Sunday, January 31, 2010

Carrot Cake Whoopie Pies with Cinnamon Cream Filling

It is freezing cold in Maine and, although the calendar still says January, I'm beginning to suffer from cabin fever. That's not good news, because I have many months of winter to endure before the thaw in April. To combat this restlessness, my husband and I took a drive down the coast yesterday to experience the brilliant sunshine, even though the temperature was 12-degrees outside! During our adventure, we stopped in York at the headquarters of Stonewall Kitchen, a gourmet food company that makes a wide range of unique products. This delicious recipe was inspired by one of their baking mixes that happened to catch my eye. Unfortunately, diabetes makes a traditionally prepared carrot cake or whoopie pie out of my reach, so I came up with my own recipe using an alternative flour to bring the carbs down to a reasonable 13 grams per serving and the taste is amazing!

Whoopie Pies are considered a New England phenomenon, although they are increasingly found across the country these days. Normally, they are chocolate cookies filled with a vanilla cream, but creative bakers are coming up with a variety of flavors to rival the traditional chocolate. I wouldn't deem this recipe a serving of vegetables, but it does include sweet, fresh grated carrots in a soft, cake-like cookie. Along with the creamy, cinnamon filling, this whoopie pie tastes like a delicious, light carrot cake. They were fun to make and eat...maybe being stuck inside isn't so bad!

Carrot Cake Whoopie Pies with Cinnamon Cream Filling
(Makes 32 cookies or 16 whoopie pies)

1½ cups almond flour (or finely ground almonds)
¾ cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
2 eggs
¼ cup sugar
½ cup canola oil
1/3 cup light sour cream
¾ cup Splenda granular
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon butter flavor extract
1 cup grated carrot

Filling Ingredients:
½ cup mascarpone cheese
½ cup almond milk (original or unsweetened)
2 tablespoons Splenda granular
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons fat-free, sugar-free vanilla instant pudding mix (dry powder)

1. Preheat oven to 375-degrees. Place parchment paper on cookie sheet or spray lightly with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.

2. In a small mixing bowl, sift together the flours, baking soda, baking powder, salt and pumpkin pie spice; set aside.

3. In a large mixing bowl and using a handheld or standing mixer, beat the eggs until light in color and increased in volume. Add sugar and continue beating until well combined. Slowly add the canola oil and beat on high for 1 minute. Add the sour cream, Splenda, and extracts and beat until well incorporated, stopping to scrape down sides of bowl at least once. Reduce speed and add the dry ingredients ¼ cup at a time until well combined, scraping down sides of bowl occasionally. Using a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, fold in the grated carrot.

4. Using a small cookie scoop or rounded tablespoon, drop batter onto prepared cookie sheet 2 inches apart (batter will spread during baking). Bake for 10-11 minutes until cookie springs back when lightly touched or when toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cookies will not brown much, so watch carefully and do not over bake. Remove from cookie sheet onto a wire rack to cool completely before filling.

5. To make cream filling, place mascarpone cheese in a large mixing bowl and add almond milk. Beat with a handheld or standing mixer on high until well combined and mixture is light and fluffy (it will resemble whipped cream). Add Splenda, vanilla, and cinnamon and continue to beat until incorporated. Add the 2 tablespoons of vanilla instant pudding powder and beat well. Place in refrigerator for 5 minutes to set cream.

6. To assemble whoopie pies, pair two cookies by size and place 1 slightly rounded tablespoon of cinnamon cream filling on the flat side of one cookie, top with second cookie and press gently. Repeat with remaining cookies. If not serving immediately, wrap each whoopie pie in plastic wrap and store in refrigerator.

Nutritional Information per whoopie pie: 209 calories, 13.1 g carbohydrate, 16 g total fat, 3 g saturated fat, 1.3 g fiber, 4.3 g protein.

Nutritional Information per cookie (no filling): 86.2 calories, 5.9 g carbohydrate, 6.4 g total fat, 0.6 g saturated fat, 0.6 g fiber, 2 g protein.

Nutritional Information per 1 tablespoon filling (recipe makes 20 tablespoons): 29.3 calories, 1 g carbohydrate, 2.4 g total fat, 1.4 g saturated fat, 0 g fiber, 0.4 g protein.

Original recipe by Kathy Sheehan, copyright 2010

How does this compare with a whoopie pie made with a traditional recipe? This recipe is considerably less in fat and carbohydrates and has only half the calories! For comparison, the nutritional information for a Pumpkin Whoopie Pie, which is similar in flavor to my carrot recipe, is an alarming 424 calories, 55.6 g carbohydrate, 21.7 g total fat, 8 g saturated fat, 1.5 g fiber, 3.4 g protein.

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