As it draws closer to Christmas, I had the sudden urge to have mandarin oranges. My brother and I used to have little orange eating contests when we were younger. We’d line up half dozen or more of them for each of us, peeled and ready to go. We’d count down: 3, 2, 1….Go!! And gorge on the oranges, racing to beat our sibling. We’d both be dripping with orange juice and our mother wasn’t altogether impressed with this contest. Did I mention we were in our teens? Yup, we were definitely the mature ones of the four boys in the house.
That orange flavour always transports me back to those times and even earlier, when Santa would leave an orange in the toe of my stocking along with other goodies. As much as a big chocolate Santa is great, it was the orange that was always the best part.
Thinking of that chocolate Santa and the orange from my stocking, I wanted to make a dessert/treat to combine those flavours. I thought of the American classic treat: Whoopie Pie.
What is a Whoopie Pie?
For those not familiar with it, it sounds like a vague euphemism. It’s actually two cake-like cookies sandwiching a creamy frosting in the middle. The filling could be anything from a basic vanilla frosting to a marshmallow spread to something a little different, like my mandarin orange filling.
The other inspiration for this treat came from a non-food source. A music video. I listen to some unusual music sometimes and one such video involves a fictitious alien invasion to take away all of the Earth’s coffee. The invaders had warships that sort of looked like Whoopie Pies with an orange filling. So I thought between my fun childhood memories and a silly video, I’d make Mocha Mandarin Orange Whoopie Pies!! So ward off the alien attack and enjoy!!
Mocha Mandarin Orange Whoopie Pies:
For the Mocha Cake Cookie:
1/2 cup softened butter
1 cup white sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup cocoa powder
2 cups + 2 Tbsp spelt flour
1-1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup strong brewed coffee
Preheat oven to 180C/350F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
In a small bowl, combine the milk and coffee.
In a stand mixer (or a large bowl with a hand mixer), beat together the butter, sugar and eggs until smooth and slightly thicker in texture (about 45-60 seconds). Add the vanilla and beat for another 30 seconds. Add 1/3 of the dry mixture, beating together until smooth. Add 1/3 of the coffee-milk mixture and beat until smooth. Add another 1/3 of the dry mixture, beating during each addition and when it’s smooth add the next 1/3 of the coffee-milk mixture. Beat together until smooth. Add the final 1/3 of the dry mixture and beat until smooth. Add the final 1/3 of the coffee-milk mixture and beat until a smooth batter is formed.
Scoop 1/3 cup portions on the baking sheets, leaving at least 5cm/2″ between each portion. Bake on the middle rack of the preheated oven for 15 minutes. Allow to cool on the pans for 2 hours. While the cake cookies cool, you can do the filling.
For the Mandarin Orange Syrup:
1/2 cup freshly squeezed mandarin orange juice (about 3-5 oranges depending on size. Be sure to remove the zest from them before squeezing as well)
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup white sugar
In a small pot, over medium high heat, add the juice, water and sugar. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to medium and simmer for 15 minutes. Take off the heat and cool. Set aside.
For the Carrot-Orange Cream Cheese Filling:
2 large carrots, peeled and roughly chopped (about 1 cup total)
1/2 cup Mandarin Orange Syrup
1/2 cup cream cheese
Zest of 2-3 mandarin oranges (about 2 Tbsp)
In a small pot of boiling water, add the carrots. Cover with a lid, reduce heat to medium and simmer for 20-25 minutes or until very soft. Drain away the water. Transfer the cooked carrots to a blender with the Mandarin Orange Syrup. Purée until smooth. Transfer to a medium bowl with the orange zest and cream cheese. Stir together until smoothly combined.
Turn one of the Mocha Cake Cookies so the flat side is facing up. Add a 1/3 cup dollop of prepared Carrot-Orange Cream Cheese Filling in the centre:
Spread the filling to the edges and press the flat side of another Mocha Cake Cookie on top. There’s enough filling for about half of the cake cookies. The rest freezes beautifully and could be used as a cookie for ice cream sandwiches!!