“The Children were nestled all snug in their beds, while visions of sugar-plumbs danced in their heads.”
The time has come to dispel all myths that Christmas is about catering to childrens’ sweet-tooths. Candy canes? Chocolates? Pff boring. We need to up the grownup-factor on Christmas desserts! Add some kick and sophistication to the holiday cookie-mix. Amaretto ice cream, Guinness cupcakes, Baileys brownies anyone? Or how about some chocolate-stout cheesecake with salted beer caramel sauce!? Kids, move on over and head to your kiddie table. Mature-desserts-only! Tis the season to be merry after all, right?
I’m not here to tell you that boozy baking is a new idea. Let’s be honest- -spiked holiday treats have been around since our teenage grandparents snuck rum balls under the table. It got me thinking however how interesting it would be to look back into history and dig up some retro holiday recipes. Perhaps it’s time to flip through my Grandma’s recipe collection to see what naughty treats she has on file!
While doing some hunting, I came across a recipe for a “Whoopie Pie”! I laughed out loud when I first saw it, because it has such a goofy name. Whoopie… cushion…?..What?
Clearly more information was needed. After doing some necessary Wickipedia digging, I learned that the Whoopie Pie was a New England specialty that originated in Pennsylvannian Amish kitchens. It turned out that the dessert had not only a ridiculous name, but a whole line up of odd nicknames. Over the decades, the Whoopie Pie had been known as the Hucklebuck, Black Moon, Gob, Creamy Turtle or “BFO” (Big Fat Oreo)! (let’s just ignore that creamy turtle one.. ew)
But why.. whoopie? Well, legend has it that when men were surprised with this particular dessert in their lunch pails (left there by their thoughtful Amish wives), they just couldn’t help but holler a big old “Whoopie!” (Yes, that is what our dependable Wiki said). Hooray for double-cookie, icing-filled dessert time! Woop!
So in honour of today’s boozie-themed post, I decided to spike a regular gingersnap cookie recipe with some bourbon and add some sloshes of the bottle to the frosting bowl. The delicately spiced dessert turned out to be soft and chewey in texture with a fluffy marshmallow frosting centre. The bourbon pairs so naturally with the gingersnap’s array of Christmas spices it really is hard to imagine the dessert without the Bourbon’s added..kick!
Bourbon Gingersnap Whoopie Pies
Yield: 1 dozen whoopie pies. Bake: 350 F. Refrigerate: 1 hour or overnight.
Bourbon Gingersnap Cookies
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature 1/2 cup dark brown sugar 1/2 cup granulated sugar 1/4 cup unsulphured molasses 3 tbsp Bourbon (I used Evan Williams) 1 egg 1/2 tsp vanilla 2 cups flour 1/2 tsp baking soda 1/2 tsp salt 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon 2 tsp ginger 1/4 tsp cloves 1/2 tsp ground pink peppercorns (optional) 1 cup demarara sugar for garnish(I used Wilton's Sparkling Sugar)
1. Cream the butter and sugars on high using a stand mixer or hand-held until mixture is light and fluffy, 3-4 minutes. Beat in molasses, bourbon, egg and vanilla extract until well combined, about 1 more minute.
2. In a separate bowl, sift together the dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, salt and spices, NO demarara sugar) until all combined. Using a wooden spoon or spatula, add the dry ingredients to the wets, folding to combine. Fold the dough until an even, dark colour is distributed, then refrigerate dough in saran wrap for 1 hour. The dough should be chilled before baking.
3. Preheat oven to 350 F. Sprinkle demarara or sparkling sugar into a soup bowl. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Spoon 1 tbsp dollops of dough into the palm of your hand, then gently roll to form balls. Squish balls until they resemble patties, then drop patties face down into the sugar bowl. Place cookie dough about 2 inches apart on the cookie sheet. Bake in the middle rack of the oven for 12-15 minutes or until slighly crinkly on top. Transfer cookies to a cooling rack, then once completely cool proceed to make the icing!
Martha Stewart’s 7 minute Marshmallow Frosting
3/4 cup plus 1 tbsp sugar 1/3 cup water 1 tbsp light corn syrup 3 large egg whites 1 tsp bourbon
1. Heat 3/4 cup sugar, the water, and corn syrup in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Increase heat, and bring to a boil. Wash down sides of pan with a wet pastry brush to prevent sugar crystals from forming. Cook until it registers 235 F degrees on a candy thermometer.
2. Meanwhile, whisk whites with a mixer on medium speed until soft peaks form, about 2 1/2 minutes. Add remaining tablespoon sugar; reduce speed to medium-low. Pour sugar syrup into whites in a slow, steady stream. Increase speed to medium high; beat until stiff peaks form, about 7 minutes. Beat in bourbon.
3. Immediately spoon dollops onto base cookie (completely cooled!) and sandwich with top cookie (With sugar sprinkles.) Serve on platter immediately! Keeps for 1-2 days maximum.
*Note: If you wish to double cookie recipe for greater amounts, it can freeze well! Just thaw on the day, make frosting day-of and bake cookies as directed.
So there you have it– the Bourbon Gingersnap Whoopie Pie! A heart-warming cookie sandwich treat to dish out to your friends this Christmas. Now you not only have a great holiday recipe, but a crazy history lesson to pair with it.
I hope you have a wonderful week ahead full of some holiday festivities, a good home made meal or two and feet that stay warm and dry! (Vancouver)
PS: If you’re a Vancouverite who’s looking to get out and about, you really need to check out this week’s SCOUT LIST! I like the sounds of sand and laugh.
PPS: The unlikely story of some unusual animal friends that is sure to make you smile.
PPPS: The case for napping at work
PPPPS: My friends’ new music track hot off the press!