Definitely Not Paleo: Mexican Chocolate Whoopie Pies with Salted Caramel Buttercream
Since nowadays my baking projects are at an all time minimum (ahh, remember when I used to bake every weekend??), I must reserve breaking Paleo for special occasions and/or irresistible flavor combos just screaming to be whipped up. So, when my company announced our annual Bake-Off / Bake-Sale was around the corner, my sugar-receptors kicked into gear and began creating a potentially winning recipe (Truth: they did not win, but they did sell out fast!).
I wanted to make whoopie pies, because first of all, they’re much easier to transport to work than cupcakes! But also, I felt they would be less expected. Little did I know, my two co-workers would also be adding their own delicious whoopies to the mix (one was gingerbread with lemon cream cheese filling and the other was vanilla with maple cream cheese filling)! Anyway, I decided to do a spin on the classic whoopie by going with chocolate but swapping out regular chocolate for Mexican (which uses cinnamon) and spiced them up a little with some chili pepper. For the filling, I wanted to do a Swiss buttercream because the silky texture is really nice, but it also holds up well between the two cookie layers (similar to my first whoopie experience). However, a simple vanilla would not do, so I found a Martha Stewart recipe that uses caramel and added the salt-factor myself. The result was exactly what I wanted; Rich, dark chocolate with a subtle spice, and a silky, sweet and salty filling.
Sidenote: Caramel is HARD to make! Don’t be discouraged by this first step in making the filling, but as a suggestion I recommend making the buttercream a day in advance. You can keep it overnight sealed with plastic wrap, bring it to room temperature for a couple hours before you need it, and use the paddle attachment on your mixer to whip it back up before using. It took me 3 attempts to get the right consistency in my caramel. My first batch was over-cooked, so as it cooled it was way too thick to mix into a buttercream. However, I ended up using that batch to make chewy candies (just pour the still-warm caramel into a baking small baking dish thats covered with parchment and sprayed with cooking spray, let cool in the fridge, cut, and wrap in waxed paper)! Lemons into lemonade…
Mexican Chocolate Whoopie Pies, Makes about 30
- 10 ounces Mexican chocolate, chopped (about 3 ½ 2.7oz packages)
- 1 cup (2 stick) unsalted butter
- 3 tsp chili powder
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup light brown sugar
- 6 large eggs
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 cup cake flour
- ½ cup + 2 TBSP cocoa powder
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1.5 tsp salt
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
Put the Mexican chocolate, butter, and chili powder in a large heatproof bowl and set it over a pot of simmering water, being sure the bottom of the bowl is not in contact with the water. Slowly melt the chocolate and butter, stirring with a rubber spatula until smooth. Remove from heat.
In a large bowl, whisk the sugars, eggs and vanilla. Slowly add the chocolate mixture and whisk until well blended.
In another bowl, add the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt, stir to combine. In batches, add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, folding with a rubber spatula until the ingredients are well incorporated. Be careful not to over mix.
Use a small 2 TBSP cookie scoop to drop batter onto the prepared pans. Spacing batter about 1-inch apart. Bake about 7 minutes, until cookies are cooked through and cake-like to the touch. Cool slightly and transfer them to wire racks. Repeat with remaining batches.
Salted Caramel Buttercream (from Martha Stewart)
- 1 cup plus 2 TBSP granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 12 ounces (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
- 4 large egg whites, room temperature
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1 tsp sea salt or kosher salt
Bring 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar and the water to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Wash sides of pan with a wet pastry brush to prevent sugar crystals from forming. Cook, undisturbed, until caramel is dark amber. Remove from heat, and slowly add cream, stirring with a wooden spoon until smooth (keep your distance as the addition of cream will cause your caramel to seize up and splatter). Stir in salt, and let cool.
Beat butter with a mixer on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl.
Place whites and remaining 1/2 cup sugar in a heatproof mixer bowl set over a pot of simmering water. Whisk until sugar dissolves and mixture registers 160 degrees on a candy thermometer.
Remove from heat, and attach bowl to a mixer. Whisk on medium speed for 5 minutes. Increase speed to medium-high, and whisk until stiff, glossy peaks form, about 6 minutes. Reduce speed to medium, and add beaten butter, cup at a time, whisking well after each addition. Whisk in vanilla.
Switch to paddle attachment. With mixer on low speed, add caramel and beat until smooth, 3 to 5 minutes.
Assemble the Whoopie Pies
Rearrange your cooled whoopee pie cookies into like-sized pairs, placing one of each pair flat-side up. Scoop the caramel buttercream into a piping bag fitted with a wide tip (or fill a Ziploc bag and snip one corner open). Pipe buttercream in a circular motion onto the flat-side-up cookies and carefully top with the face-down pairs. If desired, dust the tops with confectioners sugar.
If not individually wrapping your whoopies, make sure you use waxed paper to separate them in layers in an air-tight container. Enjoy!