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pumpkin whoopie pies with maple marshmallow cream

Fall is our cat’s favorite time of year. As the weather starts to cool, she likes being indoors with us, watching the leaves change colors, listening to the soothing sounds of an occasional southern California rain (when we are lucky), and enjoying the cozy, fragrant aromas of freshly baked pies and hot apple cider. But most of all… Sylvia is obsessed with pumpkin! We gave it to her as a kitten, and now she loves it so much that we have to be careful saying the word around her. We’ll have to figure out something soon, because now she’s starting to catch on when we spell out P-U-M-P-K-I-N. This dessert—which features her favorite ingredient—caught our attention three years ago while it was circulating the internet with its extraordinary photo and dreamy title, and there is no excuse why we haven’t made it until now, especially with a name that is so appealing and fun to announce: pumpkin whoopie pies with maple marshmallow cream.

These are the ultimate fall treat, combining the warm scents of cinnamon, cloves, and pumpkin into an ultra-velvety, tender, cake-like cookie. Two of them are then sandwiched together and generously filled with the silkiest, most pillow-soft maple marshmallow cream imaginable. The key is to use a delicious all-natural maple extract, because while many stores will carry artificially-flavored kinds, they aren’t nearly as good, so it is worth it to find a brand that will fill your whoopie pies with the richest and purest maple flavor possible. This fluffy marshmallow filling is different from many traditional recipes because it doesn’t use shortening, keeping it smooth and creamy, and light enough to perfectly complement the tender pumpkin-spice cakes that surround it.

Whoopie pies are perfect to make for a potluck or party. They keep well at room temperature, so you can easily make them ahead of time. Plus with no cutting or utensils needed, these single-serving pies are a breeze to serve. And as impressive as they taste fresh from the oven, these handheld treats are also wonderful the next day with a texture like the best homemade Twinkie: boasting a soft and spongy, golden outside and an irresistibly creamy center. It comes as no surprise that the name whoopie pie arose because they were so good that Amish farmers would shout “whoopie!” upon discovering one in their lunchbox. Setting these adorably decadent desserts on a platter for this weekend’s Halloween festivities is guaranteed to have you and your guests exclaiming “whoopie!” all night long.

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with Maple Marshmallow Cream
adapted from Bon Appétit
makes about 20 pies

For the pumpkin whoopie pies:
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup (5.6 ounces) dark brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs
15 ounces pumpkin purée (not pumpkin pie filling)
1/2 cup almond milk (soy or dairy milk will also work)

For the maple marshmallow cream:
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
7 ounces marshmallow creme
2 teaspoons natural maple extract

Make the pumpkin whoopie pies:
In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, then set aside. In a large mixing bowl, combine the butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar. Mix until smooth and blended, then with the mixer running, slowly pour in the vegetable oil, and continue mixing briefly to combine. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing briefly between each addition. Then add the pumpkin purée and blend until combined. Add half of the flour mixture, and blend briefly. Add the milk, stir to combine, then add the remaining flour mixture, and blend until smooth. Cover bowl, and refrigerate batter for one hour.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Arrange one rack in the lower third of the oven, and another rack in the upper third. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper, and grease the paper (We like to grease the baking sheets and then lay the parchment down, since the butter helps the parchment stick to the pan and not curl up). Spoon the batter onto the baking sheets to form small cakes, using about 3 level tablespoons for each one, fitting about 12 cakes on each baking sheet. Let the pans sit for 10 minutes, then bake for 20 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through, until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cake comes out clean. Cool cakes for about 5 minutes on the baking pan, then use a spatula to transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat with the remaining batter, making sure that the baking pans are cool before placing the batter on them.

Make the maple marshmallow cream:
Sift the powdered sugar into a large mixing bowl, then add the butter and beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the marshmallow creme and maple extract, and continue to beat until smooth and blended.

Assemble whoopie pies:
Place one cake, flat side up, on a plate. Spoon about 2-3 tablespoons of maple marshmallow cream on top, then top with another cake, flat side down. Repeat with remaining cakes, and enjoy!

a few notes:
— Maple extract is often made with artificial flavors, so be sure to find an all-natural brand if possible. We used Archer Farms maple extract (available at Target), and there are many other options online.
— These whoopie pies will keep for several days in a sealed container at room temperature.