ABBEY-JO EANS | Happy Gillis Cafe & Hangout in Columbus Park
Eans doesn’t like the texture of pumpkin pie. In fact, the only pumpkin pastry she likes is this pumpkin cookie recipe from her mother that she has turned into a decidedly nontraditional dessert — whoopie pies.
Whoopie pies are thought to have originated with the Amish while Maine has adopted them as its official state treat. To Midwestern eyes and tastebuds, whoopie pies are neither a cookie, a pie nor a cake. And that suits Eans just fine; she is definitely not tied up in Thanksgiving tradition and can pass on the turkey, thank you.
Last year the Eans family headed to ABC Cafe for a Chinese feast. This year they might just eat downstairs in the cafe she runs with her husband, Josh Eans. But as professional cooks, it’s hard to rally around another day of cooking and cleaning when you can just hang out.
“I think the younger generation is making their own rules,” Eans says. “You can be bound by tradition, or you can make memories for yourself.”
Even the doyenne of domesticity, Martha Stewart, offered up a pumpkin whoopie pie recipe as a Thanksgiving dessert alternative a few years back. So skip the pie anxiety and try these simple cookie/cakes/pies filled with cream cheese frosting because, “Who doesn’t like cream cheese frosting?” Eans says with a shrug.
Pumpkin Whoopie Pies
Makes 12 standard pies
For the cookies:
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
1 large egg
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
For the cream cheese frosting:
4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
4 tablespoons butter, at room temperature, cut into pieces
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
To make the cookies: Using the paddle attachment on a handheld or stand mixer, cream butter and sugar together until smooth, about 2 minutes. Stir in pumpkin puree. Add egg and stir to incorporate completely. Meanwhile, sift all dry ingredients together. Then add the flour mixture, a little at a time, to the wet mixture. Do not overmix the dough; allow to chill for 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to to 375 degrees. Using a tablespoon cookie scoop or 1/4-cup ice cream-style scoop with a release mechanism (size depending on whether you want modest or standard whoopies), pack dough into scoop and plop dough onto a parchment-lined tray. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes; allow cookies to cool completely before handling.
To make the frosting: Place cream cheese in a mixing bowl. Using a rubber spatula or mixer, gradually add softened butter and continue to work until smooth and well blended. Sift in confectioners’ sugar, and continue to mix until smooth. Add vanilla and stir to combine. (Makes about 1 cup.)
To assemble: Spread or scoop 1/4-cup buttercream frosting onto a cookie bottom and sandwich with the another. Repeat with remaining cookies and filling. (Make-ahead tip: Store at room temperature covered with plastic wrap or under a cake dome for up to 3 days. Serve whoopie pies on a pretty platter, cake stand or in cupcake papers.
Per pie: 396 calories (52 percent from fat), 23 grams total fat (14 grams saturated), 80 milligrams cholesterol, 45 grams carbohydrates, 4 grams protein, 270 milligrams sodium, 1 gram dietary fiber.