In an ideal world, Maggie would have liked to give these gingerbread lemon whoopie pies two paws up and an A plus.
You see, a few weeks ago, as I was moving these cookies from a tray in the freezer to a bag in the freezer, one of them slipped and skidded to a dull, icy thud on the kitchen floor. Maggie developed wings and swooped in, locking it in her steely little jaw and running away before the other 2 dogs could sniff what they were missing.
She retreated to her girl cave – a pillow that we keep on the floor between the couch and the wall – where she goes to eat her treats and generally hide from Max’s womanizing ways. There she stood in her little alcove, all silky, magnificent 13 pounds of her, stock still, hoping mom and dad would forget about the melting treat in her mouth and, for heavens sake, stop trying to wedge themselves between the couch and the wall to snatch the sticky mess from her mouth.
It must have been quite the harassing 2 minutes for her, with mom and dad all like “NONONO MAGGIE DROPITDROPIT NONONO,” and the 2 boys all like, “What did she do? What did she do?”
I imagine that’s why she finally came out of her little den, all tentative tippy toes, big eyes, and long face. She waited at our feet while we pried the cookie out her mouth (girlfriend was not going down without a fight). Docile, but not dumb.
Besides, I’m sure she’d have never fully appreciated how the gentle, fluffy lemon cream filling perfectly plays off the gingery spiced cookie for a whoopie pie that is complicated but familiar all the same. She definitely wouldn’t have stopped to enjoy how the filling smushed out the sides when she finally bit into it, oozing into the corners of her mouth. The slight, sugary crunch that dusted each cookie and gave way to a cakey filling? Its delights would have been fully lost on her.
Of course, we felt bad afterward and, of course, we gave her a treat instead and, of course, the other two dogs got a treat because when one gets a treat then every body gets a treat.
And, of course, I looked they other way when Murphy high-fived Maggie and gave Max that knowing look. Of course, they wouldn’t cook up another hair-brained plot to get more treats out of the day.
Gingerbread Lemon Whoopie Pies
(Adapted from McCormick Spice Company)
3 cups flour
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teapoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup molasses
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 7-ounce jar marshmallow fluff
1/2 a stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 teaspoon lemon extract
1 teaspoon lemon zest
In a large bowl, mix together the flour, spices, baking soda, nutmeg and salt. Set aside.
In a stand mixer (or medium bowl) beat the butter until softened. Add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Add the molasses, egg, and vanilla. Beat until blended. Add the flour mixture and mix it until well-combined. Remove the dough from the mixer and wrap it in plastic wrap, allowing it to chill in the refrigerator at least 4 hours.
Once you are ready to bake the dough, preheat the oven to 350. Place 1/4 cup of granulated sugar in a shallow bowl. Form the dough into 1-inch sized balls and roll the balls in the sugar. Arrange the rolled balls 2 inches apart on a cookie sheet.
Bake 8 minutes, until the edges of the cookies are just turning golden. Do not overcook, as the cookies become too crisp for the filling. Cool the cookies on a wire rack.
To make the lemon filling: In a large bowl, beat the marshmallow fluff, butter, cream cheese, lemon extract and lemon zest until fluffy.
Assemble the whoopie pies by sandwiching the lemon filling between two cookies. Store the whoopie pies in the refrigerator or freezer until needed.