I never feel as if there are enough hours in the day to accomplish everything on my to-do list. Inevitably, I end up carrying a few things over to the next day's list, and the vicious cycle repeats itself. (Please tell me I'm not the only one who feels that way...) If I could figure out a way to squeeze additional hours into the day, one of the things I'd love to do is spend more time browsing other food blogs. In the past month alone I've discovered scores of gorgeous, inspiring blogs I want to add to my daily reading, but unfortunately, I know it's just not feasible. The other day, though, when I was procrastinating on the work that needed to be done to file our taxes, I did spend a few minutes over on Tessa's site, Handle the Heat. I just found her last month, and I am so glad I did; she's only 19 and so crazy talented it's hard to believe.
I bookmarked several recipes on Tessa's site, but the one I wanted to make immediately was her Nutella buttercream frosting. What can I say, I've been on a Nutella kick since making the Nutella marshmallow turnovers a few weeks ago :) I wasn't really in the mood to make cupcakes though, so I decided instead to use the Nutella buttercream frosting as a filling for vanilla bean whoopie pies. I'd been meaning to try a recipe from the whoopie pies book I picked up a few months ago and this gave me that opportunity. The frosting didn't disappoint - it's smooth, creamy and really delicious. Plus, it couldn't be easier to throw together, which always scores points in my book. The vanilla bean cookies were good too, but definitely served as a vehicle for the Nutella frosting more than anything else. If you're a Nutella lover, you'll definitely want to give this frosting a try!
Vanilla Bean Whoopie Pies
from Whoopie Pies by Sarah Billingsley and Amy Treadwell
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 tablespoons vegetable shortening
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
2 tablespoons milk, at room temperature
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon white vinegar
seeds from 1 vanilla bean (or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract)
Preheat oven to 375 F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder and salt together. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, shortening and both sugars on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. Add the eggs and buttermilk and beat until combined (your batter may look curdled - mine definitely did, but it came together when I added the flour).
Combine the milk, baking soda, and vinegar in a small measuring cup. With the mixer on low add half of the flour mixture, followed by the milk mixture and then the rest of the flour mixture. Beat just until everything is combined. Add the seeds from the vanilla bean and beat for another minute, until everything is completely combined.
Using a small cookie scoop, drop the dough onto the prepared baking sheets, leaving about 2 inches of space between cookies. Bake the cookies, one sheet at a time, for 8-10 minutes, or until they are set and just beginning to brown. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
Prepare the filling with the recipe below. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a plain round tip with the Nutella buttercream. Once the cookies are cool, pair them by size. Pipe some of the buttercream on the flat side of one cookie in each pair. Sandwich the whoopie pies together, pressing to nudge the filling to the edges.
from Handle the Heat
3/4 cup (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup Nutella
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon milk
1 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and Nutella together until combined. Add the vanilla, milk and confectioners' sugar to the mixer bowl and beat on low speed until the powdered sugar is just about incorporated. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat until the frosting is smooth.
Note: Yield will depend on the size of your cookie sandwiches - I halved the recipe and ended up with 12 sandwiches - my cookies were about 3 inches in diameter.