Pumpkin molasses whoopie cookie pies and Halloween candy bark: embracing seasonal potlucks with Jessey

And here I thought I would have no time for Halloween baking. I was happily proven wrong.

Last week, my friend Jessey (and founder of the blog I help edit, Local Tourist Ottawa, GO CHECK IT OUT) sent me an email request. Her office was having a Halloween potluck on Thursday and she wanted to know if I could help her make some spooky treats. Of course, I had to make time for a friend. Enabling myself to bake for an entire night wasn’t a bad thing either.

After I got Jessey’s message, I spent the next few hours searching the Internet for perfect, not-too-difficult-but-still-impressive-looking recipes. I finally decided on the Halloween candy bark from Annie’s Eats and some super huge variation on this whoopie pie recipe in order to not use cake mix.

When Wednesday evening rolled around, it was time to ingredient shop. After a trip to the grocery store in which half of the world’s chocolate supply was carried home on my bike (seriously, I looked like a girl scorned by a terrible, broken relationship), Jessey came over to my place and we started the baking. But not before eating some mini chicken pot pies. Recipe to come.

Secret: I’m absolutely terrified to bake/cook with or for other people. Things could happen. My oven could explode, chocolate could burn, stovetop fires could occur or, heaven forbid, something could even taste bad. This isn’t me lying to you or exaggerating in any way. I’m scared that either A through D will happen and that the friend, family member and/or roommate that I’m with at the time will harshly judge me, comment all over my blog, and thereby destroy any sort of little community I’ve built for myself here. Luckily none of these things happened. I know, you were really holding your breath for a moment.

Hey look! It's me! I look super happy and about five-years-old. Photo by Jessey

In fact, there was only one thing that happened throughout our entire baking time that could be ranked on the “I’m judging you, Hilary” scale. Here’s the story:

It was the end of the evening and Jessey and I were making the filling for the whoopie pie cookies. During my trip to the grocery store, I had put both the all purpose flour bag and the icing sugar bag in one spot. Both were clear, since baking supplies are best bought at the Bulk Barn. Both looked pretty darn similar.

Poor hindsight. Can you spot my error?

The icing for the cookies required a cup-and-a-half of icing sugar. Guess what cup-and-a-half went into the mixing bowl instead? You guessed it. Along with the orange gel food colouring, the filling started to resemble more of a magic potion (like the ones I stored in film canisters in my closet when I was 10) than an actual edible frosting (or anything for that matter). The mistake was spotted and we laughed. I was only flush red for a few minutes.

Other than that, everything was super. Realistically, the whoopie pies were more like delicious, soft pumpkin-molasses cookies with icing smushed in between them. My evening ended with me piping leftover frosting onto cookies and, when those were all gone, piping it straight into my mouth. Attractive, I know.

Jessey and I at the end of the evening (Photo by Jeremy)
Instagram, you take pretty cookie pictures

Moral of the story: you always have time to bake (and icing makes your stomach sore). Jessey said our dessert plate was a hit!

Food photo shoots are always better when your pretty roommates join in!

Recipe: Pumpkin molasses whoopie pie cookies
Adapted from My Baking Addiction & Betty Crocker
Cookies
– 2 1/3 cups flour
– 2 tsp baking soda
– 1/2 tsp salt
– 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
– 1/4 tsp black pepper
– 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
– 1 cup brown sugar, packed
– 1/4 cup molasses
– 2/3 cup pumpkin puree
– 1 large egg
– 1/2 cup sugar, for rolling

Whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, pumpkin pie spice, and pepper.

Using a mixer (or your really strong arm), beat the butter on medium speed until smooth and creamy. Add the brown sugar, molasses, and pumpkin puree and beat for 2 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the egg and beat for 1 minute more. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients, mixing until the flour and spices disappear. If flour remains in the bottom of the bowl, mix the last of the dry ingredients by hand to avoid over beating. You will have a very soft dough.

Divide the dough in half and wrap each piece in plastic wrap. Freeze for at least 30 minutes, or refrigerate for at least 1 hour. The dough is sticky, so the longer time it can chill the easier it is to work with.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

Put the sugar in a small bowl. Roll the cookie dough into tiny balls, about the size of a tiny bouncy ball. They can be bigger than this, but then you’re just going to get really big whoopie pies. The choice is yours. Roll the balls in the sugar bowl to coat. Place of cookie sheet and press them down slightly with the palm of your hand.

Bake the cookies one sheet at a time for 12-14 minutes, or until the top feels set to the touch. Remove baking sheets from the oven. Let cookies cool completely before adding the filling.

Filling
– 1/4 cup butter, softened
– 4 oz (half of normal-sized package) cream cheese, softened
– 1 1/2 cups icing sugar
– 1/4 tsp orange gel food colouring

In medium bowl, beat butter and the cream cheese with electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Gradually add icing sugar; beat until blended. Add the orange food colouring and continue to mix until filling is orange and no streaks remain.

Using a piping bag or Ziploc bag with the corner snipped off, pipe a quarter-sized dollop of filling onto the bottom of a cookie. Sandwich it with another. Consume and be happy.

Recipe: Halloween candy bark
Adapted from Annie’s Eats
– 1 lb. bittersweet chocolate chips (buy and weigh at the Bulk Barn)
– 1 Crunchie chocolate bar, roughly chopped
– 1 Crispy Crunch chocolate bar, roughly chopped
– 1/2 cup Skor toffee chips
– 3 Reeses Cups, chopped
– 1/2 cup Reeses pieces
– 3 oz. good quality white chocolate, finely chopped

Line a baking sheet with foil. Place the chocolate chips in a heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water. Heat, stirring occasionally until the chocolate is completely melted and smooth. Pour the chocolate over the foil and smooth into a thin layer with a spatula. Evenly sprinkle the chopped candy bars, Skor chips, Reese’s Cups and Reese’s pieces over the melted chocolate. Press gently to adhere the candy to the melted chocolate. Transfer to the refrigerator and chill for 30 minutes.

Melt the white chocolate, again using the double boiler method, until smooth. Drizzle over the chilled candy bark. Return to the refrigerator and let chill again until the white chocolate is set, 3o minutes more.

Peel the sheet of chocolate away from the foil and break into irregular pieces. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

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10 thoughts on “Pumpkin molasses whoopie cookie pies and Halloween candy bark: embracing seasonal potlucks with Jessey

  1. Why did it take me so long to comment on this? Thanks for letting me cross
    “bake with Hilary Duff” off my bucket list! These treats were a huge hit at work and also, you are my hero.

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