Red Velvet Whoopie Pies, by Joanna.
September 20, 2012 § 2 Comments
OMG it’s my little sister Joanna! Joanna recently graduated from college with a B.A. in Anthropology and minors in Spanish and Religious Studies. And now she’s trying to figure out WTF to do with a B.A. in Anthropology and minors in Spanish and Religious Studies. I just tried these cookies and think she should open a bakery. -Lillian
The space between one phase/state and another is called liminality in anthropology. This is the transitional phase, and it comes from the Latin word for “threshold.” Many cultures go to great lengths to guard against this state, usually using rituals or strict rules. It’s a dangerous region where anything can happen: you are not one thing nor another; there is no structure or order; it’s like floating in an abyss full of uncertainty and ambiguity, and hoping to come out on the other side. Sounds fun, yes? For me, this area is also called post-graduation. Oh, happy times!
Post-college, I decided to hold off furthering my education and instead glide into a life of full-time-job-stability. My schedule would be set: no more ungodly early coffee shop hours, no more working for tips, no more weekend shifts (hallelujah!). A new, shiny stage, and munayyy to burn, honey booboo chile!
…Cue the wah-wah noise. Turns out, liminality came back to bite me in the you-know-what. As a 9-5er, I was commuting 1 ½ hours each day (in a gas-guzzling Blazer, mind you), bored to death, and having to pull money from savings to support myself. I was miserable, so I quit. Now, I’m back to the service industry, waiting tables, and sighing heavily on the weekends, in preparation for work.
But… It’s okay, I’ve realized. We have liminal stages, and we can’t escape them. I tried to bypass swimming in obscurity by forcing myself into what I thought was a mature, steady life. People guard against liminality because it translates as “the unknown,” and that’s scary. James Taylor said that the secret to life is enjoying the passage of time. It sounds simple, but these words are golden: to actually enjoy the space between phases, instead of combating it—refusing to agonize over the future or the past, letting yourself be right in the middle of the passage, and liking what you see. My threshold has given me a cookie recipe, and used the time I used to spend driving in rush hour to bake them.
I decided on a Red Velvet Whoopie Pie with Cream Cheese Frosting. The special thing about this cookie is that the red comes not from dye, but from beets. That’s right. Earthy, rooty, beets. Just like liminal phases, these beets will surprise you.
So, here we go… The baking. Now I have to preface this by saying that I am no baker. Repeat: I did NOT inherit the baking genes of which my beautiful and precise sister Lillian boasts. I love to cook, but part of my love of cooking is the ability to be (as my dad describes my method) “fast and loose.” Furthermore, I just seem to have bad luck baking. Case in point, as I was pureeing the beets used for this recipe, the circle plastic thing that goes in the middle of the blender lid dropped into the blender as it was blending, sending pieces of plastic everywhere, including throughout my beets. So, of course, I had to literally plop every small spoonful of pureed beets into my hand to carefully extract each and every little plastic chard before putting it into the measuring cup. (Please scroll to the 21 second mark of this video.)
So, that said. Here’s the recipe! (Watch your moveable parts! –Lillian)
1 cup sugar (granulated)
¾ cup coconut oil
¾ cup red beet puree
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
½ cup agave nectar
½ cup cocoa powder
2 ½ cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp sea salt
1. In a large bowl whisk together the coconut oil and sugar. I had to melt the coconut oil in increments in the microwave because it hardens at room temperature here.
2. Beat in the beet puree, vanilla, and agave until smooth.
3. In a smaller bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, salt, and baking powder. Add this to the big bowl with the beets.
4. Leave this mixture in the fridge overnight to firm (yes, sometimes liminal stages take time). I just covered the bowl tightly with a plastic bag and threw it in there.
5. The next day (or at least until the dough is pretty firm), roll the dough into 2-3 inch balls, and bake them in a 375 degree oven on a baking sheet covered in parchment paper. Let cool when done. I smooshed mine flat a bit right out of the oven to prepare them for their fate as whoopie pies.
As they are cooling (or baking if you prefer), make your frosting:
8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
5 Tbsp butter, soft
2 Tbsp vanilla extract
2 cups powered sugar
Whisk the cream cheese, the butter, and the vanilla together. Add the powered sugar in increments until the sweetness suits your taste. I used about 1 1/3 cups.
Drop a dollop onto a cookie and smoosh it together with another one. I like to keep them in the fridge so they stay cold.
So, these cookies did not come out as red as I was hoping, unfortunately. Just as my 9-5 gig did not come out as lovely. Next time, I might have to add some red food coloring just for presentation. But hey, they taste sensational, and after all, that’s what cookies (and liminal stages) are for, right?