Saturday, January 28, 2012

Vegan Chocolate Peanut Butter Whoopie Pies

I'm not sure you can say you're from Pennsylvania if you've never had a whoopie pie from a local farm stand. There they sit, next to the tomatoes and summer squash, surrounded by zucchini bread and peach pie. You tell yourself, "I don't need that," and yet you know it was baked and individually wrapped just for you.

Germantown Farmers Market

Often a pie (accidentally) makes its way into my market bag. Chocolate cake with marshmallow filling is the standard whoopie pie, but I prefer pumpkin (There aren't many pumpkin-flavored desserts that I don't like). Personal-sized desserts are my favorite: No sharing required and no evidence remains of your indulgence. But the truth is, I don't really love the super sweet, traditional marshmallow fluff-shortening filling. After all, what about that combination sounds appetizing?

These chocolate peanut butter whoopie pies, on the other hand, are delicious. The cakes bake up moist and fluffy, and are filled with a yummy, not-too-sweet, not-too-rich buttercream. You will quickly forget that these are vegan!

Makin' whoopie: Earth Balance, flaxseed, and soy milk take the place of the dairy and eggs of a traditional whoopie pie recipe. Earth Balance is an all-natural "buttery" spread that comes in a couple varieties, both in tubs and sticks. I prefer to use the organic tubs, but any version should be fine.

There are a number of egg-replacement products out there, but if you won't be baking a lot of vegan desserts, save your money. Believe it or not, flax seed and water can take the place of eggs in many recipes. Use this simple trick: For each egg, whisk 1 tablespoon of finely-ground flax seed in 3-4 tablespoons of warm water until it thickens. Add the mixture to your batter just as you would the egg. If your flax seed isn't finely ground, just throw the seed and water into a blender or a food processor.

Not sure what to do with a whole bag of flax seed? Flax is an easy way to add fiber to your everyday meals. Add it to your protein shake. Sprinkle it over oatmeal, yogurt, and cereals. Add some to your other baking recipes. It won't last long.

Lastly, I'm a soy milk drinker, but you can try the recipe with rice, almond, or whatever non-dairy drink you fancy.

Whoopie Pie Picnic

Vegan Chocolate Peanut Butter Whoopie Pies
Adapted from (never home)maker
Makes approximately 20 sandwiches

1 3/4 c. flour
3/4 c. cocoa powder
1 1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. baking powder
1/2 c. Earth Balance
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 T. finely-ground flax seed
3T. warm water
1 c. soy milk
1 t. vanilla extract

2/3 c. peanut butter
1/2 c. Earth Balance
3/4 c. powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 400°. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Mix flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and baking powder together in a bowl. In a small bowl, whisk flax seed and water. Set aside.

In a stand mixer, beat Earth Balance and sugars on high. Add flax seed and mix to combine. Add half of the flour mixture, milk, and vanilla. Add the remaining flour mixture.

Drop batter by rounded tablespoons onto parchment-lined baking sheets, 2 in. apart. Bake 11-12 minutes. Cool completely before filling.

To make the filling, beat peanut butter and Earth Balance with a mixer until combined. Add powdered sugar and beat until smooth.

To make sandwiches, spread a layer of filling on the bottom of a cake and top with another cake. Store whoopie pies between layers waxed paper or wrap individually in plastic wrap. Refrigerate up to three days.

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