These Apple Cider Whoopie Pies are moist and flavorful cakes made with apple cider and applesauce, plus a rich caramel cream cheese frosting to bring them together. And for good measure, sprinkled over the top, is a little salted caramel sugar. Yum! These are a definite must-try recipe!
is a whoopie pie a cake, a pie, or cookie?
Whoopie pies are small cakes that are baked as cookies on a baking sheet. You take one of the small chocolate cakes, spread on the frosting or filling, then you top it with another small cake. Wah-la, a whoopie pie!
Some people have even referred to them as inside-out cupcakes, but I've always thought of them as sandwiched cakes.
why is it called a whoopie pie?
Whoopie pies are a well-known Pennsylvania German and Lancaster Amish tradition that are also known as "Gobs" to those that live out in Western PA. They are also considered to be a classic from the New England states as well. It's believed that whoopie pies came from left over cake batter that were placed in children's lunches.
When the children would open up their lunch and saw them, they'd (allegedly) yell, "Whoopie!" I don't know if this is exactly true or not, but what I do know is they are unbelievably delicious! And over the years there have been many different variations of whoopie pies made, but the classic has always been chocolate cake with marshmallow filling or vanilla buttercream frosting.
And if you ever get the chance, you need to make your way to Strasburg, PA for the Whoopie Pie Festival! I missed it the last 2 years, but I've been to it twice before and sweet Lord, there are so many whoopie pies it's crazy! To give you an idea of what it's like, there is literally a giant tent filled with every whoopie pie imaginable! They even have the largest whoopie pie ever on display!
quick tips for making homemade apple cider whoopie pies
apple cider whoopie pie cakes
- The reason we boil down the apple cider in this whoopie pie recipe is to give it a stronger, more concentrated flavor. Do not use just the straight up apple cider from the jug.
- Boiling down the apple cider takes roughly 10-15 minutes. Make sure to cool the apple cider completely before you begin baking the apple cider whoopie pie cakes.
- Using my 1 ½ tablespoon cookie scoop, I was able to get 8 cakes on my larger baking sheet, and 6 with my smaller size.
- For larger-size whoopie pies, you can try a 2 tablespoon cookie scoop.
- To avoid whoopie pie cakes from sticking to parchment paper, I recommend very lightly spraying it with a flour-based baking spray. You can also save a tree and choose to use a silicone baking mat.
- Salted caramel sugar may be hard to find where you live. Your local kitchen shops may carry it, or you can always order it online. I was able to find some at this Spice and Tea Exchange store in Lancaster, PA. Not a sponsored plug - I just really liked their store, and it's important to shop local as much as possible!
caramel cream cheese frosting
- You can use any store-bought jar of caramel sauce or topping for this caramel cream cheese frosting recipe.
- If you can't find salted caramel sugar for sprinkling, you can omit that step and instead use a salted caramel sauce in the frosting recipe.
- You can use an offset spatula to add the frosting to the whoopie pie cakes. You can also pipe the frosting on, which is what I did.
- I used the Wilton 1A piping tip and a large piping bag. Worked perfectly!
- If needed, the caramel cream cheese frosting can be kept tightly covered in the mixing bowl in the fridge overnight. Before using, allow the frosting to come to room temperature, then re-whip using your mixer.
general baking tips
- You can easily double both the whoopie pie cake and caramel cream cheese frosting recipes for more whoopie pies!
- I recommend keeping the apple cider whoopie pies tightly wrapped in plastic wrap in an airtight container, and in the fridge for 3 to 5 days. Or, you can tightly wrap them in plastic wrap, place them in a sealed freezer bag or container, and keep in the freezer where they can last about 3 months. Allow them to come to room temperature before eating.
recommended baking tools for making whoopie pies
These Apple Cider Whoopie Pies are moist and flavorful cakes made with apple cider and applesauce, plus a rich caramel cream cheese frosting to bring them together. And for good measure, sprinkled over the top, is a little salted caramel sugar. Yum! These are a must-try this season!
whoopie pie cakes
- 1 cup Apple Cider, boiled down to ¼ cup
- 2 cups (279 grams) All-Purpose Flour
- 2 teaspoons Baking Powder
- 1 ½ teaspoons Cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon Nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon Apple Pie Spice
- ¼ teaspoon Salt
- ½ cup (113 grams) Unsalted Butter
- ½ cup (104 grams) Granulated Sugar
- ½ cup (101 grams) Light Brown Sugar, lightly packed
- 2 Large Eggs, room temperature
- ¼ cup (71 grams) Unsweetened Applesauce
- Salted Caramel Sugar - for sprinkling the whoopie pie tops
caramel cream cheese frosting
- 4 ounces Full-fat Cream Cheese, softened
- 2 tablespoons Unsalted Butter, room temperature
- ¼ cup Caramel Sauce, store-bought
- 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
- 2 - 2 ½ cups Confectioners Sugar, sifted
- 1-2 tablespoons Milk or Heavy Whipping Cream - only to be used if needed to thin out the frosting
whoopie pie cakes
- In a small saucepan over high heat, bring the 1 cup of apple cider to a rapid boil until it's reduced to ¼ cup (takes about 10-15 minutes). Allow to cool completely.
- Adjust oven rack to 2nd level position and pre-heat the oven to 350ºF. Line baking sheets with parchment paper and very lightly spray with a flour-based baking spray. Alternatively, you can use a silicone baking mat without spraying it. Set to the side.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the all-purpose flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, apple pie spice, and salt. Set to the side.
- Using your hand-held mixer or a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the unsalted butter, granulated sugar, and light brown sugar together on medium-high speed until well blended. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
- Add in the eggs, unsweetened applesauce, and cooled apple cider (remember, only ¼ cup), then mix until completely blended. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
- Reduce the mixer speed to low and gradually add in the whisked dry mixture. Mix together until just combined.
- Using a 1 ½ tablespoon-size cookie scoop (recommended), drop a generous scoop of apple cider cake batter on to the lined baking sheet, spacing each cake about 1 ½- to 2-inches apart (they will spread out, but not by a lot).
- Sprinkle the tops with a little of the salted caramel sugar, then place in the oven and bake at 375ºF for 12-15 minutes or until the center of the cakes spring back when lightly pressed.
- Remove from oven and, if so desired, sprinkle the tops with just a little more salted caramel sugar.
- Allow cakes to cool slightly on the baking sheet for about 5 minutes before carefully transferring them to a cooling rack.
peanut butter frosting
- Using your hand-held mixer or a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and unsalted butter together until smooth and creamy. Add in the caramel sauce and vanilla extract.
- Switch the mixer speed to low and gradually add in the sifted confectioners sugar. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
- If your frosting is too thick, you can add 1 tablespoon of milk or heavy whipping cream to thin it out a little. Likewise, if you feel your frosting isn't thick enough, add a little more sifted confectioners sugar.
assembling the apple cider whoopie pies
- Using a small offset spatula or a piping bag fitted with a piping tip of your choice (I used the Wilton 1A piping tip), add the caramel cream cheese frosting to the bottom of a whoopie pie cake. Then top with another cake. Repeat until all the whoopie pies have been assembled, then enjoy!
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