Food is often equated with or can provoke both strong positive and negative memories. During the fall, as the weather cools and the leaves change color and fall to the ground, I think back fondly to my time in Pittsburgh when I was in library school. I loved the fall there. I can remember getting in my little kitchen and cooking my first ever Thanksgiving dinner. I remember hunched over a fingerprint covered copy of that month's Food and Wine magazine, meticulously following the recipe for three elaborate dishes that I would serve only to myself. I wasn't much of a foodie then, or even that creative of a cook, but I had my moments of brilliance.
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One of the things that I discovered while in Pittsburgh (food wise) that I had never heard of, other than Fluffernutters and Salads and Sandwiches topped with handfuls of fries, were whoopie pies. According to Wikipedia: whoopie pie (alternatively called a gob, black-and-white, or bob) is a baked good made of two round mound-shaped pieces of chocolate cake, sometimes pumpkin cake, with a sweet, creamy frosting sandwiched between them. While considered a New England phenomenon and a Pennsylvania Amish tradition, they are increasingly sold throughout the United States. According to food historians, Amish women would bake these and put them in farmers' lunchboxes. When farmers would find these treats in their lunch, they would shout "Whoopie!"
Once I left Pittsburgh, I didn't see these delicious treats again. Until, that is, I visited Vermont for the Vermont 50miler. As the description indicates, it is also a New England phenomenon and when my friend Glen was eating at the pre-race dinner the night before the race, he came back to the table with three desserts. One of which was a pumpkin whoopie pie. I was instantly lost in a memory of cool, crisp Pittsburgh fall evenings and the comfort of a pumpkin whoopie pie and a cup of tea, nestled down on my couch. I hadn't thought about that time in my life for a while. And, I began seriously craving a pumpkin whoopie pie.
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After I finally got home from my trip to Vermont & NYC, I decided to start testing a recipe for a gluten free/ egg free/soy free version of the pumpkin whoopie pie. While I would have loved to stuck with the Amish tradition of using eggs and normal flour, I simply cannot eat those things and so what would be the point of having my cake but not being able to eat it too?!?!
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I was quite pleasantly surprised at my first go-round with these. Their texture was absolutely spot on. Very light and fluffy, which is saying something considering gluten free flour usually does not lend itself to that. The frosting turned out creamy and dreamy once whipped the heck out of it the blender and then let it hang out in the fridge to tighten up. I took these pictures before I did that, thankfully I only frosted one "show" whoppie pie. Ok, let's be honest, I couldn't hardly wait so I made one I could gobble pretty immediately. It was brilliant! The frosting was not to heavy or sugary. The cakes were not heavy and not super sweet either. Admittedly, I had a second one once I let everything really cool and setup and it was out of sight. I love it when things get better with time.
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Today is a very crappy day. The bay is being slammed with bad weather, but these GF Pumpkin Whoopie Pies give me a sense of comfort and security no matter how hard the rain falls and the wind blows. I am comforted by the taste that floods my mouth with each nibble, but even more than that, I am comforted by the memories that are evoked in my mind and wrap my spirit in a sense of calm and coziness.
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Gluten Free Pumpkin Whoopie Pies
1 cup butter
2 cups brown sugar
2 serving eggs replacer, equivalent to 2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 ½ cups bobs red mill gluten free flour mix
¾ tsp guar gum
1 ½ tsp baking powder
1 ½ tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 ½ cups pumpkin puree
¼ cup coconut flour
¾ cup almond milk
¾ cup butter
2 ½ cups confectioners sugar
3 ½ tsp vanilla extract
For the cakes:
Preheat the oven to 400 F and cover baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and brown sugar. Prepare the egg replacer and add to the butter/sugar mixture. Beat well and add vanilla.
In a separate bowl, combine flour, guar gum, baking soda and powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg. Add flour mixture to butter/sugar alternating adding the pumpkin puree. Mix well until smooth.
Drop rounded spoonfuls onto baking sheets leaving plenty of room for the cakes to spread out as they cook. Bake for 11-12 minutes until the spring back when lightly pressed. Cool completely and then frost and top with another cake. Wrap each whoopie pie individually in plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator.
For the filling:
In a saucepan over medium heat whisk the flour and salt with the almond milk until the mixture is smooth and starts to thicken. Cool in the refrigerator.
In a blender meanwhile, cream butter and confectioner's sugar and vanilla. Add the cooled milk mixture and blend until the filling thickens. Taste and add more sugar if more desired sweetness. Refrigerate for 20-30 minutes until cool and thick before frosting.