>> Friday, April 4, 2014
Growing up in a traditional Chinese family meant that desserts usually consisted of a sweet soup made from different type of beans (red bean, mung bean, etc) or something quite light like tofu. It doesn’t sound appetizing on paper, but it’s wonderful and will always be a favorite of mine. I always look forward to a nice bowl after dinner. Even if I’m super full, there’s always room for a bit of mango tapioca or mung bean soup.
Asians don’t usually make sugary desserts nor do they want something heavy to end off the meal. Even our baked goods are lighter and less sweet, utilizing egg whites to provide the fluffiness of a cake rather than using lots of butter which results in a brownie type texture. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoy a nice chewy cookie or the decadence of a chocolate cake, but sometimes I can find it a bit sweet. This has led me to reduce a lot of the sugar in most of my desserts and for the most part, I haven’t really noticed a difference in taste or texture.
I decided to experiment one weekend to see if I could make a red velvet whoopie pie less dense and maybe even slightly healthier while maintaining the luscious chocolate flavour. I was hoping that a lighter cake sandwiched with a fluffy cream cheese filling will still create a satisfying dessert. Since my husband is a sugar fiend, he’s usually my guinea pig when it comes to testing out dessert recipes that require me to reduce my use of sugar. When I got the big nod because he was too busy chowing down on the whoopie pies, I knew it had worked.
These whoopie pies are a nice blend of luxurious cocoa with hints of sweetness from the creamy filling, a perfect balance of healthy indulgence or at least healthier. Maybe I’ll serve this next time after a big Chinese dinner at my house instead!
Recipe adapted from the here.
Whoopie Pie Ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup plain greek yogurt
1 tbsp vinegar or lemon juice
1/2 cup butter, softened (I prefer baking with salted butter, if you’re using unsalted add in 1 tsp salt)
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp red food coloring
Whoopie Pie Preparation:
Preheat oven to 375ºF and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder and baking soda and set aside.
In a small bowl, stir together the greek yogurt and vinegar / lemon juice. It will start to curdle but that’s ok.
In a medium mixing bowl, cream the butter for 2 minutes.
Beat in the brown sugar until mixture becomes fluffy.
Add in the egg and vanilla, mix until well incorporated.
Now add the flour mixture and the greek yogurt in 3 separate stages, alternating between the flour and yogurt. This step prevents the dough from becoming lumpy.
Slowly stir in the red food coloring. Be careful not to splash the food coloring when mixing.
Using a large spoon, scoop out the dough evenly, it should form roughly 24 balls depending on how big you make them. Always make even numbers so they’re all paired at the end.
Place them on the baking sheet and leave roughly 1 inch between each ball.
Using your finger, lightly tap down the dough balls until they’re more disc like. They will rise in the oven so you don’t want them to be too round or else it will be hard to sandwich at the end.
Bake them 8-10 minutes, or until the tops set or begin to crack.
Remove from the oven and let them cool before filling.
While the whoopie pies are cooling, go ahead and prepare the filling.
Cream Cheese Filling Ingredients:
1 8oz package of cream cheese
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup powdered sugar
Cream Cheese Preparation:
Beat the cream cheese and butter on high for roughly 3 minutes.
Add in the vanilla extract, mix until full incorporated.
Slowly sift in the powdered sugar. You can add more or less sugar depending on your preference. I like my icing not as sweet and didn’t actually use the full 1/2 cup, but it’s really up to you.
Cover the icing with plastic wrap until the whoopie pies are ready for assembling. Don’t place the icing in the fridge or else it’ll get hard. Only do that once the whoopie pies have already been assembled.
Whoopie Pie Assembly:
To assemble the whoopie pies, spread icing on one of the red velvet cookies and top with another.
Repeat for all of the cookies. Place the whoopie pies in the fridge until you’re ready to serve them.
Recipe makes approximately 24 whoopie pies.