New York is a hard place to live. It’s full of people, but can be lonely. It’s artsy, but often too pretentious. It’s cutting edge, but too expensive for most of us normal folk. I commute on the subway every day and those are the times that I think to myself “I can’t do this anymore.” And then I have a day like I did yesterday, that reminds me of all the reasons I love it here and all the reasons I put up with the crowds and the attitudes and the too-cool-for-school mentality.
I have a tradition. Every year, midway through my Christmas shopping (I often try to bang it out in one day), I take a break and collate what I’ve bought with a glass of wine and something delicious at Bar Jamon. Have you ever found a restaurant that speaks to your soul? Bar Jamon is one of mine and when I’m there, I’m content.
So yesterday I stopped there. Mid–endorphine-fueled shopping spree, to feed my soul. I had spent time at the Union Square Holiday Market and green market, traveled uptown and down. It was cold, but not frigid, and the city was bright with sun and Christmas sparkles. I finally got to wear my new gloves. I finished most of my shopping. I talked with the hipster artisans and groaned at the frat boys from santacon. I drank my Spanish wine. And then I came home and made these.
These are actually somewhere between a whoopie pie and a sandwich cookie. I took a gingerbread recipe that I trust and adore and modified the bejeezus out of it, adding more flour and adapting the spices. In the end the cookies turned sturdy and dense; more cookie than cake, but still softish. The filling is a cream cheese, eggnog frosting, perfect for the spicy little cookies on either side. I cooked them without worrying about photos or lighting (I took the photos today), just enjoying my kitchen and the Christmas music above. My soul needed a day like yesterday. I love you NY; I love you my life.
Gingerbread and Eggnog Whoopie Pies
Makes ~30 mini whoopie pies.
The cakes were adapted wildly from this recipe, which you should totally try as it is.
1/2 c. Stout beer
1/2 c. molasses
1/4 t baking soda
4 c flour
1 t. baking powder
2 T ground ginger
1 1/2 t cinnamon
1/2 t ground cloves
1/4 t ground nutmeg
pinch of cardamom
1/4 t salt
2/3 c. vegetable oil
1/2 stick (4 T) unsalted butter, room temperature
12 oz cream cheese, room temperature
4 c powdered sugar
3 T eggnog
1 t vanilla extract
1/4 t ground nutmeg
1/4 t cinnamon
- Heat oven to 350°F. Line two cookie sheets with a parchment (or a silpat)
- In a small pan, bring stout and molasses to a boil, then whisk in baking soda. Cool to room temperature
- In a large bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, spices, and salt
- In a small bowl, whisk together eggs and sugars, then whisk in oil and molasses mixtures
- Add the liquid to the flour mixture and stir until just combined
- Drop the batter in tablespoon-sized mounds, about 2″ apart, on the lined cookie sheets
- Bake 8-9 min or unto firm, but not browned
- Cool completely
- Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and cream cheese until fluffy
- Add the powdered sugar and mix on low until combined
- Add the rest of the ingredients and mix until combined. If the icing is too lose, add a bit more powdered sugar
- Chill icing ~30 min before using
- Once the cookies are cool, use a pastry bag to pipe icing onto the flat side of half the cookies (you will have extra icing)
- Top the iced cookie with another cookie, flat side down, being careful not to squish the icing too much
- Place whoopie pies in the fridge to set, ~15 min