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.