Red velvet whoopie pies are the perfect dessert for Valentine’s Day.

Red velvet whoopie pies are the perfect dessert for Valentine’s Day.

This is a rare treat. Thank you to Sweetie Pies of Dexter for creating a Valentine’s Day Whoopie Pie just for The Yankee Chef, and thusly to you readers. Heather, the owner of Sweetie Pie’s, was named 2016 Best New Baker as well as the winner of my inaugural category, Best Yankee Whoopie Pie of 2016. Although lengthy looking, this recipe is the best of the best when it comes to a Red Velvet Whoopie Pie, and I think you will agree, it is no wonder she has the best Whoopie Pies in New England.

Filling:

1 cup sliced, fresh strawberries 1/4 cup water 1/4 cup sugar

4 cups powdered sugar

1(8-ounce)package cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup butter or margarine, room temperature 3 tablespoons flour 1 teaspoon vanilla pinch of salt For the cake: 1/4 cup butter or margarine, room temperature

1/4 cup vegetable shortening

1 cup sugar

1 egg

2 teaspoons red icing gel *

1 teaspoon vanilla

21/4 cups flour

1/4 cup Dutch processed baking cocoa

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon each baking soda and baking powder

1/2 cup sour cream

1/2 cup buttermilk

1/4 cup hot water

In a medium saucepan, bring strawberries, water and sugar to a boil over medium-low heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer 10 minutes. Remove from heat, transfer to a blender and puree on high until as smooth as possible. Transfer to a bowl; cover and refrigerate until chilled.

For the cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or grease liberally with nonstick cooking spray. In the bowl of a stand mixer, add butter, shortening, sugar, egg, icing gel and vanilla, mixing until light and fluffy; set aside. In a separate bowl, mix flour, cocoa, salt, baking soda and baking powder.

On low speed, beat in sour cream, buttermilk and hot water, scraping down sides as needed. Slowly add flour mixture to butter mixture, mixing just until smooth. Do not overmix! Using an ice cream scoop, dollop batter onto parchment lined cookie sheet, 2 to 3 inches apart. Bake 10 to 12 minutes, or until springy to the touch. Remove from oven, cool slightly before transferring to a rack to completely cool.

Meanwhile, beat cream cheese and butter until smooth. Slowly add powdered sugar, flour and salt until well incorporated. Fold in 1/3-1/2-cup chilled strawberry mixture until as thick or as thin as desired for filling. Freeze leftover syrup, as it can be used for frosting, milkshakes and much more! Scoop desired amount of filling onto one cake and top with another.

Makes 9 (4-inch)Whoopie Pies

* I highly suggest using icing gel because of its vibrant results. You are, however, able to substitute liquid food coloring if desired, but it will take at least 1 tablespoon or more.

— Chef Jim Bailey is The Yankee Chef and an authority on New England food and its history. He is a respected food columnist from Maine and is married with four children. You can email questions or comments to [email protected] and visit theyankeechef. blogspot.com.