A million years ago when I lived in DC and was going through a really tough time in my life, I snuck away from my terrible situation and went to a photography exhibit of people on the morning of wonderful days in their lives... like the day after they learned they'd beat cancer or became parents. I'm pretty sure I recently saw a commercial for an insurance company who took the concept and featured people who had just retired. Don't worry, I'm getting to my point. This morning, I decided to take a photo of myself as I sat down to start writing--in my nightgown and my sweater with the little cherries on it. Although it's not a photo I'm ready to go public with, it's kinda lovely. I feel like I look 10 years younger and, although slightly terrified, I have a calmness that makes me wonder what I've been doing to myself these past few years. I'm not sure anyone else would even notice, because sometimes you have to be on the inside to actually truly know something. That brings me to these wonderful little American* baked treats.
See, the mystery behind the "Whoopie Pie" is not whether or not they were really invented by The Amish, or why they're the official baked treat of Maine, but this: why is it that you never see a photo of one that looks as delicious as the actual "pie"? I think it might just be one of those things you just have to live through to really understand, because unlike old-school caramel apples, it can be hard to see all the stuff inside that makes it special.
This recipe is particularity elusive. See, in this one golden-brown baked treat, you have sweet and slightly spiced apples, 'buttery' and salted caramel frosting, and roasted peanuts. Now it may seem weird to some to add salt to your sweets, but this is one of those food trends I have fallen madly in love with. If you are even slightly hesitant, you can ease into your salted treats with a Chocolove Almonds & Sea Salt in Dark Chocolate bar. They're my favorite.
But more chocolate later... let's make these treats with a silly name but the heart of gold!
|Still trying to figure out how to show you the awesome inside. Sigh.
Salted Caramel Apple Whoopie Pies
Spiced Apple Cookies
- 1/4 Cup Margarine (soft but not liquid)
- 1 Cup Brown Sugar
- 1 1/4 Cup Applesauce
- 1/2 teaspoon Vanilla
- 1/4 Cup Vegan Shortening
- 1 Cup Flour
- 1 Cup Whole Wheat Flour
- 1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon All Spice
- 1/4 teaspoon Ginger
- 1 teaspoon Baking Soda
- Baking Spray
Salted Caramel Frosting (this is really similar to The Caramel Frosting Dan made me for Valentine's Day)
- 1/2 Cup Margarine
- 1 cup Brown Sugar (packed)
- 1/2 teaspoon Sea Salt
- 1/4 Cup Vanilla Soy Milk
- 1 Cup Powdered Sugar (you may want to add more if you want a thicker frosting)
- 1/2 Cup Dry Roasted Peanuts
Heat oven to 375.
In a large bowl, blend Margarine, Brown Sugar, Applesauce, Vanilla and Shortening with a hand held electric mixer until smooth.
In another large bowl, mix Flour, Whole Wheat Flour, Cinnamon, All Spice and Ginger with a whisk until blended. Then add Margarine mix to the Flour Mix and blend with an electric mixer until smooth. You want to watch out for any clumps of Margarine. Then add the Baking Soda and blend on a medium speed for a little over 1 minute.
Spray your cookie sheet or if you're like us your whoopie pie pan with Baking Spray. Yes. I bought a pan for making whoopie pies. It was $10 and I feel OK about that. If you're not sure what a whoopie pie pan looks like, it is kinda like a combo of a cookie sheet and cupcake pan with much more shallow cups.
|The Whoopie Pie Pan
Fill your frosting gun or pastry bag with your Apple dough and if you are using a whoopie pie pan gently fill the cups 3/4 of the way. The Dough will expand when it cooks but you want to make sure you're cups are evenly filled.
If you are using a cookie sheet, still use the frosting gun or pastry page because it will give you nice smooth edges. Make even "coins" or cookies evenly spaced on your sheet. Don't go too big like monster cookie sized because like I said they get get bigger when you bake them. It's really important to try to keep all your cookies the same size and to have an even amount.
Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until they are golden brown. They are soft cookies so you don't want them too crispy. Let them cool on a wire rack with the bottom side down so you don't mess up the pretty side.
While your cookies are baking, make your frosting.
In a 2-quart saucepan, melt Margarine over a medium heat. Right at the point where it’s no longer solid (any longer and it’ll just turn into oil, and that’s no good), stir in Brown Sugar and Sea Salt. Heat the mixture to a boil, stirring constantly. Once the Sugar and Salt are melted, stir in the Soy Milk. Let it boil for about 1 minute while stirring constantly. Then remove from heat and let your Caramel sauce cool until it’s lukewarm, which should take about half an hour.
After it’s cooled to room temperature, gradually whisk in the Powdered Sugar. It’s important to add it a little at a time, stir it up, and repeat, until it’s all in there in a smooth mixture. If it’s too stiff, you can add in a little extra Soy Milk a few drops at a time or more powdered sugar if you want it thicker.
Crush your Peanuts with a masher and spread them out on your cutting board.
Once your cookies are room temperature, put your frosting in your frosting gun or pastry bag. Cover one cookie's underside with frosting and then put another cookie on top. Then gently press the cookies to make the frosting peak out. Then roll the cookies in the crushed Peanuts to cover the frosting. You can brush off the salt and peanut dust if you like your treats more polished... but I liked then ones with it on the most.
* Great baking song.