Confession: I have a bad habit of day dreaming about the unknown, whether it’s a place I’m going to visit, event I’m going to attend, or present I’m about to receive, and getting really, REALLY high expectations, which almost always leads to disappointment. I know, I’m a brat. I try not to do it, but sometimes my imagination gets away from me. Occasionally though, that place or thing not only lives up to my expectations, it far exceeds them.
One of those times was when we moved to Brooklyn Heights. Jolian and I were moving in together and for some reason I got it in my head that Brooklyn Heights was where we needed to live. I’m not sure why. I hadn’t spent any time here. Maybe it stemmed from my undying love for The Cosby Show and secretly wanting to live next to Cliff and Claire! Before we moved, Jolian, aware of my tendency, tried his best to keep my expectations of our new neighborhood realistic. He would say to me, “You know we’re not moving to Paris? I think you have this idea it’s going to be some magical place like Paris. It’s not Paris.” He didn’t need to worry. Fortunately, it was everything I imagined it would be and after years of living here, I still find Brooklyn Heights magical. Every time I step onto the Promenade with its view of the Statue of Liberty, Brooklyn Bridge, and Manhattan skyline, or walk past the charming carriage houses that line Grace Court Alley, or stop in the world’s cutest pharmacy located on Love Lane I feel like I’m on the set of a Nora Ephron movie. I don’t ever want to live anywhere else.
Another such time was when I experienced my first New England fall. My senior year of high school, while all my friends were applying to Texas colleges, I decided to only apply to schools in New England before I’d ever visited the area. When I pictured college I dreamed of rowers on the river, ivy-covered red brick buildings, wearing sweaters, tights, and pea coats. I dreamed of brisk air and leaves on the sidewalk, crunching underneath my feet as I walked to class. I dreamed of fall. Growing up in Houston, I didn’t even own a coat before I left for Boston University. That first year as the temperatures dropped and leaves started to turn, I fell even more in love with fall than I thought I would. It instantly became and has remained my favorite time of year.
Now, I try to soak up every moment I can of this short season. I try to convince Jolian (try being the key word) to go apple picking and to pumpkin patches. I line our windowsills with gourds. I eat bowls of chili and drink mugs of hot apple cider. I indulge in pumpkin flavored desserts, my hands down favorite being the pumpkin whoopie pies from One Girl Cookies in Brooklyn. This adorable bakery takes two perfectly light and moist pumpkin cookies and fills them with most delicious cream cheese frosting flavored with maple syrup and warm spices. They are fall in cookie form. Luckily, especially for any of you non-New Yorkers, One Girl Cookies has a cookbook that includes the easy recipe for these treats. I made them last week and can now add them to my list of things that don’t disappoint. I bundled up my sweet baby (another non-disappointment!), walked out to the Promenade, and enjoyed a pumpkin whoopie pie as I gave thanks for all the things that have been better than I could’ve ever imagined. That’s really what this season is all about, right?
Pumpkin Whoopie Pies
Adapted from One Girl Cookies
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon table salt
- 1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin puree
- 2 cups packed light brown sugar
- 1 cup canola oil
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 2 tablespoons dark molasses
- Maple Spice Filling (recipe below)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, ginger, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the pumpkin puree, light brown sugar, canola oil, eggs, and molasses on medium speed for 3 minutes, until well combined. Scrape down the bowl and then turn the mixer on low speed. Slowly add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients, mixing for a total of 30 seconds, until the batter is just combined. Scrape down the bowl and make sure the batter is thoroughly mixed.
Fill a pastry bag fitted with a large round tip (I used a ziploc freezer bag for this and simply snipped off the corner) with the batter. Pipe the batter into 2-inch diameter circles onto the prepared baking sheet, leaving about 1 1/2-inches of space between each cookie. Keeping the pastry bag vertical while piping will help create even circles. (I pushed down the points on the cookies with my finger dipped in water) Keep the batter refrigerated between batches.
Bake for 10 minutes. Then rotate the baking sheet and bake for about 8 to 10 more minutes, until the cookies are a deep orange color and spring back when touched. Transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely before filling them.
Once cooled, turn half of the cookies bottom-side up. Place a small dollop of frosting on each bottom-side up cookie using a pastry bag. Place the remaining cookies on top of the frosted ones and gently press down to sandwich them together.
Maple Spice Filling
- 4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 tablespoon Grade B maple syrup
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Pinch of ground cloves
- 1/8 teaspoon table salt
- 3 cups confectioners sugar, plus more if needed
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the cream cheese and butter together on medium speed for 3 minutes, until light and fluffy. Scrape down the bowl and add the maple syrup, cinnamon, cloves, and salt. Mix on low speed for 30 seconds.
With the mixer on low, slowly add the confectioners sugar and then beat for 1 minute. Scrape down the bowl and make sure the filling is thoroughly mixed. The filling should hold its shape; so if it is too soft, add more confectioners sugar a tablespoon at a time until the consistency is right.
The filling can be made up to 5 days in advance, stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container with plastic wrap pressed against the surface of the filling.