Gingerbread Whoopie Pies with Lemon Cream Cheese Filling

I hope you’re not sick of gingerbread treats because apparently I’ve developed an obsession with them this year. A second post in 5 days? Would you believe I’ve never even been a huge gingerbread fan in the past? Sure, I liked it, but I never craved it, and I certainly didn’t find myself unable to resist the lure of the molasses every time I opened the fridge to grab baking ingredients.  Whatever the reason, I am loving its warm, spicy flavor lately, so I can promise you this probably won’t be the last gingerbread post you see this month.  

Speaking of gingerbread, I came this close to attempting my first from-scratch gingerbread house this year.  Then I came to my senses, realized I don’t have anywhere near enough patience for something like that, and bought a kit :)

Gingerbread Whoopie Pies with Lemon Cream Cheese Filling

While my infatuation with gingerbread is new, my love of the whoopie pie is not.  This is probably the 10th variation I’ve tried this year, and I’ve definitely got a few more holiday flavor combos in mind.  Now if only December were about 2 or 3 weeks longer so I could find time to share them all with you!  I bookmarked this recipe for gingerbread whoopie pies last year, and have so been looking forward to trying it.  Soft, spicy little gingerbread cookie cakes with a sweet and tangy lemon cream cheese filling – it’s the perfect little 3 bite holiday treat.  Don’t be afraid of the lemon/gingerbread combo, I know it sounds a little unusual, but the flavors work so well together!  I won’t tell you how many “extra” cookies I ate smeared with just a little of the frosting before stashing these in the back of my fridge.   I love that whoopie pies are so easy to transport and share (it’s one of the big reasons I’m such a huge fan of them), and I’ll be sending these out the door later today with a friend, but not before I snag one more for me :)

Gingerbread Whoopie Pies with Lemon Cream Cheese Filling
cookies from Pink Parsley (who adapted from King Arthur Flour), filling adapted from Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes

Cookies
3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
3/4 cup molasses
3/4 cup buttermilk

Filling
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
6 oz cream cheese, softened
2 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1/4 plus 1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
3/4 teaspoon lemon extract

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

Whisk the flour, salt, baking, soda, ginger, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg together in a medium bowl. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and brown sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg, beating to incorporate, then scrape down the sides of the bowl. With the mixer on low, add one third of the dry ingredients, followed by the molasses, then half of the remaining dry ingredients, followed by the buttermilk, and finally, the rest of the dry ingredients. Beat only until incorporated.

Using a small cookie scoop (mine measures about 1 1/2 inches across – you’ll need to adjust the baking time accordingly if yours is larger), portion the batter onto the prepared baking sheets, spacing the cookies about 2 inches apart. Bake for 10-12 minutes (rotating the baking sheets halfway through), or until the cookies spring back when gently pressed. Transfer the baking sheets to wire racks and let the cookies cool for 5 minutes then remove the cookies to the racks to cool completely. Repeat with remaining dough.

To make the filling: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and cream cheese on medium speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the confectioners’ sugar 1/2 cup at a time, scraping the sides of the bowl in between additions. Beat in the vanilla extract, lemon zest and lemon extract. With mixer on medium, beat for another minute or so, until the frosting is smooth and fluffy.

Match the cookies in pairs by size. Transfer the filling to a piping bag and pipe a small amount onto the flat side of one cookie of each pair. Sandwich the cookies together, and press the filling to the edges.

Makes about 30-32 cookie sandwiches