Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with Spiced Maple Frosting

Who doesn’t love a whoopie pie?  These yummy treats are made with pumpkin, spices and sandwiched together with a decadent, spiced, maple cream cheese frosting.  All the flavours of autumn in one small (if indulgent) little cake.

Pumpkin Whoopie Pie

I made mine in a couple of Wilton 12 hole, Harvest whoopie pie pans, but they work just as well baked on a baking sheet with a non-stick liner, or parchment paper.  If you do use one pan, just be aware that you will need to keep washing and re-greasing it between baking the batches.  This can be a little time consuming, but if you want the cute shapes, totally worth it of course!

I’ve used a mixture of dark and light brown sugar and lots of spice for a dark and spicy mixture. There is more spice in the frosting too, along with maple extract.  All the flavours work so well together and create a perfect autumnal treat.

This recipe makes around 24 whoopie pies, depending on how big you make them

Pumpkin Whoopie Pie1

Ingredients:
200g dark brown soft sugar
200g light brown soft sugar
200ml vegetable oil
2 extra large eggs
1 can of pure pumpkin puree
380g plain flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1/2 tablespoon ground ginger
1/2 tablespoon ground cloves
A little extra butter, melted for brushing the whoopie pie pan

Frosting:
280g full fat cream cheese at room temperature
115g butter at room temperature
450g icing sugar
2tsp maple extract/or use 2tbs maple syrup
2tsp cinnamon
1/2tsp ground cloves
Pinch of ground allspice

Method:
Prepare the fosting first by seiving together the icing sugar and spices into a bowl.

In another bowl, beat the cream cheese, butter and maple extract together until light and fluffy. I do this in my stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, but you could easily do this with a wooden spoon.

Beat in the spiced icing sugar until smooth and fluffy.  I wrap a towel around the mixer at this point to avoid huge clouds of icing sugar coating my entire kitchen!  You don’t get that problem with a wooden spoon!

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies2

When the frosting is prepared, I pile it into a piping bag and chill until I’m ready to sandwich the cakes together.  This helps to firm up the frosting a little and make it easier to handle.  You could just leave it in a covered bowl in the fridge if not using a piping bag.

To make the whoopie pies:

Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF and brush the baking pan with melted butter or line a baking sheet with a non-stick liner or parchment.

Sieve the flour, spices, salt, baking powder and soda together in a large bowl.

Place the oil, sugars and vanilla in a bowl and whisk together.  I used a stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, but this could easily be done with a hand whisk.

Beat in the pumpkin and eggs until smooth, then add the dry ingredients and mix until just incorporated.

If using a whoopie pie pan, I find it easiest to use a piping bag.  I pipe the mixture around the outside first to ensure the batter gets into all the corners and then work into the centre in a spiral.  You only need to half fill the little holes as the mixture will rise.  Give the pan a tap to help any air escape and settle the mixture.

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies3

If not using a pan, drop heaped teaspoons of the mixture onto the lined baking sheet, leaving room for the cakes to expand a little.

Bake for around 7 – 10 minutes, but keep an eye on them, they are ready when the cakes spring back to the touch and a cocktail stick comes out clean.

Leave them to cool in the tin for 5 minutes, before turning out onto a cooling rack and baking the next batch.  Let cakes cool completely.

When all the cakes are baked and cooled, either pipe or spread a little of the frosting onto one side and sandwich the two cakes together.  You can leave them plain, or add a few sprinkles around the edge.  I’ve used some bronze sprinkles here, which I think work well, but some people have been known to add crispy bacon bits too!

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies1

These are great for a party, an after-school snack, or just with a cup of coffee.

Acorn Cakelets

I LOVE Nordic Ware cake pans! They are so well made and come in a multitude of different designs. My favourites are the Fall Harvest collection as they are designed for people who love Autumn!

Acorn cakelet pan

I’ve found them in Homesense and of course, on Amazon and I’ve collected a few of them over the years. The only trouble I have, (perfectionist that I am), is the little holes you get when you bake the cakes, spoiling the detail. I have experimented with various recipes, starting with the one that comes with the pan, meticulously brushing all the little nooks with butter, banging tins before they go into the oven but still seeing those annoying little holes!

Acorn cakelet pan1

As far as preparing the tin goes, I have buttered, buttered and floured and used cake release spray and can honestly say the best result came from using none of them! I really do think you have to have faith in the non-stick. I definitely have less holes when I don’t use anything. I think the butter can gather in the little crevices and then when the cakes bake, the butter creates steam and you can get little holes.

I also pipe the mixture in, that way you can really make sure the batter fills the little details from the bottom up.

As you will see from these photos, there are still some troublesome holes present, but mostly, they have come out smooth. I am still working on the perfect, hole-free recipe!

Acorn Cakelet collection

Below are three different flavours, all based on the same original recipe and each one is enough to fill the pan twice. Chocolate, Maple Spice and Spiced Pumpkin. My family liked the chocolate ones the best.

They are the perfect little snack and can be decorated with a glaze, sprinkles, or sandwiched together with a spiced buttercream.

Acorn Cakelets

Chocolate Acorn Cakelets

Ingredients:
125g plain/all-purpose flour
65g cocoa
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1.5tsp cinnamon
0.5tsp ground cloves
0.5tsp ground ginger
120ml whole milk
85g pure maple syrup
1tsp vanilla extract
1tsp coffee extract
115g butter at room temperature
75g caster sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten

Method:
Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F

Sieve the flour, cocoa, baking powder, salt and spices together in a bowl.

Combine the milk, maple syrup, vanilla and coffee extract in a small bowl and stir together.

Beat the butter and brown sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy. I use my stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment.

Beat in the eggs a little at a time and then with the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients and alternate with the liquid mixture until everything is combined.

If you add the milk mixture straight to the eggs, it will curdle horribly. However, it will come back when you add the flour, so don’t worry. Mix on low speed until the mixture is smooth, but don’t over-mix as the cakelets will become tough.

Pile the batter into a piping bag. I use disposable ones and just cut a little hole in the bottom. Pipe around a tablespoon of mixture into each hole so that it is around ¾ full. Pipe the batter so the holes are filled from the bottom up to try and avoid holes in your little acorns.

Give the pan a rap on the worktop – I don’t know if this really helps expel air but every little helps!

Bake for around 12 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Let cakes cool for 10 minutes or until you can see them springing back from the cavities. Turn out onto a cooling rack to fully cool if you are decorating, or you can serve them warm with coffee.

Chocolate acorn cakelet

Maple Spice Acorn Cakelets

Ingredients:
190g plain/all-purpose flour
0.5tsp baking powder
0.5tsp salt
2tsp cinnamon
0.5tsp ground cloves
0.5tsp ground ginger
120ml whole milk
85g pure maple syrup
1tsp vanilla extract
1tsp maple extract
115g butter at room temperature
50g soft brown sugar
20g dark brown sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten

Method:
Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F

Sieve the flour, baking powder, salt and spices together in a bowl.

Combine the milk, maple syrup, vanilla and maple extract in a small bowl and stir together.

Beat the butter and sugars together in a large bowl until light and fluffy.

Beat in the eggs a little at a time and then with the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients and alternate with the liquid mixture until everything is combined.

Pile the batter into a piping bag and just cut a little hole in the bottom. Pipe around a tablespoon of mixture into each hole so that it is around ¾ full and bang the pan to level the batter and expel any air.

Bake for around 12 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Let cakes cool for 10 minutes or until you can see them springing back from the cavities. Turn out onto a cooling rack.

Maple acorn cakelet

Spiced Pumpkin Acorn Cakelets

Ingredients:
200g plain/all-purpose flour
200g pumpkin puree
0.5tsp baking powder
0.5tsp salt
2tsp cinnamon
0.5tsp ground cloves
0.5tsp ground ginger
0.25tsp freshly ground nutmeg
1tsp vanilla extract
115g butter at room temperature
80g soft brown sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten

Method:
Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F

Sieve the flour, baking powder, salt and spices together in a bowl.

Beat the butter and brown sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy.

Beat in the eggs a little at a time and then beat in the pumpkin.

With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients until everything is combined.

Pipe around a tablespoon of mixture into each hole so that it is around ¾ full and bang the pan to level the batter and expel any air.

Bake for around 12-15 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. I found the pumpkin ones took a little longer than the others to be fully baked.

Let cakes cool for 10 minutes or until you can see them springing back from the cavities. Turn out onto a cooling rack.

Pumpkin acorn cakelet

Fall Salad with Pita Chips

It’s definitely starting to look autumnal outside now and I couldn’t be happier.  I know some people are feeling sad that summer is over, but autumn is SO much better.  All the colours, flavours, smells, fashion and even the angle of the sunlight make this my favourite time of year.

Fall salad3

Now all the squashes and pumpkins are starting to come into the shops, I like finding as many ways of using them that I can.  I think roasted butternut squash is really good in a salad with greens, tasty cheese and a nice dressing to bring it all together.

Fall salad2

This is a hearty, autumnal themed salad with roasted squash, red chicory, apples, walnuts and a really punchy blue cheese that I picked up – Buxton Blue.  This is a deep russet coloured cheese with blue veining and has a really good kick to it.  I also topped the salad with some Parma ham and a few pita chips for a bit of crunch – these are very quick to make.

I like to serve the dressing on the side, or if I am taking one to work with me, I love those little screw top pots that hold just the right amount.  This one has grain mustard, maple syrup and yoghurt which really works with the bitter red chicory leaves, salty cheese and sweet apples.

Ingredients:
1 small butternut squash or pumpkin
1tbs olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 head of red chicory or radicchio, end removed and leaves separated
1 bag of mixed salad leaves, or any other greens like baby spinach or kale
1 crisp, red dessert apple
Half a lemon
1 handful of walnut halves
Around 100g blue cheese – I used the Staffordshire Cheese Company’s Buxton Blue
1 pack of Parma ham
1 large pita bread

Dressing:
3tbs plain yoghurt
2tsp grain mustard
2tsp lemon juice
1tsp maple syrup
Pinch of salt and black pepper

Method:
Pre-heat the oven to 200°C/395°F

Peel and chop the butternut squash into bite-sized chunks.  Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper and place on a lined baking sheet.  Roast for around 20-25 minutes, giving them a turn half way through.  The chunks should be tender and the edges just staring to catch.

Squash

Brush the pita bread with a little olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Cut into into bite-sized squares, place onto a sheet and roast with the squash for 5-10 minutes – keep an eye on them, they should be crisp and golden.

Pita chips

Set aside while you assemble the rest of the salad.

Whisk the dressing ingredients together and check the seasoning.  Add a little more lemon or maple to adjust to preferred taste.

Core and slice the apple and toss in the juice from half a lemon so it doesnt discolour.  Arrange the leaves and red chicory on a platter and scatter over the squash, apple slices and walnuts. Break the cheese into crumbles and scatter those over too.  Gently turn to mix the salad together.

Fall salad1

Take slices of the Parma ham, gather then together, tear and place little ‘heaps’ in and around the rest of the salad.  Finally, top with the crunchy pita chips.  I prefer to serve the dressing on the side.

Fall salad4

The salad can be scaled up or down, depending on how many people you are feeding and of course, it can be plated individually.  I normally serve 1-2 slices of the Parma ham per person and sometimes use pecans instead of walnuts.

Fall salad

I think this colourful, autumnal salad is a great lunch dish and any left overs make a good packed lunch too.