These super cute pumpkin whoopie pies with cream cheese filling are made with little pumpkin spice cakes and filled with a brown butter cream cheese frosting. These whoopie pies make a great pumpkin dessert for Thanksgiving for people who don't like pumpkin pie!
If you would like to explore more recipes for baking with pumpkin, order your copy of the e-book All About Pumpkin so you can celebrate this star ingredient!
Whoopie pies. It's about time! For months, I read about people's love for whoopie pies, all the while wondering what could possibly be so special about them.
What is a whoopie pie?
It turns out that whoopie pies are nothing but frosting sandwiched between two little cakes. In fact, whoopie pies used to be made to use up leftover cake batter so it wouldn't go to waste. The term whoopie pie comes from when kids would scream "whoopie!" whenever they were surprised with these little cake sandwiches in their lunches or after school. The most common whoopie pie is chocolate, but these pumpkin whoopie pies are gaining in popularity, especially around Thanksgiving and Halloween in North America.
What kind of filling is used for whoopie pies
Whoopie pies are really simple to make, and with the right filling, they are quite special and a lot of fun. The filling can be any thick frosting, like this cream cheese frosting, or in this case, a brown butter-flavoured cream cheese frosting, which adds pretty golden brown flecks to the filling. Around Christmas time, you can make a candy cane frosting and garnish with crushed mints. Really, any frosting made from butter and icing sugar will work. If you want a more sophisticated filling, you could even try an Italian meringue buttercream.
Since fall is here to stay, my first batch of whoopie pies was inspired by a Wilton "Harvest" whoopie pie pan (available on Amazon) and their easy recipe for pumpkin spice whoopie pies. I added some ground ginger to add a little more zip to the cake batter. If you want to make them with homemade pumpkin purée, make sure to strain out the excess water because homemade pumpkin tends to be more watery.
I changed the frosting recipe slightly, adding in a little extra powdered sugar and substituting some brown butter for some of the cream cheese. The nuttiness of the brown butter is great in a cream cheese frosting like this one and the nutty aroma and flavor really come through since the frosting is not too sweet. I am madly in love with this frosting.
For the frosting, be sure to use Philadelphia full-fat cream cheese because the no-name brands just don't compare. In fact, I made two batches of this cream cheese frosting, one with Philly cream cheese and the other with my local grocery store's brand of cream cheese. The Philadelphia cream cheese produced the tastiest filling, but what was most shocking was the texture: the grocery store brand had an almost powdery feel to it and gave the frosting an almost grainy (unpleasant!) texture. The frosting made with Philadelphia cream cheese was much, much creamier, and really quite dreamy! (NB: Kraft did not pay me to write that).
If you're on the fence about whoopie pies, you should give them a try. They are a welcome change in a cupcake-dominated world. But if you don't have a whoopie pie pan, don't let that stop you! Bake small scoop-fulls of the batter on a parchment-lined baking sheet or use a muffin pan (like this one on Amazon) for perfectly round little cakes.
Pumpkin spice whoopie pies with brown butter cream cheese frosting
For the whoopie pies
- 188 grams (1¾ cups) bleached all-purpose flour
- 5 mL (1 teaspoon) baking soda
- 2.5 mL (½ teaspoon) baking powder
- 2.5 mL (½ teaspoon) Diamond Crystal fine kosher salt
- 5 mL (1 teaspoon) ground cinnamon
- 1.25 mL (¼ teaspoon) ground nutmeg
- 1.25 mL (¼ teaspoon) ground ginger
- 0.625 mL (⅛ teaspoon) ground cloves
- 58 grams (¼ cup) unsalted butter
- 200 grams (1 cup) granulated sugar
- 2 large egg(s) room temperature
- 125 mL (½ cup) pumpkin purée or strained homemade pumpkin purée
- 125 mL (½ cup) buttermilk (1 % fat)
For the brown butter cream cheese filling
- 58 grams (¼ cup) unsalted butter
- 90 grams (¾ cup) icing sugar sifted
- 200 grams (7 oz) Philadelphia cream cheese (full fat, regular) 200 grams, almost an entire block, room temperature
Make the whoopie pie cakes:
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray the whoopie pie pan with cooking spray. Set aside for later.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves. Set aside.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and the sugar for about 5 minutes.
- Add the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed with a spatula.
- In another small bowl, combine the pumpkin and buttermilk.
- To the mixer, add the flour mixture and the pumpkin mixture, alternately, beginning and ending with the flour.
- Fill each whoopie pie mold no more than half full, spreading the mixture into all the nooks and crannies.
- Bake for 7 to 10 minutes (I baked some longer than others so that the whoopie pies were all different golden browns, just like fall leaves and pumpkins).
- Let the whoopie pies cool for 5 minutes in the pan, then tap them out onto a rack to cool completely before filling.
To make the filling:
- Begin by browning the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat until the milk solids turn a nutty brown. Set aside to cool.
- Beat together the cream cheese and the cooled brown butter (be sure to add all those nutty brown bits!) in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.
- With the mixer on low, slowly add the icing sugar. Beat until the desired consistency and level of sweetness is achieved.
- Spread the filling on one cake and sandwich with another. Repeat to assemble remaining whoopie pies.