Pumpkin-Banana Mini Whoopie Pies with Cream Cheese Filling

whoopie pies

Cookie-making season is right now. Everywhere you turn: television, magazines, newspapers, blogs, etc., there are recipes for cookies everywhere. But what is a cookie? Merriam-Webster's dictionary defines cookie as a small flat or slightly raised cake. If that is so, than many cookie recipes I know would not fit that definition. But I think a cookie can really be any compact and transportable confection. So, here is a scrumptious take on the cookie: whoopie pies. Originating from New England and Pennsylvania, a whoopie pie is a sandwich of two cake-like cookies with filling in the middle—not unlike the Little Debbie snacks that you get at convenience stores.

I've adapted a recipe from Baked by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito of Baked bakery in Red Hook, Brooklyn, to make this scaled-down version. With a half can of pumpkin purée left over from Thanksgiving and some very ripe bananas, I thought a pumpkin-banana combination would work especially well for whoopie pies. The result was a supremely moist cake that has the flavor of gingerbread. This version is perfect for sharing at any holiday celebration since each whoopie pie is a little more than bite size.

Pumpkin-Banana Mini Whoopie Pies

1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1 cup packed dark-brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1/2 cup canola oil
1 cup pumpkin purée
1/2 cup mashed ripe banana (about 1 large)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line baking sheets with oven-safe parchment paper or Silpats.

In a medium bowl, sift together the dry ingredients: flour, baking soda, baking powder, and all the spices.

In a large bowl, using a handheld mixer, beat together the sugar, salt, egg, oil, pumpkin, banana, and vanilla until well combined. With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients a little at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl now and then, until the mixture is smooth.

Use a small releasable ice cream scoop to drop rounded spoons of the batter evenly onto the baking sheets. Bake until pies are set, about 12 minutes. Cool completely in the pan. Yield: 40 mini pie halves.

Cream Cheese Filling

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups confectioners sugar

In a large bowl, using a handheld mixer, beat together the butter, cream cheese, and vanilla until well combined. With the mixer on low speed, add the confectioners sugar a little at a time. Mix until incorporated. Increase the speed, continuing to mix until light and fluffy. Yield: enough filling for 20 mini pies.