Spiced Beet Whoopie Pies

These whoopie pies sandwich a layer of fluffy cream cheese frosting between two pillowy mounds of spice cake.  They’re like a cross between a gingersnap, a cupcake, and a cloud from Care-a-Lot*. Perfect for holiday gatherings, or for eating by yourself during a claymation movie marathon.

Pumpkin has become a popular ingredient in holiday whoopie pies, but it makes the cake stickier than I like.  I adapted this recipe from Martha Stewart’s and Rachel Ray’s recipes for pumpkin whoopie pies, using beet puree in place of the pumpkin.  The beets give the finished cookies a soft, cake=like texture, and an earthy flavor that’s not too sweet.  The beet flavor in this recipe is complemented by a blend of traditional holiday spices: cinnamon, allspice, cardamom, and nutmeg. (I would have added cloves and ginger if I had them on hand.) Don’t skimp on these spices!  The taste of beets needs a big spicy kick to balance it out.

Spiced Beet Whoopie Pies
(makes 8 large desserts; each serving 2 people or one very hungry elf)
8 tablespoons butter, softened
1 cup packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
3/4 cup beet puree, from 1 large beet or several mini beets (instructions below)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/2 tablespoon cardamom
1/2 tablespoon allspice
1/2 tablespoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-2/3 cups flour
4 tablespoons butter, softened
4 tablespoons cream cheese
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1-2 tablespoons milk, as needed for texture

First, make beet puree. I used 6, ping pong ball-sized beets to make 3/4 cup puree.  One or two large beets would work, too. Place whole, unpeeled beets in a saucepan and cover with water.  Boil for at least half an hour, until flesh is tender and can be pierced with a fork.  Drain beets and allow to cool. Once beets can be handled safely, remove skin with a paring knife or your fingers and puree cooked beets in a food processor.

Next up, make the cookies. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment.  Combine in a food processor 3/4 cup beet puree, 8 tablespoons softened butter, brown sugar, eggs, and vanilla extract.  Process until mixture is smooth and well combined. In a large mixing bowl, sift together flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and dried spices. Carefully pour the beet mixture into the mixing bowl, and use a rubber spatula to fold the beet mixture and flour mixture together.

Using an ice cream scoop or 1/4 cup measuring cup, portion cookie dough into 16 mounds, spaced evenly onto each baking sheet. Bake in preheated oven for 12 minutes, until springy to the touch. Remove from oven and transfer to a rack to cool completely.

Meanwhile, using an electric mixer, cream 4 tablespoons softened butter with cream cheese.  Add the confectioners’ sugar 1/2 cup at a time, mixing on low until blended and then at medium-high speed until fluffy. Depending on the weather, the frosting may reach the appropriate texture before the full two cups of sugar are mixed in.  If necessary, thin frosting with a little milk.

Spread cream cheese frosting on the flat side of half the cookies; top with remaining cookies.  Store in an airtight container in the fridge for at least an hour and up to three days before serving.

Click here for a printable version of this recipe.

*Remember Care-a-lot?  I like to think that even Professor Coldheart would get into the holiday spirit if he were served beet whoopie pies at a Festivus party.


11 responses to “Spiced Beet Whoopie Pies

  1. I was directed over here from Kendi Everyday– I’m a fellow Austinite living in the Crestview neighborhood, too! Love your blog – these cookies look amazing. I’m not much of a cook myself (that’s the better half) but I’m so excited to peruse your “Eating Out” and “Shopping” tags… I’ve only been here for a year and am still learning about all the great little nooks. 🙂 Thanks so much for sharing!

  2. Franny, it’s so great to meet you! We should meet in real life at Little Deli sometime.

    Sydney, thank you! I think they’re really yummy. 🙂

  3. Did you ever read Jessica Seinfeld’s book about secret ingredients? This reminds me of it, yummy but with something good for you, too. I had forgotten all about Professor Coldheart until my 3 year old started to love CareBears recently;)

  4. Christi, I did read that book. I think Jessica Seinfeld shared a lot of great recipes, but it really bugs me that she kept the veggies a secret. How are we supposed to teach kids- or grownups- to eat healthy if we hide the ingredients from them? That being said, I am a huge advocate of tucking beets, pumpkin, spinach, and other produce into as many sweets as possible because they taste so good!

  5. You had me at cream cheese frosting.

  6. These look yummy! I’ve yet to meet a whoopie pie I didn’t like. The beets are an innovative take I’ve only seen sweet potato and pumpkin used before. Great way to get your RDAs in!

  7. oh my gosh this looks absolutely delicious. I love whoopie pies!!
    Wearing It On My Sleeves

  8. I mean, while I do like the cakes and cookies that generally accompany cream cheese frosting, they are more of the vehicle for ingesting massive amounts of cream cheese frosting without being the girl eating cream cheese frosting from the bowl without having made an accompanying baked good. That’s how strongly I feel about cream cheese frosting. 🙂

  9. Pingback: Top 10 of 2010, Plus Printable Recipes! | The Austin Gastronomist

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