I know there are a lot of mixed feelings out there about Valentine's Day, but I happen to think it's a fun holiday. It's a low stress day here - no expensive gifts or fancy dinners out - just a nice homemade meal and some quality time together. Oh, and candy! I love Valentine's Day candy, especially those Reese's Hearts :) I haven't decided what I'm making for dinner or dessert yet, but I generally try to come up with something a little more special than our typical meals, maybe with an ingredient we wouldn't normally splurge on. I'll let you know what we end up doing. In the meantime, between now and Monday I'll be sharing a few Valentine's Day recipes in case you're looking for ideas.
I saw these adorable heart-shaped red velvet whoopie pies over on Annie's site last year and have basically been itching to make them ever since. I put them off until Valentine's Day approached because they really couldn't be more appropriate for this holiday. Adorable red heart-shaped cookies sandwiched around irresistible cream cheese frosting - if there's a red velvet lover in your life, I think these would be the perfect way to say Happy Valentine's Day! Even Shane, who claims not to like cream cheese frosting, happily gobbled several of these whoopie pies for dessert the night I baked them. I used Annie's technique to create the heart shapes, but you could definitely make round cookies if you wanted to keep things simple. Regardless of the shape you select, be sure to follow the suggestion to pipe (or spoon) the batter about 1/2-inch high. I learned the hard way (on my first batch) that if you don't your cookies will be flat and not nearly as soft and cakey.
Red Velvet Whoopie Pies
cookies from Better Homes & Gardens, via Annie's Eats
frosting from The Gourmet Cookbook, via Confections of a Foodie Bride & Annie's Eats
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons natural cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
red food coloring
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
Preheat oven to 375 F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt together. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then add the egg and vanilla, beating to combine. With the mixer on low speed, alternately add flour mixture and buttermilk, beginning and ending with the flour mixture, beating just until incorporated. Add the food coloring a little at a time until you achieve your desired color for the whoopie pies.
Pipe (or spoon) batter in 1-inch rounds, about 1/2-inch high on prepared baking sheets, leaving about 1 inch of space between each round. (Alternatively, you can pipe heart-shaped cookies - see Annie's photos and instructions linked above.) Bake 7-9 minutes, or until the tops of the cookies are set. Cool the cookies on the baking sheets for a few minutes then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.
To make the cream cheese frosting, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment beat the cream cheese and butter on medium-high speed until well combined and smooth, about 2-3 minutes. Add the vanilla extract and mix to combine. Gradually add the confectioners’ sugar, stopping to scrape the sides of the bowl occasionally. When all of the sugar has been incorporated, increase the speed of the mixer and beat briefly until smooth.
Match the cookies by size as best you can to make pairs. Pipe the frosting on the flat side of one of the cookies in each pair. Sandwich the cookies together and press gently until the filling reaches the edges.
Makes about 20 whoopie pies (depending on size)