Sink your teeth into these moist pumpkin cake layers with bourbon cream cheese filling and chopped bits of candied pecans around the edge of the filling. Made these for our Bunco group, and they were a hit! Definitely suggest the make-ahead tips.
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
15 oz can pure pumpkin (not pie filling)
1 large egg
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 Tbsp packed light brown sugar
Pinch of salt
1/2 Tbsp water
1/2 cup chopped pecans
6 oz cream cheese, softened
3/4 stick (6 Tbsp) unsalted butter, softened
Pinch of salt
1-1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 Tbsp bourbon (optional; substitute 1 tsp vanilla extract)
- Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Whisk together flour, baking powder, soda, salt, and spices in a bowl.
- Whisk together sugar, oil, pumpkin, egg, and vanilla in a separate large bowl until well combined, then stir in flour mixture.
- Using a 1-ounce ice cream scoop (I used the Pampered Chef Medium Scoop), drop onto a lined baking sheet to form 1 mound. Make 15 more mounds, arranging them 2 inches apart until baking sheet is full (you will have batter left over).
- Bake until springy to the touch, 12 to 18 minutes. Transfer cookie-cakes to rack to cool.
- Form and bake remaining batter on the other parchment-lined sheet. You should have a total of 32 cookie-cakes.
- Leave oven on.
For candied pecans:
- Line a small sheet pan with parchment paper.
- Stir together sugar, salt, and 1/2 tablespoon water in a small saucepan. Heat over moderate heat until sugar dissolves, then bring to a boil. Stir in pecans.
- Spread mixture on lined sheet pan and bake until coating is bubbling and golden brown, about 10 minutes.
- Cool completely on pan on a rack.
- While cookie-cakes are baking, beat cream cheese, butter, and salt in a bowl with an electric mixer until smooth. Add confectioners’ sugar and bourbon and mix on low speed until smooth.
- Chill filling until firm enough to hold its shape when spread, 30 minutes to 1 hour.
Assemble whoopie pies:
- Spread 1 heaping tablespoon of filling each on flat side of half the cooled cookie-cakes (tip: add filling to 16 cookies before topping them so you can add frosting if needed). Top with other half of cookie-cakes. If necessary, chill whoopie pies just long enough to firm up filling again, about 30 minutes.
- Gently press pecans onto filling around middle of each whoopie pie to help them adhere to filling.
make ahead tips
- If you want perfectly round cakes, a 1-ounce ice cream scoop is a worthwhile investment, because you can use it for so many other baking projects, in addition to ice cream.
- Cookie-cakes can be baked 1 day ahead, and kept on racks at room temperature, covered with a kitchen towel.
- Filling can be made 1 day ahead, and chilled, covered.
- Pecans can be candied 3 days ahead and kept in an airtight container at room temperature.
16 sandwich cookies