finish the mixing with a rubber spatula by gently folding in any of the remaining flour. Be gentle when folding; the batter is very delicate as the baking soda and powder, vinegar, and buttermilk are reacting and forming air bubbles. Set the batter aside for about 10 minutes to allow more air bubbles to form. The air bubbles will build structure in the cookie and make it fluffier and lighter. I usually wait until this stage after the batter is made to preheat the oven.
To scoop, I use the medium size OXO ice cream scoop, which holds about 1.5 Tbsp of dough. It scoops out even sizes and nice circles. If you do not have an ice cream scoop, then use two large spoons to scrape and shape. Can you see the little air bubbles in the batter? That is exactly what you want.
Scoop them out onto nonstick parchment paper or a baking mat. I use both since I only have one mat. Make sure you space them out (only 8 per standard sized baking tray) as they spread out quite a bit during baking.
This recipe made exactly 24 cookies, which will make 12 sandwich cookies. In the recipe provided below, it will have the full measurements giving you 24 sandwich cookies.
One of the parts I struggled with was how to know they are done. If they are under baked, they will stick to the parchment. If they are over baked, they will end up crispy. Baking times will vary depending on your own oven. This batch was done in exactly 14 minutes. Some things to look for to know they are done are 1. They will not be shiny on top anymore. 2. If you push on the edge of a cookie, it will bounce back, and 3. The edge of the cookie is just about to lift up and pull away from the parchment. Remove them from the oven and allow them to cool off. Do not take them off of the parchment or baking mat yet, otherwise they will stick and fall apart.
Once the cookie is cool enough to the touch, you can gently lift them from the parchment and place them on cooling racks to continue to completely cool. The perfectly baked red velvet cookie should come right off without sticking to the parchment. See how clean it comes off? Beautiful. If it sticks, it has not baked long enough so you need to put the sheet back into the oven for a few more minutes.
While they are cooling, make the frosting. I have used this frosting for years and it never fails me. It is light and fluffy without it being to overpoweringly sweet. I also like that you can actually taste the cream cheese in the cream cheese frosting. In some other recipes, you can barely taste it but this one allows the flavor to really come out.
This recipe is extremely simple. Everything is a 1:1:1:1:1 ratio. 1 box of cream cheese, 1 stick of unsalted butter, 1 teaspoon of vanilla, 1 box of powdered sugar, and 1 Tbsp heavy whipping cream. Like the cookie batter, I only made half a batch of frosting so the quantity will look less than the actual recipe amounts. Make sure the cream cheese and butter are room temperature and the powder sugar box is a standard 1 pound box.
Cream together the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla until all combined. Scrape down the bowl with a rubber spatula and sift in only 3/4 of the powder sugar. Yes, 3/4 of the box. Don’t use the whole thing just yet; reserve the rest so you have room to adjust the consistency. On low speed, mix the powder sugar and butter. It may look chunky at first but continue to let it mix and it will come together.
Pour in the cream and turn the speed onto medium high. Allow the cream cheese frosting to whip until it is completely smooth. If it is too thick, add a little bit more cream. If it is too watery, sift in some more of the reserved powder sugar until it reaches the desired consistency.
Once the cookies are completely cooled, pair the cookies up with similar shapes and sizes.
You can either spread on the frosting with a knife or use a piping bag, which is my preference. I used a 1M piping tip to make a rose swirl, but completely unnecessary as you will be covering it anyways. The amount of frosting should be exactly enough for all of the cookies.
Sigh…isn’t the rose swirl just gorgeous?
The best way to keep these cookies are with parchment paper and an airtight container. If you are going to stack them for more than 30 minutes, it is best to have a piece of parchment paper in between each one to avoid them from sticking. Keep them in an airtight container for no more than two nights. No need to refrigerate as they will harden and dry out.
I hope these were helpful and you enjoy these cookies as much as I have these past few years! Best of luck!
Red Velvet Whoopie Pies
makes 24 sandwich cookies (keep in mind I used half of this recipe for the above batch of cookies)
2 2/3 c flour
4 Tbsp cocoa powder
2 tsp baking power
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
4 Tbsp buttermilk
4 tsp apple cider vinegar
2 tsp vanilla
2 Tbsp red food coloring
1 stick butter, room temperature
2 c sugar
Measure out the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a medium bowl. Set aside.
Measure out the buttermilk, vinegar, vanilla, and food coloring into a small bowl. Set aside.
In a stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, 1 at a time. Scrape down the bowl with a rubber spatula. Beat in the reserved buttermilk mixture until all combined. Sift in the dry ingredients until just incorporated. Finish the mixing by folding it in with a rubber spatula. Set aside for 10 minutes to allow it to build volume.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Use an ice cream scoop to drop the batter onto parchment lined baking trays. Make sure you space it out enough as the cookies spread very easily. Bake for 12-15 minutes until the tops of the cookies are no longer shiny and the edges bounce back when pressed against.
Allow it to slightly cool before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. While it is cooling, make the frosting.
Whipped Cream Cheese Frosting
1 stick butter, room temp
1 box (8 oz) cream cheese, room temp
1 tsp vanilla
1 box (1 pound) powder sugar
1 Tbsp heavy whipping cream
In a stand mixer, cream together the butter, cream cheese, and vanilla on medium speed. Sift in 3/4 of the powder sugar and on medium speed, cream until it begins to stick together. Once all of the powder sugar is incorporated, increase speed to medium high and add in the whipping cream and beat for two minutes. If it is still too thick, add some more. If it is too watery, sift in some more powder sugar.
Pair up the cookies with another one of same shape and size (each cookie may spread differently). Pipe or spoon in some frosting onto the bottom side of one cookie and cap it off with another.