After seeing a few awesome looking red velvet cakes and red velvet cupcakes on various blogs my kids started bugging me to make this brightly colored confection. To be honest, while they are great to look at I wasn't sure if I was going to make a dessert that required me to add in a whole bottle of red food dye. It kind of went against everything I usually stand for. I try to maintain a dye-free zone around the house whenever possible with one of the only exceptions being my personal weakness; M&M's.
I figured since I had never tasted this cake I should give it a go at least once in my life, even if just for the fact to say: I tried it. I knew I didn't want a big cake around the house, especially if it turned out to be something I wasn't too fond of. The other idea was to make cupcakes, but it's been done on other blogs and sometimes the rebel in me wants to be a little bit different. So what was left? Yep, whoopie pies. These little delights are always a huge hit when I make them and they are also perfect to "pawn off" on neighbors and friends. This recipe is adapted yet again from this great little book that has so many fun ideas inside: Whoopie Pies by Sarah Billingsley and Amy Treadwell.
This whoopie pie starts by baking the cake part. The recipe calls for up to 1 cup of cocoa, but also mentions that 1/4 cup might suffice if you want more of a red looking cake. I used the later since I wasn't going for chocolate flavor. Besides the usual suspects of flour, butter, sugar, and eggs, this also calls for buttermilk. I always have a small container in my fridge, but if you don't, or don't want to purchase any, it can easily be made by measuring 1 tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar into a cup and adding milk to total 1 cup. Let it sit for about 5 minutes, give it a stir and you are good to go.
To make perfect whoopie pies use an ice cream scoop to drop perfect little round cakes onto your baking sheet.
The filling of these whoopies is a traditional cream cheese frosting. I started with the recipe given in the book, but decided after tasting it that it was lacking cream cheese flavor, so I doubled the amount it called for since you can never have too much cream cheese, right?
So, what was the verdict of these little desserts? The kids loved them, their friends loved them, and I think my neighbors enjoyed them as well. As far as my husband is concerned, he thought they were tasty but I'm pretty sure he wouldn't ask for them again. What about me you are wondering? Well, this is tricky since I loved the frosting. The cake part I felt kind of "eh" about. I could take it or leave it. In fact, I was almost annoyed that it didn't have a distinguished flavor. Would I make them again? Maybe. If I was trying to go for a theme I think they would be adorable, or if someone asked me specifically about making them. Considering that you can find so many incredible other cakes or whoopie pie combinations out there, this one just left me lukewarm and I could find much better options to waste my calories on, but if you are a fan of Red Velvet anything, then you must give them a try, I bet you'll like them!
Red Velvet Whoopie with Cream Cheese Filling
For the pies:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder (can be upped to 1 cup if you want more cocoa flavor)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 ounce (one small bottle) red food coloring
1 cup buttermilk
For the filling:
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 1/2 cups (one 16-ounce box) confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the pies: Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt onto a sheet of waxed paper.
In the work bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter, shortening, and both sugars on low speed until just combined. Increase the speed to medium and beat until fluffy and smooth, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla and red food coloring and beat just until blended.
Add half of the flour mixture and half of the buttermilk to the batter and beat on low until just incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the remaining flour mixture and 1/2 cup buttermilk and beat until completely combined.
Using an ice cream scoop, drop batter onto one of the prepared baking sheet and repeat, spacing them at least 2 inches apart. Bake one sheet at a time for about 10 minutes each, or until the cakes spring back when pressed gently. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and let the cakes cool on the sheet for about 5 minutes before transferring them to a rack to cool completely.
For the filling: In the work bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the cream cheese and butter on medium speed. Add the sugar and beat on low speed until combined. Add the vanilla and increase the speed to medium, beat until creamy and smooth, about 4 minutes.
Assembling the whoopie pies: Spread filling onto the flat side of one cake using a knife or spoon. Top with another cake, flat-side down. Repeat with the rest of the cakes and filling.
Alternatively, you can use a pastry bag with a round or star tip to pipe the filling onto the cakes, which will give you a smoother, neater presentation.
Adapted from: Whoopie Pies