Strawberry Whoopie Pies, Champagne & Meyer Lemon Buttercream

My sister just turned 28.  She’s 6 months pregnant and moving. I thought she might need a treat for her birthday! Growing up, my mom always made double-layered strawberry cake with strawberry icing for my sister’s birthday.  It was a beautiful pinkish red color, with flecks of fresh strawberry throughout the icing.  A perfect cake for a February birthday.  My favorite thing to do was to stick my small finger, inconspicuously of course, into the icing and sneak a small bite of the sweet and luscious icing.

It’s not easy to mail my mom’s strawberry cake.  In fact, it might be impossible.  And so I began perusing many of the recipes I have cut out from a multitude magazines and books, looking for a satisfying alternative.  I eventually decided on whoopie pies, incorporating the familiar flavors of the strawberry cake.

For the pies, I tried 2 types of pans – a regular sheet tray and a muffin pan.  Both products turned out well, but I liked the uniformity of the muffin pan pies best.  Those baked on the sheet tray were a slightly irregular around the edges and did not rise evenly.  But if you like a more rustic, homemade look, go for it!

The recipes…

Strawberry Whoopie Pies
1 cup fresh strawberries, rinsed and stemmed
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup honey
1 tsp almond extract
1 tsp vanilla extract
2/3 cup canola oil
1/2 cup plain or vanilla yogurt
2 large eggs

Preheat oven to 400F
Begin by measuring flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; sift together and set aside
In a food processor, pulse strawberries  5-7 times (it’s important that berries have texture and do not reach a pureed consistency,)
Measure and combine sugar, honey, vanilla and almond extracts, oil, yogurt, and strawberries.
Add eggs 1 at a time and mix until smooth
Stir in flour, and mix until just combined.  Batter may still be lumpy, but that’s okay
Chill for 30 – 60 minutes
Butter pan and drop scoops of batter onto pan.  If using a sheet tray, leave about 1″ in between each scoop.  (I used a little bit less batter when scooping into the muffin pan)
Bake for 8-10 minutes, until just golden brown on top.

Champagne and Meyer Lemon Buttercream
1 cup butter, room temperature
3 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar
4 Tbsp champagne
4 Tbsp meyer lemon juice
2 tsp meyer lemon zest
Pinch of salt

Beat butter until soft.  Add sugar and whip until light and fluffy.  Add in champagne, lemon juice, and lemon zest and beat until combined. Chill until ready to use.

To assemble whoopie pies, pipe a generous amount of buttercream onto 1 side of a pie and then top with other side! I added a slice of fresh strawberry in the middle of each pie before topping to give it an extra taste of fresh strawberry!

… enjoy!