Banana Whoopie Pies

It seems that I always have one or two bananas left on the counter at the end of the week.  I get tired of making the same thing, banana bread or banana muffins, so I searched around for something else that would be fun to make with nicely ripened bananas.  KAF (King Arthur Flour) led me to this spectacular whoopie pie recipe.  I have always loved the concept of whoopie pies.  They are like cupcakes, or cake, but in a less messy kind of way.  The possibilities of these fun treats are endless, red velvet, German chocolate, carrot cake, pumpkin, chocolate chip, etc.  Let your imagination go wild.  My co-workers and husband all loved these sweet bites of deliciousness.

Banana Whoopie Pies

For the cookies
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups (3 medium to large) mashed bananas
2 large eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup chopped walnuts

For the filling
1/2 cup cream cheese, at room temperature
3 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 to 2 tablespoons milk as needed
3/4 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease two baking sheets, or line with parchment paper.

For the cookies: In a large bowl, cream together the butter, sugars, and salt until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla, and then the bananas. The mixture will look curdled; that’s OK. Beat in the eggs, one at a time.  Whisk together the flour and baking soda; add to the banana mixture, mixing until evenly combined. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl, then mix for 1 minute more.  Stir in the walnuts.  Scoop the dough by the quarter cup for large cookies, and by the tablespoon for small cookies. Allow plenty of space between them.  Bake for 12 to 14 minutes, until the tops spring back when lightly touched with your finger, and the edges are a very light golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes before transferring the cookies to a rack to finish cooling completely before filling.

For the filling: Beat together the cream cheese, confectioners’ sugar, and vanilla until smooth. Add just enough milk to make the mixture a spreadable consistency. Stir in the walnuts.

To assemble: Go through all of the cookie and match them up into pairs that are sized most alike.  Spread (or pipe) the bottom of one of the cookies per pair with 2 tablespoons of the filling.  Place cookies in refrigerator until filling has set (about 20 to 30 minutes).  Place the other cookie from the pair on top of the filling, bottom side down. 

Recipe slightly adapted from King Arthur Flour

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