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Spice up your life: Four ways to make whoopie

Nestled snugly between “barbecued-flavored-everything-time” and “peppermint-flavored-everything-time” we have my personal favorite: “pumpkin-spice-flavored-everything-time.” This week I have a wonderful dessert overflowing with the nectar of the pumpkin spice gods.

Remember whoopie pies? If a cake, a cookie, frosting and a sandwich somehow managed to have a baby, it’d be a whoopie pie. Two round, pillowy cakelike cookies with a creamy cloudlike filling sandwiched in between. So soft and dreamy, they’re bound to please the most discerning sweet tooth in your circle.

Traditionally whoopie pies are chocolate cakes with vanilla filling, but not today. We’re making a pumpkin spice whoopie pie with several fillings you can choose from. We have marshmallow pumpkin spice, maple vanilla, salted caramel and for making pumpkin spice latte whoopies: coffee latte filling. How to choose? You may have to make this more than once. I sure did.

This pumpkin spice cookie recipe has been around forever and is very easy to prepare. I’ve chosen to use a boxed cake mix as an ingredient because I find it not only easier, but when you compare the cost of assembling all the cake ingredients it’s less expensive. Look for cake mix on sale for less than $1.

Serve these only to people you really like because these are amazing, and they will follow you home. Truth.

PUMPKIN SPICE WHOOPIES PIES

Yield: about 15 decadent whoopies

What you’ll need:

1 cup canned pumpkin

⅓ cup butter, softened

1 15.25-ounce package spice cake mix

2 eggs

½ cup milk

Filling (see recipes below)

Here’s how:

Preheat oven to 375 F degrees. Line a couple of cookie sheets with parchment paper or greased foil.

In a stand mixer or large mixing bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed, beat pumpkin and butter until smooth. Add cake mix, eggs and milk, and mix until well-combined. Chill batter for 15 minutes to firm up a little.

Drop batter by heaping tablespoons, 3 inches apart on cookie sheets. Aim for 30 cookies total. Smooth the tops of the cookie batter with moist fingertips. Bake for 15 minutes. (I did one sheet at a time, but you may want to do two at once. If so, rotate sheets halfway through.)

Place cookies on wire rack to cool. Cool completely before assembling whoopie pies. Seriously. Let them cool or it’s a big mess.

If storing before assembling, place in single layers in a storage container with wax paper between layers to prevent sticking. These soft cookies will stick together like glue.

To assemble: Prepare filling of choice (recipes below) and chill filling for one hour. Pipe or spoon about 2 tablespoons of filling on the flat side of one cookie and top with a second cookie. Repeat 14 more times.

Serve immediately or store in the refrigerator.

Filling

For each filling recipe below, begin by creaming together ½ cup softened butter with an 8-ounce brick of softened cream cheese until smooth. Then add the remaining ingredients.

Marshmallow pumpkin spice: Add 2 cups powdered sugar, about half of a 7-ounce container of marshmallow cream (incentive to make a double batch?), 1 teaspoon vanilla, 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice and a pinch of salt.

Maple vanilla:Add 3 cups powdered sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla and 3 tablespoons maple syrup.

Salted caramel:Add ½ teaspoon each almond and vanilla extracts, ½ cup salted caramel sauce (purchased at the store near the ice cream) and ½ teaspoon kosher salt. Gradually add 3 cups powdered sugar.

Coffee latte: Dissolve 1½ teaspoons instant coffee or instant espresso granules into 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. Add to mixture then gradually add 3 cups powdered sugar.

Lifestyle expert Patti Diamond is a recipe developer and food writer of the website “Divas on a Dime – Where Frugal, Meets Fabulous!” Visit Patti at www.divasonadime.com and join the conversation on Facebook at DivasOnADimeDotCom. Email Patti at divapatti@divasonadime.com.

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