Posts tagged ‘spice’

October 7, 2011

Joy Of Pumper

Hello there, faithful followers!  I realize it’s been quite a while since I’ve last checked in, and I apologize.  I appreciate your bearing with me throughout this period of post-less-ness.  I’m pleased, however, to share with you Pumpercake’s latest guest blog entry on Joy Of Kosher!

The post and the recipe for my Sticky Fig Sweet Buns is currently being featured on Joy Of Kosher’s website as a special Yom Kippur Break Fast treat.  Drop on by and take a look at this and many other wonderful recipes at Joy Of Kosher.com!

July 13, 2011

Pumper Pasties

“He had never had any money for candy with the Dursleys, and now that he had pockets rattling with gold and silver he was ready to buy as many Mars Bars as he could carry — but the woman didn’t have Mars Bars. What she did have were Bettie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans, Drooble’s Best Blowing Gum, Chocolate Frogs. Pumpkin Pasties, Cauldron Cakes, Licorice Wands, and a number of other strange things Harry had never seen in his life. Not wanting to miss anything, he got some of everything and paid the woman eleven silver Sickles and seven bronze Knuts.

Ron stared as Harry brought it all back in to the compartment and tipped it onto an empty seat.

“Hungry, are you?”

“Starving,” said Harry, taking a large bite out of a pumpkin pasty.”

-Aboard the Hogwarts Express in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

Pumpkin pasties are a mutual favorite treat shared by Harry and many of his friends throughout the series. Ron, Hermione, Neville, Luna, and Ginny have all been known to snack on pasties once in a while. Here in the muggle world, Potter fans seem equally as fond of the handheld sweets, for when I started researching pumpkin pasty recipe ideas, I was overwhelmed with the amount of feedback I received. The only issue was, it seemed every reader had interpreted Pumpkin Pasties in a very similar way, as there were minimal variations in recipes. It was always a sweet, flaky pie-pocket filled with the same pumpkin pie filling.

While I’m sure these versions are delicious, I decided to go a different route.  I thought it might be interesting to do more of a Pumpkin Pastry, but still find a way to make it whimsical and fun.  In Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, there’s a time during holiday when Harry and Ron sat by the fire for hours on end, “eating anything they could spear on a toasting fork — bread, English muffins, [and] marshmallows. ” Naturally, I loved the idea of the two friends snacking on my favorite sweet, and I decided to incorporate the mallows. With that, the Pumpkin-Marshmallow Napoleon was born… although I think I’ve come up with a much better name for them:

Pumper “Pumpkin Pasty” Pastries

Inspired by: The Hogwarts Express Food Trolley’s “Pumpkin Pasties”

Adapted from Phyllo and Pumpkin Marshmallow Napoleons,” Baking Obsession

Caramel-Glaze Spiced Pastry Rounds

2 sheets frozen puff pastry, thawed

¼ cup granulated sugar

3 tablespoons brown sugar

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

¾ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon all spice

¼ teaspoon cinnamon

¼ teaspoon vanilla bean paste

–recipe yield:  about 24-30 disks,
about 8-10 assembled napoleons

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
On a lightly floured surface, unfold one sheet of thawed puff pastry.  Using a floured rolling pin, gently smooth out creases from folds and roll out puff pastry sheet to about 1/4 – 1/8-inch thickness.  Using a 2-3 -inch cookie cutter or a round glass, cut pastry into about 12-15 disks and place onto parchment-lined baking sheet.  Using a fork, prick a few holes into each disk.  Transfer to the refrigerator to chill for about 5 minutes.

In a saucepan over medium heat, dissolve granulated sugar in ¼ cup water, bring to a boil, and turn off heat.  Stir in brown sugar, butter, salt, spices, and vanilla, continuing to stir until butter has melted and the mixture has formed a warm glaze.  Use a pastry brush to paint a small amount of glaze onto one side of each chilled pastry disk, placing the painted disks back onto the lined baking sheet.  Cover the disks with another layer of parchment paper, and place another baking sheet directly on top of the paper to weigh down the disks as they bake.  Bake disks for 10 minutes before removing from oven and flipping.  Paint the glaze onto the opposite side of each half-baked pastry round, replace parchment paper covering and additional baking sheet cover, and then transfer back into the oven for an additional 10 minutes.  Repeat all instructions for the second sheet of puff pastry.  Allow rounds to cool completely on wire racks before assembling napoleons.  Pastry disks can be prepared ahead of time and stored in an airtight container.

Pumpkin-Marshmallow Filling

¼ cup cooked, pureed pumpkin

½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

¼ teaspoon cinnamon

¼ all spice

pinch ground ginger

1½ envelopes unflavored gelatin

½ cup cold water, divided

¾ cup granulated sugar

½ cup light corn syrup

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon vanilla bean paste

In a small bowl, stir together the pumpkin and spices until combined.  Set aside.  In a large glass mixing bowl, sprinkle gelatin into ¼ cup of cold water and let sit.  Have an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment standing by.

In a small saucepan, combine the remaining ¼ cup water, sugar, corn syrup, and salt.  Cover saucepan and place over medium-high heat for about 3 minutes before removing lid and attaching a candy thermometer to monitor the temperature of the syrup.  Let the syrup cook until it reaches 240 degrees (about 5-6 minutes), and then immediately remove it from heat.  With the mixer on a low speed, slowly pour the hot syrup into the gelatin mixture, allowing it to pour down the side of the bowl into the gelatin.  Once all the syrup has been added, increase the mixer speed to high and continue to whip the mixture until cools to lukewarm and becomes extremely thick, or about 12-15 minutes.  The vanilla bean paste can be added during the last minute of whipping.

Once the marshmallow mixture has been fully whipped, use a spatula to fold about ½ cup of the mallow into the pumpkin-spice mixture.  Then, pour the lightened pumpkin to the mixing bowl and fold it gently but thoroughly into the marshmallow.  Transfer the combined mixture into a pastry or zip-top bag fitted with a small, plain round pastry tip.

Assembly

Pipe 5-6 small dollops of pumpkin-marshmallow filling onto the surface of each pastry round.  Set aside 1/3 of the mallow-dolloped  pastry rounds.  Use a water-moistened finger to lightly flatten the tops of each of the dollops on the remaining 2/3 of the pastry rounds.  Let all pastry disks sit out, uncovered, for about an hour to allow the mallow filling to set.  Stack up two disks with flattened dollops and top with an un-flatted dolloped disk to complete each napoleon.  Serve, or store covered in an airtight container at room temperature.

June 7, 2011

Mango Peach Tart For A Sweet Summer Start

Salsa is one of those go-to snacks that’s fit to satisfy all year round.  With different levels of spice, heat, and sweet, and a seemingly endless number of flavor combinations to choose from, there’s bound to be a salsa for everyone.  Evan’s favorite salsa is the mango-peach salsa made by Garden Fresh, a brand originating from Ferndale, Michigan.  And no, I promise it’s not just the homegrown comfort of the salsa that makes it so appealing to us Michigan-natives.  It’s legitimately incredible salsa.  And it also happens to be my inspiration behind today’s recipe.

I decided, if salsa-makers can marry mangoes, peaches and peppers together in sweet-heat harmony, so can I.  I used jalapenos and poblanos along with a dash of red pepper flake and cayenne to add some zip to the tangy-sweet fruit and piled it all into a buttery, cake-y shell.  All tasters agreed that it could handle even more heat, so feel free to turn up the amount of peppers and spice.  Please don’t be put off by the idea of a somewhat spicy dessert… it really was delicious.  Those too timid to add the peppers should definitely still whip up a batch of the cayenne cream.  That whipped cream and a spoon could keep me happy all summer long.

Mango Peach Tart with Cayenne Whipped Cream

Inspired by: “Mango Peach Salsa” -Garden Fresh Gourmet

Adapted from Marco Canora’s “White Peach Tart,” Food & Wine
and 
“Easy Peach Preserves,” Delicious Living

2 large mangoes                                                   1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

4 medium peaches                                                1/3 tablespoon gelatin

½-1 tablespoon grated red jalapeno                    1 tart crust (recipe below)

½-1 tablespoon grated poblano peppers             ¼ cup heavy whipping cream

¼ teaspoon dried red pepper flake                       2 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar

¼ cup granulated sugar                                        1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

-recipe yield: 1 ten-inch tart

Peel and remove the core from both mangoes, then set one aside.  Chop one mango and two peaches (skin on) in a medium-small dice.  Transfer the diced fruit, grated peppers, pepper flakes, sugar and vinegar to a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over the stove, constantly stirring.  Continuing to stir periodically, reduce heat to medium-low and allow mixture to rapidly simmer for 5-7 minutes, or until fruit has somewhat broken down.  In a separate small bowl, sprinkle gelatin into ¼ cup cold water and let set for about 1 minutes. Then, add it to the fruit and allow it to heat, stirring it until the gelatin is completely dissolved (about 3 minutes).  Remove mixture from heat and allow to cool completely before using or covering and refrigerating.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Slice remaining mango and peaches into ¼-½ inch wedges and set aside.  Prepare tart crust dough (recipe below) and bring mango-peach gelatin mixture to room temperature.  If cold gelatin has solidified, stir with a fork and heat in the microwave for about 30 seconds, or until lukewarm and spreadable.  Spoon ¾-1 cup of mango-peach mixture into tart pan atop the dough and spread into an even layer, setting aside the remaining mixture to be used later.  Arrange mango slices into a large circle on top of the fruit mixture in the pan, and then peach slices on top of the mango slices.  Arrange fruit so that it is slightly overlapping.  Place smaller fruit slices in the center portion of the tart. Place tart into the oven for about 20 minutes.  Remove the tart and, using a pastry brush, brush a bit of the liquid from the gelatin mixture onto the exposed fruit slices on the tart.  Place the tart back into the oven and allow to bake another 25-30 minutes, or until the crust is puffed and golden and the fruit is tender.  Allow tart to rest for at least 30 minutes, or until completely cooled, before slicing and serving.

To prepare the cream, place chilled whipping cream into a medium bowl and beat until soft peaks have been achieved.  Beat in the confectioner’s sugar and cayenne pepper until it’s reached stiff peaks.  Serve on top of or alongside tart slices.

Tart Crust

1½ cups all-purpose flour           ½ teaspoon salt

¼ cup granulated sugar              ½ teaspoon lemon zest

½ teaspoon baking powder        1 egg, plus 1 egg yolk

7 tablespoons unsalted butter

In a food processor, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, softened butter, salt, and lemon zest . Pulse ingredients until combined.  Add in egg and egg yolk and process until a soft dough forms.  Remove dough from the processor onto a clean surface and knead until it just comes together. Press dough into the bottom and up the sides of a 10-inch tart pan with removable bottom.

Tags: , , ,
May 9, 2011

Turkish Java & Molten Lava

This past Holiday season, upon opening a Christmas card from a family that I’d gotten to know shortly after moving to the area, I was surprised to discover a gift card to their favorite place to get Middle Eastern food.  When Evan and I visited the little Lebanese restaurant, we were very strategic in placing our appetizer and entree orders and made sure to leave room for a dessert selection as well.  On impulse, I decided on a chocolate molten lava cake, mainly because the menu described it as being served alongside homemade  marshmallow cream.  Little did I know, although the pair was absolutely delicious, it was neither the lava cake, nor my beloved marshmallow fluff that would turn out to be the star of the dessert (as well as the entire dinner experience).  There was another component to this little dessert trio, and that was a dollop of an unbelievable pistachio and orange ice cream.  Sounds strange, a chocolate “Turkish Coffee” cake served alongside marshmallow, pistachio and orange flavors, I know.  But, when gathered onto one spoon, the combination of the different flavors, textures, and temperatures seemed as deliciously obvious as a pairing of spaghetti and meatballs.

This unforgettable dessert has very frequently been the topic of conversation between Evan and I since our visit to that restaurant.  Clearly, I had to recreate this dish, but very delicately.  There was no way I was going to tweak any of the perfect flavors in the slightest degree and risk compromising the divinity of this dessert.  I decided, instead, to deconstruct the assembly of the cake.  The result is what I’m calling a “semifreddo lava cake,” composed of a rich, spiced chocolate sheet cake wrapped around a pistachio-orange semifreddo creme.  The “hot lava” took the form of a hot-fudge sauce and was drizzled atop the dessert, and with the obvious inclusion of my favorite marshmallow frosting, the reconstructed dish was complete and just as euphoric as we’d remembered it the first time.

Semifreddo Lava Cake

Inspired by: “Molten Chocolate ‘Turkish Coffee’ Cake”

-Lebanese Taverna (Arlington, VA)

Mocha-Spice Sheet Cake

Adapted from “Mocha Cake,” Gourmet – August 2009

Rich and chocolate-y with a subtle hint of coffee and spice, this flourless cake stays fluffy, moist and soft when frozen… perfect for a semifreddo dessert.

8 ounces bittersweet chocolate

3 teaspoons  espresso powder

6 eggs, separated

½ cup granulated sugar, separated

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon ground cardamom

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and butter and line a 13×9 inch pan.  Prepare a double boiler fitted with a small glass bowl to melt the chocolate.  Before turning on the heat under the double boiler, dissolve the espresso powder by stirring it into 3 tablespoon of hot water.  Once dissolved, strain the espresso into to bowl of chocolate, turn on the heat, and melt the chocolate together with the espresso.  Once almost completely melted, remove bowl from heat, stir to melt completely, and set aside to cool.

In a large bowl, beat together the egg yolks, ¼ cup of the sugar, the salt and the cardamom until the mixture is pale yellow and thick, about 8 minutes.  Beat in the cooled chocolate.  In a separate bowl, beat the room temperature egg whites until they’ve reached soft peaks, gradually add in the remaining ¼ cup of sugar and continue to beat until the meringue just creates stiff peaks.  Gradually and gently fold the egg whites in small batches into the chocolate mixture.

Spread the batter as evenly as possibly (without deflating it) into the prepared pan and bake for 12-14 minutes, or until it has puffed and is dry and springy to the touch.  Transfer the pan to a wire rack and cover the cake with two layers of damp paper towel.  Let the covered cake rest for about 3 minutes, remove the towel (allowing the crispy top layer to peel away with it), and allow the cake to cool completely in the pan.  Once the cake has completely cooled, loosen the edges of the cake with a knife and invert onto a large cutting board or sheet pan that has been lined with parchment paper.  Transfer the cake (still covered with parchment atop the cutting board) to the freezer for 2-3 hours for easy slicing and assembly.

Pistachio-Orange Semifreddo

Adapted from Tim Nugent’s “Pistachio Semifreddo,” Top Chef

This semifreddo is simply divine and can stand alone as a truly delectable dessert.  The flavors are amazing, but it’s the texture that makes this semifreddo so special.  Make sure to whip each layer of ingredients carefully as directed and fold as gently as possible for a beautiful, airy-light finish.

4 eggs, separated                               1 cup heavy whipping cream

½ cup superfine sugar, separated       zest from half an orange

1/3 cup pistachio paste*                      1 tablespoon fresh orange juice

Prepare a double boiler fitted with a large glass bowl and, over medium-low heat, whip together the egg yolks and ¼ of the caster sugar.  Continue to whip on a high speed until as much volume as possible has been achieved, about 5-8 minutes.  At this point, remove from heat and, while still warm, add the pistachio paste and gently swirl it into the yolk mixture.  Set bowl aside to cool.

In a large bowl, whip the room temperature egg whites until they’ve reached soft peaks.  Gradually add in the remaining superfine sugar and continue to beat until stiff peaks have been achieved.  In small batches, gradually fold the stiffened egg white meringue gently into the yolk-pistachio mixture.  In a separate bowl, beat the cold whipping cream to soft peaks, add in the orange zest and juice, and continue to whip slightly until they’ve reached medium-stiff peaks (do not over-whip or the cream can turn into butter).  In gradual batches, gently fold the whipped orange cream into the fluffy pistachio mixture.  Once the semifreddo base has been combined and poured into properly lined pan (as directed below), allow to freeze overnight before serving.

*I made my own pistachio paste for this dessert, but it actually ended up being quite a bit of work and not as easy as the recipe makes it seem.  I would suggest just purchasing some pre-made pistachio paste and adjusting the amount of sugar in the semifreddo accordingly, as it may not be quite as sweet as my homemade paste turned out.

Hot Lava Fudge

Adapted from the Old Occidental Hotel’s “Hot Fudge Sauce,”  -Muskegon, Michigan

1 cup superfine sugar          1/3 cup cocoa powder          2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 tablespoons flour              1 cup milk                             1 teaspoon vanilla extract

-recipe yield:  1 ¾ cups sauce

In a small bowl, whisk together the sugar, flour and unsweetened cocoa powder.  In a heavy bottomed saucepan over medium heat, combine and stir together the milk, butter and vanilla just until the butter has melted.  Add in the dry ingredients to the milk mixture, constantly whisking.  Bring mixture to a boil, stirring constantly, until thick and smooth, about 5 minutes.  Remove from stove and transfer to serving cup or gravy-boat to allow to cool.  Refrigerate unused portion.   Leftovers be reheated in a double-boiler or microwave as needed.

For the marshmallow fluff, make a half-batch of my favorite marshmallow frosting recipe.

Assembly:

Once the sheet cake has chilled in the freezer, remove it and peel back the top layer of parchment paper.  Using a large loaf pan as a guide, trace onto the removed parchment paper the shape of the top, bottom, and two longest sides of the loaf pan.  Cut the shapes out of the parchment paper and arrange them on top of the sheet cake.  Using a sharp paring knife, slice the cake in the shapes of each of the parchment paper to (eventually) fit along the inside of the loaf pan.

Line the large loaf pan with two large pieces of parchment paper, allowing the paper to drape outside of the pan, creating “tabs” that can eventually be pulled up to remove the dessert from the pan.  Handling the cake very gingerly, place into the bottom of the lined loaf pan the slice of cake that fits accordingly and gently press it so that it’s lying across the entire bottom of the pan.  Place both long side pieces of cake into the lined loaf pan along the matching sides and gently press.  Pour the semifreddo base into the cake-lined loaf pan and cover the semifreddo with the final slice of cake fitting the very top of the loaf pan.  If the semifreddo doesn’t reach the top of the pan, slice this piece of cake to fit into the pan atop the semifreddo accordingly.  Cover the loaf pan with plastic wrap and allow assembled dessert to freeze overnight.
To serve, remove the dessert from the freezer and lift the parchment tabs to loosen the dessert from the loaf pan.  Place plate or serving tray on top of loaf pan and flip to invert the dessert onto server.  Peel back the parchment paper.  Cut dessert into slices, drizzle the hot fudge, and spoon a dollop of marshmallow fluff on or next to the dessert or slices.  Serve immediately.

April 5, 2011

Whoopie! for Carrot Cake Creme Pies

As a huge ‘Food Network’ fan, I often find myself daydreaming about what I’d do with the secret ingredient on Iron Chef: America or what kind of witty yet soul-crushing critique Geoffrey Zakarian might give me should I find myself competing on Chopped.  And I’ve thought long and hard about what I’d select as my favorite dish on Best Thing I Ever Ate.

Well, I found my answer a couple months ago when I first visited this cute little lounge a few blocks away from my apartment just outside Washington, DC.  I went for a late-morning Saturday brunch, and needless to say, have been back almost every Saturday since my first visit.  It’s getting embarrassing.  The waitress knows my name and I think my body is starting to become conditioned to crave brunch food from their menu come Saturday morning (or earlier in the week).  They make a rosemary waffle with silky poached egg and wild mushroom, crème’ fraiche topping, and it is the Best Thing I Ever Ate.  Having the ever-persistent sweet tooth that I do, it seems odd that my all-time favorite dish be a savory one.  Therefore, I’ve allowed myself a second favorite for those (much more frequent) days in which I find myself craving something sweet.  Luckily, this little lounge has created a stuffed French toast that is nothing short of a masterpiece.  Sweet and refreshing orange cream cheese filling oozes from thick cut, crispy brioche that is warmly spiced to perfection.

This French toast was my inspiration behind today’s recipe.  I did my best to recreate the orange filling and then sweetened it up a touch to resemble the marshmallow-y frosting found in the middle of whoopie pies.  I used a cookie recipe as a base and altered it to make it a little more cake-like, yet still dense enough to hold its shape and the filling.  I chose to go with a carrot cake theme, as I knew the sweet carrots could stand up to the many different spices I imagined the brioche being dredged in to make the French toast.  Also, I found myself with an abundance of carrots that I needed to do something with.  But let’s go with the first reason.

And here is the result!  It’s the oatmeal creme pie your mom used to pack in your lunch box meets carrot cake meets my favorite brunch-time treat:

Carrot Cake Whoopie Pies

Inspired by: “Stuffed French Toast”

–Eleventh Street Lounge (Arlington, VA)



Carrot Cake Cookies

-adapted from Martha Stewart’s “Carrot Cookies”

½ pound (2 sticks) of unsalted butter, softened

¾ cup granulated sugar

1 cup brown sugar

2 large eggs, room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 ¾ cups all purpose flour*

½ cup whole wheat flour*

¼ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon ground clove

¼ teaspoon allspice

¼ teaspoon ground ginger

2 cups quick cooking oats

1 ½ cup finely grated carrot (about 5 medium or 3 large carrots)

1 ¼ cup golden raisins (red raisins work fine, too!)

Peel and grate the carrots using the finest side of a box grater, and then set aside.

Spread your raisins out on a large cutting board and give them a rough chop.**  This can turn into quite the sticky situation.  After the raisins are roughly chopped, I like to throw them in a medium bowl, and then spin them through the measured dry oats, coating the raisins completely.  I do this for two reasons: 1) As the oats are covering the raisins, they naturally break apart any sticky raisin-clumps that may have formed, and 2) this dry coating really helps keep the dense raisins suspended in the cookie as they bake, as opposed to sinking to the bottom of the cookie and burning.

In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugars with an electric mixture until fluffy (3-4 minutes). Add eggs one at a time, vanilla, and carrots, beating on medium speed until combined.  Set aside.

Sift together flours, salt, baking powder and soda, and spices.  Stir to combine.  Gradually add flour mixture to carrot mixture on lowest speed until just blended.  Stir in raisins and oats.

At this point, it’s important to cover and chill the dough in the refrigerator for at least an hour in order to let the dough firm up.  This will ensure that the cookies will hold their shape in the oven.  Room temperature dough will cause the cookies to spread out too much and you’ll end up with flimsy whoopie pies. Which will still taste delicious, of course, but will make a giant mess when attempting to eat or handle.

Using a medium sized ice cream scoop, scoop out balls of dough spaced a couple inches apart onto cookie sheets lined with parchment paper.  Bake cookies for about 12-15 minutes at 350′, rotating sheets halfway through baking in order to ensure even color.  Transfer baked cookies to wire racks and allow to cool before handling or assembly.

Orange Cream Cheese Filling

The tangy sweetness of this frosting can work harmoniously with many different kinds of cakes or cookies.  It also makes a delicious dip for fruit!

5 ounces of cream cheese, softened

¼ pound of unsalted butter (1 stick), softened

2 cups powdered sugar

3 tablespoons fresh orange juice

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

2 ½ tablespoons of orange zest

about ¼-½ inch of fresh ginger root, finely chopped

1/8 teaspoon of ground cinnamon

a pinch of ground nutmeg

-optional: chopped pecans, flaked coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)

Using an electric mixer, cream together cheese and butter in a large bowl until the mixture is homogeneous.  Gradually add powdered sugar, scraping down the sides of the bowl throughout mixing.  Continue to cream together the mixture until fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Add orange and vanilla extract, zest, ginger and spices and continue to beat until well incorporated.

Transfer filling to pastry or zip-lock bag, if desired.  Refrigerate filling before pie assembly to allow it to set up and maintain stiffness.

Assembly:

Once cake-cookies have cooled completely and filling as set up in the fridge, it is time for assembly.  If you’re a control-freak perfectionist about your confectionaries, like me, the first step will be to pair up each like-sized cookie with its mate in order for the prettiest finished product.  If you’re using a pastry bag, squeeze out a small ring of filling right in the center of the bottom of half of the cookies, being careful not to get filling too close to the outer edge of the cookie.  If you’re not using a pastry bag, you can just as easily use a small cookie-dough scoop or melon-ball scoop to drop a couple tablespoons of filling in the center of half of the cookies.  Press remaining cookies on top of frosted cookies, pressing down so that the filling reaches the outer edge of cookie-sandwich and is visible.

If desired, roll the assembled pies through chopped pecans or flaked coconut so that the exposed filling picks up the topping.  With your fingers, press pecans or coconut lightly into the filling.

Whoopie pies should be stacked in between layers of parchment paper and stored in an air-tight container in the refrigerator up until ready to serve.  Also freezes well.

*If you’re choosing to make a batch of carrot cake cookies by themselves, as opposed to the whoopie pies, go ahead and cut back to only 2 cups of flour total (instead of 2 ¼ cups total).  This can mean using only whole wheat or only all purpose flour, or your choice of a mixture of both.  I like the depth of flavor and texture that this mixture gives, and the whole wheat flour can definitely stand up to all the spice!
**This is another step you can skip if you’re going the “cookie-only” route.  Although, in this case, re-hydrating the raisins is a great idea.  To do this, soak the whole raisins in some hot water for about 5-8 minutes or until they’ve plumped up, then drain them and pat dry with a towel, breaking up with your fingers any raisins stuck together.  Better yet, add a tiny splash of rum or rum extract to the water to give the raisins a little kick!