Monday, May 30, 2011

Banana Caramel Whoopie Pies

Do you say it cahr-uh-mel or car-muhl?

We had plans to go to a Memorial Day party, and I was asked to bring a dessert.  I went to the internet and got some ideas.  When I told my husband about these ideas, he heard "whoopie pie," giggled, and said "Make those!"  I really hemmed and hawed, since they involved so many steps plus wouldn't have been cooking in my own kitchen.

But, I went for it anyway, and forced my husband to help.  Because, after all, I was only making these at his request.

So, they involved a lot of steps, took a lot of time, but otherwise were really EASY.  And they were AWESOME.  I took them to the party, and don't really know how folks liked them because we had to leave early with an unhappy baby, but WE loved them.  It was much like eating a banana pancake with deliciousness on top; I think they'd be even better with the addition of walnuts to the cookie part.

I wasn't happy with how the caramel sauce turned out; I think I overcooked the sugar a little bit, and on its own, it tasted...weird.  But in the whoopie pie, it was delicious!!

Another WIN from Annie's Eats

Banana Caramel Whoopie Pies
Yield: 30-36 sandwich cookies
For the caramel sauce:
½ cup sugar
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream
¼ tsp. coarse salt
½ tsp. vanilla extract
For the cookies:
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
½ cup mashed banana (about 1-1½ bananas)
½ cup sour cream
8 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup light brown sugar
1 large egg
½ tsp. vanilla extract
For the filling:*
3 large egg whites, at room temperature
¾ cup sugar
Pinch of salt
16 tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into 1 tbsp. pieces, at room temperature
½ cup caramel sauce (above)
*This will make more filling/frosting than you actually need for this recipe (I had about 1 cup extra).  You could reduce to 2/3 or simply save for another use.
To make the caramel sauce, spread the sugar out in an even layer in a medium skillet or saucepan over medium heat.  Once the sugar starts to liquefy around the edges, stir it gently with a spatula towards the center.  Continue stirring gently until all of the sugar is melted and no hard bits remain.  Once the caramel reaches a deep amber color, remove it from the heat.  (If you are using a dark pan, test a drop on a white plate or towel so you can accurately assess the color.)  Off the heat, carefully whisk in half of the cream.  The mixture will bubble and steam violently.  Stir until the cream is thoroughly combined, then whisk in the remaining cream.  Some of the sugar will likely have clumped up around the whisk.  Return the pan to medium-low heat and continue to whisk gently until everything is melted and smooth.  Stir in the salt and vanilla.  Remove from the heat and let cool.  (This sauce can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator and reheated.)
To make the cookies, preheat the oven to 350˚ F.  Line baking sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment paper.  In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt; whisk to blend, and set aside.  In a small bowl, combine the mashed banana and sour cream.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugars on medium high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Blend in the egg and vanilla.  With the mixer on low speed, add in the dry ingredients in three additions alternating with the banana mixture, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients.  Mix each addition just until incorporated.
Pipe the batter using a plain round tip onto the prepared baking sheets into 1¼-inch rounds, spacing a couple of inches apart.  Bake until the cookies are just set and the bottom edges are starting to brown, about 10-12 minutes.  Let cool on the baking sheets 5-10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
To make the filling, combine the egg whites and sugar in a large heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water.  Heat the mixture, whisking very frequently, until the sugar is completely dissolved and reaches 160° F on an instant read thermometer.  Transfer the mixture to the clean, dry bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.  Beat on medium-high speed until the mixture holds stiff peaks.  Reduce the speed to medium low, add in the salt and begin adding the butter one piece at a time, beating well after each addition.  Stir in ½ cup of the cooled caramel sauce until well blended.
Once the cookies are completely cooled, match them up in pairs by size.  Fill a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip with the caramel filling.  Pipe a dollop of filling onto the flat side of one cookie of each pair, and sandwich the cookies together, pushing the filling to the edges.  Store in an airtight container.
Source: caramel sauce slightly adapted from The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz, cookie from Martha Stewart, frosting from Half Baked, all via Annie's Eats

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