I went on a crazy baking spree early in December. I churned out batches of cookies, candies, fudge, bars, and other delicious goodies. I took things to parties, gave some away, and we ate some (okay, a lot). When I woke up from my sugar-induced holiday stupor the other day, I realized,with some amount of panic, that we were almost out of Christmas goodies… and with Christmas less than a week away.
Clearly that would not do. I refuse to have my first Christmas with Thing 1 old enough to know what is going on be without delicious treats. I knew I had to do something and before you can say advent calendar, I was back in the kitchen whipping up my third batch of these cookies. The first two batches were whisked away to parties, despite the longing glances from Marc and Thing 1. They were such a hit that it was only fair for me to make a batch for us to enjoy.
And enjoy we have. I think the gingerbread is just right… not too sweet, not too spicy, crispy on the edges and soft in the middle. The lemon creme is a perfect complement. Make them small for bite-sized treats, a little bigger if you want a heartier cookie. It is helpful if you let them chill in the fridge a little before eating so the creme can firm up. Of course, if you are anything like us, devouring them as soon as they are put together tastes pretty awesome too.
Gingerbread Whoopie Pies with Lemon Creme
The folks at McCormick have really outdone themselves with this recipe. I adapted it slightly
3 cups flour
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, divided
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup molasses (I like robust or blackstrap)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 jar (7 oz) marshmallow cream
4 oz cream cheese, softened
1 tsp lemon extract
zest of 1 lemon
Mix flour, ginger, cinnamon, baking soda, nutmeg, cloves, and salt in large bowl. With a mixer set on medium speed, beat 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add molasses and egg and beat well. Gradually beat the flour mixture until well mixed. Press the dough into a flat disk, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 4 hours (or overnight). The firmer it is, the easier it is to handle so don’t skimp on this step.
After chilling, pull off pieces of dough and roll into balls, about 1 inch in diameter. I used a melon baller to make my dough balls uniform in size (I also made them a little smaller than 1 inch). Roll each ball in granulated sugar and place on an ungreased cookie sheet.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and bake for 8-10 minutes or until the edges just begin to brown. If you oven is anything like mine, turn the cookies half way to ensure even browning. Remove to wire racks to let cool completely.
To make the cream, mix the remaining butter, cream cheese, marshmallow cream, extract, and lemon zest until well blended. Spoon 1/2-1 tbls of cream on the flat side of a cookie and top it with another cookie, pressing gently to spread the filling. Place on a tray and refrigerate 30-60 minutes to firm up the cream.
Makes 30-40 whoopie pies, depending on size. McCormick suggests rolling the finished cookies in chopped peppermint candies. While I think this looks pretty, peppermint, lemon, and gingerbread really don’t work for me. If you think this sounds like a good combination, then go for it.