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fall...pumpkin cookies with cream cheese filling...yummm! ~~~~~~~~ Wednesday, October 8, 2008 Pumpkin

fall...pumpkin cookies with cream cheese filling...yummm! ~~~~~~~~ Wednesday, October 8, 2008 Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with Creamy Cream Cheese Filling It's October already! Oh how I love the Fall season! But here in the Malibu, there isn't much of a fall "season" per say. For instance, yesterday, the temperature reached the mid 80's! The sun was beautifully glistening on the ocean and the sky was a clear, bright blue. Just gorgeous!  However, to remind myself that it really is Fall and that we're really in October now, I wanted to bake something with one of my favorite Fall ingredients: Pumpkin! I bought a can of pumpkin from the grocery store last weekend, determined to make something sweet with this tasty squash. I searched and searched for recipes on the web, debating between pumpkin bars swirled with cream cheese or maybe even pumpkin pie flavored ice-cream (did I mention it was in the 80's!). Finally, after viewing many mouth watering pictures of these treats, I couldn't resist trying my hand at making Whoopie Pies.  This was my very first attempt at ever making whoopie...pies that is ;) And trust me, there was a lot to learn. I got the recipe from researching many others and cutting and pasting to create something I thought would work for me. It turned out to a little more challenging than the impression I got from other recipes. First off, my whoopie pies did not spread much while baking. I used my little cookie scoop to dish out uniformly sized cakes and on the first batch as I expected them to spread into flatter cookie-like shapes. This did not occur! Instead, they puffed straight up into little mounds! They looked super cute and tasted great, but it definitely wasn't what I expected. For my second batch, I tried using a spoon to flatten them out a bit, you know, give them a little direction as to which way to go. But alas, still poof and no spread. Finally, I got the idea to put the batter into a pastry bag and actually pipe out little swirls of the shape I was looking for and Volia! It worked beautifully! Besides being the perfect height and shape, they sure looked great topped with a little swirl designed that kept it's shape in the oven. It's funny how sometimes the last batch is the best :) While my little pumpkins were baking I whipped up a little cream cheese frosting to go in the middle of the whoopie pie sandwich. Cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar and just a hint of cinnamon... so simple but sooo yummy! Filling the whoopie pies also turned out to be another challenge altogether but that's mainly because I was trying to make them look nice by using a pastry bag and pipe out the filling with a star tip. But I suppose too much pressure is a bad thing with cream cheese frosting because the bag busted as I was trying to squeeze out a pretty design! Trust me folks, the best way to get whoopie pies filled is just to use a big ol' spoon and slather away! Plus once you squish the top half onto the bottom, the frosting does that lovely oozing thing, which in my opinion, it a sight to behold all in itself.  Oh and because I used cream cheese as a filling, I think these whoopie pies taste phenomenal on the next day after being chilled in the fridge over night. The pies stay moist and the filling is soft and sweet, yet firm. But hey, it's up to you. They taste great either way. I highly recommend you try them as a way to kick off the pumpkin-y season because the smell of baking these will fill you with that cozy, "fall season" sensation.  Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with Cream Cheese Filling Makes 12-14 3 cups AP Flour 1 Tablespoon cinnamon 1 teaspoon baking soda 1 teaspoon baking powder 1 teaspoon ground ginger ½ teaspoon salt ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg ¼ teaspoon ground cloves 1 cup brown sugar 1 cup Splenda (use could white sugar if you like) 1 cup vegetable oil 1 - 15 oz. can of pumpkin 2 large eggs 1 teaspoon vanilla extract Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat together brown sugar, Splenda, oil and pumpkin. Add eggs one at time, mixing well after each addition, followed by the vanilla. In a separate bowl, shift together the dry ingredients. Slowly incorporate the dry ingredients into the wet until just combined.  Using a pastry bag with a round tip, or a big zip top plastic bag with one corner snipped, squeeze out concentric circles of batter, starting from the middle and working outward until the circles are about 2 inches in diameter. Bake for 11 minutes and cool on a rack. Cream Cheese Filling 1 - 8 oz. package of cream cheese, softened 1 stick of unsalted butter, room temperature 1 - 16 oz. package of powdered sugar about a capful of vanilla extract a pinch of cinnamon (to taste) Beat together cream cheese and butter. Add powdered sugar, vanilla and cinnamon. Frost flat side of half the pies and top with another piece.  Enjoy right away or chill overnight.Rebecca Cox

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