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The Batter Thickens: Peanut Butter/Apple Butter Whoopie Pies

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Peanut Butter/Apple Butter Whoopie Pies

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Audrey recently told you about her childhood obsession with peanut butter/apple butter sandwiches (as they were referred to in our household)**. It's funny because neither of us have ever baked with apple butter before, but we both came up with ideas for apple butter recipes independently at almost the same time. It's almost...spooky. Maybe there's some ghosty halloween vibes in the air? Either that or it's just sisterly ESP. Or something.

Either way, I was inspired by Audrey's favorite kindergarten lunch when I brainstormed the idea for this recipe. I was never obsessed with them the way she was, but there's something about the pairing of salty-sweet peanut butter and the spiced sweetness of apple butter that just...works. I would probably have to agree with Audrey (putting words in her mouth here, but I'm pretty confident she would say them so it's okay) in arguing that peanut butter/apple butter sandwiches are actually superior to peanut butter and jelly.

Are you gasping at my audacity? Have I spouted off peanut butter blasphemy? If we were IRL right now, I'd stuff a peanut butter/apple butter whoopie pie right into your open mouth, not to shut you up (well okay, a little bit to shut you up) but just so you'd know what I'm talking about. Since we're not IRL, you'll have to endure my babbling instead until you're convinced.

**Fun fact: Audrey was SO OBSESSED with peanut butter/apple butter sandwiches as kid that one year for her birthday dinner she requested that we have peanut butter/apple butter sandwiches. So my mom made a platter of them. For the whole family. Because on her birthday, the birthday girl reigns as queen and her (eccentric) wish is our command. It is known.

First off, who doesn't love a whoopie pie? They're so adorable, in a homely kind of way. They're not as primped and pretty as a cupcake or as fancy as a cake, but they have their own low-key flair and they're rocking it. I'm talking the jeans and t-shirt get up of cake-based confections. But like, a model wearing jeans and a t-shirt and making it more chic than you ever could. Ya feel?

Moving on.

(Look how jaunty and charming they look stacked like that, all shy "aw shucks, I'm not really that cute" cuteness. You can just see them blushing because really, they might protest but they're definitely actually flattered.)

(I might be getting carried away with this personification bit.)

(I'll stop now.) (Really.)

These babies have everything you could want from a whoopie pie. The cake is soft, moist, and chewy. The apple butter flavor is present but unassuming. It's a gentle spiced coziness that grounds the fluffy, sweet peanut butter frosting in the middle. It's the cake equivalent of a warm blanket, a comfy chair, and a cup of hot tea, preferably with seasonally appropriate precipitation precipitating outside a nearby window, whether that be snow or rain. *Autumnal Coziness: Now in convenient edible and portable form!*

Confession: The apple butter whoopies are tasty as all get out - don't get me wrong - but the peanut butter frosting is the star of this show. We've talked about this frosting before. It's our go-to peanut butter frosting. And for good reason. I've gone on record saying that I would eat this frosting with a spoon were it not, you know, essentially pure butter and sugar. I've said it before and I'll say it again: One of the (only) downsides of being a baker is knowing good and well exactly what goes into everything you bake. *sigh* It's my cross to bear, but I'll bear it gladly.

So what do you say? Are you convinced? I hope so, or else I might have to come over there and convince you with more aggressive tactics. That may or may not involve freshly baked whoopie pies and forcible feeding. Do you really want to take it there? I didn't think so. I think it's best for everyone if you just agree that these whoopie pies sound delightful and special and quintessentially autumnal and go bake a batch for yourself. ;)

- Molly

Peanut Butter/Apple Butter Whoopie Pies
Whoopie pies adapted from Baking a Moment, Frosting from the Cake Mix Doctor

Apple Butter Whoopie Pies

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup (lightly packed) light brown sugar
2 eggs
1 cup apple butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup heavy cream

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, and mix until well blended. Mix in the sweet potato puree and vanilla extract.

Combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and spices in a medium bowl, and add one third of the mixture into the batter. Mix in half the cream, and scrape the bottom and sides of the mixing bowl with a rubber spatula. Mix in half of the remaining dry ingredients, then the remaining cream, and scrape the bowl again. Mix in the remaining dry ingredients and drop 3-tablespoon-sized mounds of the batter onto a parchment-lined baking sheet.

Bake for 20 minutes and cool completely before filling with peanut butter frosting.

Peanut Butter Frosting

1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 stick butter, at room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar
2 to 3 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Place the peanut butter and butter in a large mixing bowl. Blend with an electric mixer on low speed until fluffy, about 30 seconds. Add the confectioners’ sugar, milk, and the vanilla. Blend with the mixer on low speed until the sugar is well combined, 1 minute. Increase the speed to medium and beat until the frosting lightens and is fluffy, 1 minute more. Blend in up to 1 tablespoon milk if the frosting seems too stiff. Don't be afraid to play with proportions. These are by no means hard and fast measurements. If you want the peanut butter flavor to be stronger...add more peanut butter. If you like sweeter or thicker frostings...add more sugar. If you like smoother, thinner frostings, add more milk. I don't believe in settling for less than perfection. So play around until you have your perfect peanut butter frosting!

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