Pumpkin with cream cheese is a classic combination. With these pumpkin whoopie pies, where soft, cake-like pumpkin cookies sandwich tangy cream cheese filling, I’m also giving you the option to experiment with another excellent cheese.
How to choose the right cheese for your filling
Often found in tiramisu filling, mascarpone cheese is equally creamy, made with heavy cream — not whole milk like cream cheese. It’s richer, not as tangy, and almost carries a malty flavor. Use whichever you have, or whichever you can find, and your buttercream filling will turn out great. If you do opt for mascarpone, try to get a high-quality one as cheaper options tend to be runnier and prone to splitting in the buttercream. And if you do decide to use cream cheese, avoid using the cream cheese “spreads” as they won’t mix well into buttercream. It’s best to just get the 8-ounce cream cheese blocks.
What is the actual flavor of “pumpkin spice”?
One thing not enough people don’t know: Pumpkin doesn’t have much of a taste! And because of that, a lot of “pumpkin spice” flavored products out there don’t have any pumpkin in them — just spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. In my first few attempts, I wasn’t getting much flavor, and the cakes (cookies? muffin tops?) were coming out of the oven a brown-yellow, not orange like I wanted. So I upped the cinnamon to 1 tablespoon (It sounds like a lot but it has to be this way!) and mixed the spices into the liquid ingredients rather than the flour. This resulted in a deeper orange color and a more “pumpkin spice” flavor.
Why are the cakes pale when they come out of the oven?
By the way, the cookies (or are they cakes?) will look pale when they come out of the oven. Do not dismay! They are supposed to look like that, and within about an hour or two, they will develop a deeper brown-ish orange color you want.
Did you make these pumpkin whoopie pies? I want to see! Tag me @easygayoven on Instagram and TikTok.
3/4cupunsalted butterat room temperature (170 grams)
1/2cupgranulated sugar(110 grams)
3/4cuplightly packed dark brown sugar (light brown sugar works, too) (154 grams)
2large eggsat room temperature
2 3/4cupall-purpose flour(346 grams)
1 1/4teaspoonbaking powder
1/2cupwhole milk(120 milliliters)
1/4cupvegetable oil(60 milliliters)
1cuppumpkin purée (250 grams) (see note)
Cream cheese buttercream
1cupunsalted butterat room temperature (226 grams)
8ouncescream cheese or mascarponeat room temperature (do not use cream cheese spread)
1cuppowdered sugar(120 grams)
Preheat oven to 350° F
Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and spices.
In a glass measuring cup, add the milk, oil, vanilla, and pumpkin. Combine thoroughly.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugars on medium until, until the mixture is lighter in color and fluffy.
Add one egg to the butter mixture and beat on medium-low speed until totally combined. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl and repeat with the second egg.
With the mixer on low speed, add one-third of the dry ingredients into the butter mixture. After it fully incorporates, pour in half of the liquid mixture. After the liquid incorporates, repeat the process until everything has been combined, ensuring to end with the dry ingredients.
Do not over-mix. Turn the mixer off the moment the last bits of flour disappear. Then give it a stir, making sure to scrape the bottom and the sides for any unincorporated ingredients.
Using a 1/4-cup muffin or cookie scoop, portion out the batter, 6 per-sheet. Try to keep them as circular as possible, you can also use a spoon to help shape them.
Bake for 16 minutes, carefully switching and rotating the trays halfway through. You should see them slightly brown on the bottoms of the edges, and the tops spring back when gently touched. (They will look pale and not orange — don’t panic. They develop color as they sit.)
Let them cool on the sheets for 3 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Repeat with remaining batter.
For the buttercream
In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and powdered sugar until light in color and fluffy.
Add the cream cheese or mascarpone, as well as the vanilla, and beat until combined.
Scrape the bowl, then dump in the powdered sugar and a pinch of salt.
Beat the mixture at medium speed until it has all come together.
Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then turn the mixer to low and let it run for about three minutes. This will help rid the buttercream of air bubbles.
Using a piping bag with a circular tip, or a Ziploc bag with the corner cut out, top half of the whoopies, then sandwich them with the other halves. Enjoy!
(Note: For this recipe, I prefer the organic pumpkin puree brands from Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods, but traditional brands like Libby’s will still work.)
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