There is a season: Pumpkin whoopie pies

  • What could be better this time of year than a pumpkin whoopie pie? AP/MOLLY PARR

For the Recorder
Published: 10/28/2020 8:47:50 AM

Two things remain true in October, even during a pandemic: We always end up with way too many sugar pumpkins, and, as a result, I always make these pumpkin whoopie pies with maple cream cheese frosting. My husband and I disagree on whether this is an easy cookie to make.

He argues that roasting a pumpkin is hard and too much to ask of someone. He’s wrong, and this cookie is worth it.

Roasting a pumpkin is easy and hands-off, although, yes, I do admit to asking for help to cut the pumpkin in half. But then it goes into the oven and the hard part is done! The rest of the recipe, adapted from Real Simple magazine that I’ve been using for at least 10 years, is done with whisks, no machine required (although electric beaters are useful for the frosting). My 7-year-old is my sidekick in the kitchen for this one.

The cookie is delicious, a true scene stealer. Before I moved to Northampton to work for Smith, I worked at Perkins School for the Blind, and I would bring these in for the fall bake sale. They were always the high-ticket item on the table.

To roast the pumpkin, wash it first, then cut (or have someone cut) your two pound-ish sugar pumpkin in half, laterally. Clean out the pumpkin seeds (to roast separately for a fun snack) and brush the outside with a neutral oil. Lay it, belly side down, on a baking sheet and roast in a 350F oven for 45 minutes. Once removed from the oven, give it a few minutes to handle, but then the skin peels right off.

If the maple is just too much autumn for you, replace it with a half cup of confectioner’s sugar.

Pumpkin whoopie pies

Adapted from Real Simple



1 ½ cups all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled

1 ½ teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

½ teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup pure pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling; a 2-3 pound sugar pumpkin)

½ cup granulated sugar

½ cup packed light brown sugar

½ cup canola oil

1 large egg

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature

4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup confectioners’ sugar

2 to 3 teaspoons maple syrup

½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract


Remove the cream cheese and butter from refrigeration before starting the cookies.

Make the cookies: Heat oven to 350F with the racks in the upper and lower thirds. Line 2 large rimmed baking sheets with parchment. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the pumpkin puree, sugars, oil, egg, and vanilla until combined. Mix in the flour mixture until just moistened (do not overmix).

Drop mounds of the dough (about 2 tablespoons each) onto the baking sheets, spacing them 2 inches apart. Bake until golden and firm to the touch, 12 to 14 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes in the pan, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Make the filling: With an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese, butter, confectioners’ sugar, maple syrup and vanilla until fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes.

Make the whoopie pies: Spread a heaping tablespoon of filling on the flat side of half the cookies. Top with the remaining cookies. If soft, chill for 20 to 25 minutes.

Storage suggestion: Keep the whoopie pies refrigerated, between sheets of wax paper in an airtight container, for up to 1 day. Bring to room temperature before serving, if desired.

Molly Parr lives in Florence with her husband and two young daughters. She's been writing her food blog, Cheap Beets, since 2010. She was furloughed from Smith for the summer and is using the time to work on her first cookbook. Send questions or comments to


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