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Sitting here, writing this post today, I am enjoying a sight out the window that is dear to the heart of any Upstate New Yorker – there is a male robin enjoying the fermented chokecherries and crab apples from the trees in our yard.
Did you know that the male robins always migrate ahead of the females? It’s true – they usually show up a few weeks before their wives get here. They are supposed to be scouting for nesting sites I guess, but my friend Karen always said they just told that to the lady robins and really they came up to hang out in bars and carouse for a few weeks. Then the wimminfolk arrive and they are all like “What have you been doing? You haven’t found us a place to build our nest! You’ve been hanging out with Frank and George haven’t you? I have to do everything around here! My mother was right about you! Now get out there and find us a place to have our babies!”
That actually isn’t as farfetched as it might seem – Karen’s a wise woman. They are totally pigging out on fermented fruit right now and I guess they can get a little loopy from it. And seriously – I don’t see them looking for a place to nest at all.
For me, this is the time of year I start looking over what we still have left in the freezer and on the shelf from last fall. It is time to see how supplies are holding up, and what kinds of changes we might need in terms of what we want to grow this coming summer. I also keep an eye out for things that may have gotten shoved to the back of a shelf or the bottom of the freezer – and I often find very pleasant surprises there. Trolling for inspiration, I happened across a stash of applesauce from last fall. It didn’t take me long to decide to make these big soft, slightly spicy cookies that nestle very nicely around a cream cheese filling.Applesauce Whoopie Pies are easy to make, but there are a few steps involved, so let’s get going.
Applesauce Whoopie Pies
- 1/2 cup butter at room temperature
- 1 cup light brown sugar packed
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup applesauce - any kind is fine
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup raisins [optional]
- 3 ounces soft cream cheese
- 3 ounces soft butter
- 12 ounces confectioners’ sugar
- pinch of salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- about 2 tablespoons cream or half & half
Make the cookies
- Preheat the oven to 350º, and line heavy baking sheets with parchment paper, or grease them if you prefer.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer [or in a learge mixing bowk if you prefer to use a hand mixer], cream together the butter and the sugar, until fluffy.
- Add the vanilla and egg and beat until smooth.
- Beat in the applesauce - this will give the batter a somewhat curdled appearance and that is just fine.
- In a smaller bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and salt.
- Add the dry ingredients and beat on low speed, until combined.
- Beat in the raisins.
- You will have a rather soft dough.
- Portion the dough onto the prepared sheets with a medium cookie scoop - about 2 tablespoons. They will spread out a bit, so leave some room around them.
- Bake for 15 minutes, turning the sheets half way through to ensure even baking.
- Carefully remove the cookies to a cooling rack to cool completely before filling.
Make the Filling
- Beat together the butter and cream cheese.
- Add the sugar and salt and beat at low speed until combined.
- Beat in the vanilla and 1 tablespoon of the cream, adding more cream if necessary to get a spreadable consistency.
Assemble the Whoopie Pies
- Spread the bottom of half the cookies with the filling, and then top each one with another cookie, bottom side facing in.
- Serve immediately, or store in a tightly sealed container for up to 3 days at room temperature, and in the refrigerator if for long.
- Alternatively, you can use the filling to frost each cookie.
This is pure, blissful enjoyment: