Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Banana whoopie pies with Nutella buttercream

Smack in the middle of my holiday cookie baking, I got a craving and a wild idea.  My husband can vouch from past experience that this means two things: First, a phone call from me begging him to stop at the grocery store.  Second, dessert.

Spontaneity always means sugar in my world.  For some, this might be a sign of a bigger problem.  For me, it's as welcome and reliable as the sunrise :)

The craving was for something sweet and soft.  I love snappy and chewy cookies, but even I needed a break from 'em.  And as much as eating more of the cookie dough would've satisfied me, there was no reason I couldn't take a break from baking... to do a little more baking.

The wild idea was to use the two ripening bananas on my counter for something other than banana muffins: whoopie pies!

Don't get me wrong, banana muffins and bread are absolutely delicious.  But when was the last time you heard of another use for ripe bananas?


Exactly.  And the idea of banana whoopie pies seemed like a no brainer since the sandwiching element of the pie is typically a soft, cake-like cookie.  Cookies that were so good I ate a few without any frosting at all.  (Cravings and wild ideas also breed impatience.)

The only sticking point was what to put between the moist banana bread-esque cookies.  And, when I finally figured it out, the final problem was whether any of that filling would be left for the whoopie pies.

Ye of little willpower, I give you Nutella buttercream filling, nectar of the heavens.  Nutty, chocolatey, and smooth as silk.

I could smear a dollop of this stuff on just about anything and devour it with a smile.  How about a slice of warm toast?  You betcha.

Before you call me crazy for essentially lathering icing on my morning toast, hear me out.  You'd put butter on toast, right?  And many folks spread Nutella on toast, too.  Therefore, the leap from Nutella buttercream to toast is actually quite small.  Lawyered.

You could consider these fluffy banana whoopie pies with Nutella buttercream the sweetest of dessert treats.  But, I'll have you know that they are basically breakfast food at their very core.  Banana bread... Nutella on toast... Just add a cup of coffee or tea and no one will argue with you.

That's not such a wild idea after all.

One year ago: Red velvet cookies with cream cheese icing
Three years ago: Cinnamon love knots
Four years ago: Glazed lemon pound cake

Banana Whoopie Pies
(recipe adapted slightly from Martha Stewart)
-makes roughly 36 cookies, or 18 filled sandwiches

A few notes: If Nutella isn't your thing, you might try filling these whoopie pies with peanut butter frosting.  Click here for the recipe. 

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup mashed ripe bananas (2 medium bananas)
1/4 cup sour cream
4 Tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.  Sift flour, baking powder and soda, and salt into a bowl and set aside.  In a small bowl, combine sour cream and mashed bananas and set that aside, too.

In the large bowl of an electric mixer, beat butter and both sugars on medium high speed until pale and creamy, about 3 minutes.  Add egg and vanilla, beating until incorporated.  Add banana mixture in 2 additions, alternating with flour mixture.

Drop rounded heaping tablespoons (or one scoop of a #40 cookie scoop) of batter onto lined baking sheets, 2 inches apart.  Bake until edges are golden, roughly 12 minutes.  Slide parchment, with cookies, onto wire racks and allow to cool completely.  (Unfilled cookies can be stored at room temperature between parchment paper for up to 1 day.)

Spread heaping tablespoon of frosting onto the flat side of each of the half of the total cookies.  Top with unfrosted cookie.  Filled cookies can be kept up to 1 day.  Enjoy!

Nutella Buttercream Filling
1/2 cup Nutella or chocolate hazelnut spread
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 Tablespoon milk
1 cup confectioner's sugar

In bowl of an electric mixer, beat Nutella and butter on medium high until fluffy and blended.  Add vanilla, milk, and sugar, beating on low until blended.  Increase speed to medium high and beat until combined and smooth.  (Buttercream can be covered and kept at room temperature for up to 1 day.)

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