This recipe is adapted from one in the New York Times. They called them Whoopie Pies. Honestly, I’m not from Pennsylvania so I’d be the last person to claim these are Whoopie Pies. I’ve seen Whoopie Pies in stores. I’ve tried them. But what makes these cakes filled with “cream” a Whoopie Pie? Yeah, I’m not going there. We’ll call them sandwich cakes.
My friends from college and I, we have a bit of an obsession with apple cider donuts. College was smack in the middle of NY State, home to many orchards, many cider presses, and lots of delicious apple cider donuts. I miss those donuts, living in Colorado. They just aren’t a thing. I recently went to one of my old food haunts, Delicious Orchards in Colts Neck, NJ and got my fix.
Of course, these cakes are not donuts. They are very good though. They keep better than donuts and they have the added yum factor of cream cheese filling.
I live a mile high, outside Denver, Colorado. The original recipe has been modified for that altitude but I provide the original leavening amount so you can try them in your “flatlands” kitchen.
Apple cider is available in most supermarkets. Seasonally, we have local fresh-pressed cider. In June, it’s the shelf-stable stuff. That works too but try to find one that is cloudy, not clear.
Apple Cider Sandwich Cakes
(makes 9 sandwiches)
Adapted from New York Times Apple Cider Whoopie Pies
FOR THE CAKES:
1 ¼ cup apple cider
1 ½ cups + 2 Tablespoons cake flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder (1 teaspoon at sea level)
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon baking soda (same at sea level)
1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon, divided
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus 2 tablespoons melted
½ cup packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
¼ cup apple butter
¼ cup granulated sugar
FOR THE FILLING:
6 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Bring the apple cider to a boil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Continue to cook the cider until it has reduced to 1/4 cup, about 20 minutes. Let cool completely, in the refrigerator.
Heat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, baking soda, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg. In a large bowl, with an electric mixer on medium, beat the room-temperature butter and brown sugar until fluffy, about 3 minutes, scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary. Add egg, apple butter and reduced apple cider, and beat until combined. The batter will probably break and look like a mess. No worries, it will come back together in the end. Add the dry mixture and mix just until combined, again scraping the bowl as necessary.
Portion the dough into generous 2-tablespoon scoops on 2 parchment-lined rimmed baking sheets, about 1 1/2-inches apart. You should have 9 cakes on each sheet, 3×3. Bake, rotating sheets halfway through, until the cakes are puffed and set, 12 – 13 minutes. Watch for over-done bottoms near the end. Transfer sheets to racks. In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and the granulated sugar. Brush the tops of the warm cakes with a bit of the melted butter and press the tops in the sugar mixture. Set aside to cool completely.
In a large bowl, with an electric mixer on medium, beat the cream cheese and butter until smooth. Add the confectioners’ sugar and vanilla and beat to combine. Split the filling on 9 cakes. Top with remaining cakes.
Store in the fridge but allow to come to room temperature before serving. They are better at room temperature than cold but the cream cheese must be refrigerated for longer storage. Eat within 3 days, if you can stop yourself from eating them all right away.