Vegan Halloween Whoopie Pies
October 30, 2019

These vegan Halloween whoopie pies are whimsical and fun to make with kids! They feature soft-baked chocolate cookies and a pumpkin cream filling.

A photograph of a vegan chocolate and pumpkin whoopie pie, just bitten into and stacked on top of another pie.

If you’re looking for a whimsical Halloween party favor or baking project, these vegan Halloween whoopie pies are it!

As I was sitting down to write this post I thought I’d make a joke about how it was the first dessert I’d posted in ages that isn’t cake. But then I realized that of course whoopie pies are cake. Just small cakes, shaped into sandwiches. So the cake parade continues 🙂

The cake base here is the same one I use for these chocolate peanut butter cupcakes and this dark chocolate pear cake, only with slightly less liquid. It’s tried-and-true in my kitchen at this point. I had so much fun turning it into this seasonal, October treat.

Cake vs. cookie: the beauty of whoopie pies

Why vegan whoopie pies? Because they’re the best of both (dessert) worlds.

Whoopie pies are basically a cross between cake, or cupcake, and cookie. The outside of the pies is supposed to be soft and cake-like. The filling is some sort of frosting or cream.

If you’re wondering, as I have been, how whoopie pies got their name, there are apparently two theories. The first is that whoopie pies were thrown out to audience members during a 1920 performance of the play Whoopee! in Boston. The second is that whoopie pies originated in Pennsylvania Dutch Country. When Amish women gave them to their families, husbands and kids were apparently so excited that they exclaimed, “whoopie!”

Regardless of their origins, whoopie pies are undeniably fun. They’re also cleverly constructed gift ideas. Whoopie pies are sturdier than cupcakes, but with a similar texture and taste. You don’t have to worry about piping their frosting into neat, pretty swirls (though I have nothing against pretty frosting swirls). And they’re stress-free to transport because the frosting is safely nestled between the cake-like cookies.

As someone who likes cookies but finds cake more satisfying, I appreciate these neatly packaged treats so much. As far as cookies go, I’ve always been a fan of soft cookies. Why not make them even more enticing with a little frosting? Pumpkin frosting, no less?

A sideways photograph of a neat stack of vegan Halloween whoopie pies, made with soft chocolate cookies and pumpkin cream.

Making vegan Halloween whoopie pies

There are some steps involved in making these whoopie pies, but rest assured that they’re easier than both cake and cupcakes. You don’t have to use a piping bag for the icing, though I sometimes find that piping is actually faster than spreading. If you’d like to pipe, I like this bag (with these tips), or you can use a plastic bag for a DIY approach.

The soft chocolate cookies can be made a day or two in advance of assembling the Halloween whoopie pies. You can store them at room temperature for that long. Just be sure to pop them into an airtight container in the fridge after two days for longer storage.

If you like to get even more advanced with your dessert prep, you can freeze the cookie component of the whoopie pies for up to six weeks. Simply defrost prior to making your icing and getting ready to decorate.

Vegan whoopie pie ingredients

Flour

I use unbleached, all-purpose flour, my go-to, in this recipe. If you like, you can substitute a gluten free, all-purpose blend that you’ve had good results with in the past. I really love King Arthur’s Measure for Measure flour when I bake for GF friends and guests.

Vegan butter

Earth Balance is my standard vegan butter for buttercream or cream cheese frosting. It’s more affordable than some of the newer brands, which is convenient for baking. I tend to save fancier and pricier butters for spreading on good bread. You can use a vegan butter brand that’s appropriate for your budget, taste, and health needs.

Pumpkin pie spice + turmeric

Plot twist: there isn’t actually any pumpkin in the pumpkin buttercream! It’s a vanilla frosting that tastes like pumpkin season because of pumpkin pie spice. Turmeric gives it a faintly golden color. If you don’t have pumpkin pie spice on hand, follow the recipe instructions for substituting other spices from your spice rack.

Vegetable oil

The soft-baked vegan chocolate cookies in these whoopie pies use neutral vegetable oil as a fat. I love refined avocado oil, grapeseed oil, and safflower oil for baking.

Cocoa powder

No matter how many times I read about the different types of cocoa powder, I still manage to get myself confused. Natural vs. dutch process vs. black cocoa: what’s the difference?

To make a long story short, dutch process cocoa is the best choice in baked goods that use baking powder as the main leavening agent. Natural process is better if baking soda is the main leavening agent in your treat. Since baking powder is the main leavening agent in these vegan Halloween whoopie pies, and because I liked the dark (almost black) color for Halloween, I went with black cocoa.

Regular dutch process or natural cocoa powder are also fine choices. But I think dutch process tastes more intense than natural!

A chocolate and pumpkin vegan whoopie pie, served on a small dessert plate with a crumpled sheet of parchment.

A photograph of a vegan chocolate and pumpkin whoopie pie, just bitten into and stacked on top of another pie.
4 from 1 vote

Vegan Halloween Whoopie Pies

Author - Gena Hamshaw
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Cooling time 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 35 minutes
Yields: 20 servings

Ingredients

For the Chocolate Cakes

  • 2 cups (240 g) unbleached, all-purpose flour*
  • 1/2 cup (40 g) dutch process or natural cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cup +2 tablespoons (168 g) coconut or cane sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup (79 mL) neutral vegetable oil (such as safflower, grapeseed, canola, or refined avocado)
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider or white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (237 mL) cold water (and a few extra tablespoons as needed)

For the Pumpkin Spice Buttercream

  • 8 tablespoons (112 g) vegan butter (1 stick)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
  • 1 teaspoon (330 g) pumpkin pie spice (or 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, 1/2 teaspoon ginger powder, and a pinch of cloves)
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1-3 tablespoons (15-45 mL) non-dairy milk of choice (as needed)

Instructions

  • Preheat your oven to 350F. Line two baking sheets with parchment.
  • Whisk the flour, cocoa, sugar, salt, baking powder and baking soda together in a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the water, vinegar, vanilla and oil. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and whisk until batter is glossy and smooth. If the mixture isn't yet glossy, add an extra few tablespoons of water as needed (up to 1/4 cup).
  • Use a 1.5-2 tablespoon cookie scoop (or a spoon) to drop the cake batter in rounds onto your cookie sheet. You can make larger or smaller whoopie pies by adjusting how big your mini-cakes are (mine were about 2 inches across before baking and a little wider after). Bake the mini-cakes for 8-10 minutes, or until set but not browning. Cool the cakes on a cooling rack for an hour or two, or until fully cooled.
  • To prepare the buttercream, place the butter and vanilla into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on low speed for 1-2 minutes, or until the butter is soft and fluffy. Mix the sugar, pumpkin pie spice, and turmeric, then add this mixture in 2-3 installments, beating on medium speed as you go. If the vegan butter you use isn't salted, add a pinch of salt, too.
  • Add 1-3 tablespoons of non-dairy milk to the buttercream and continue beating until it's still rich and firm, but soft enough to pipe. Add the milk slowly and use your judgment: you can add more milk if it's too firm or a little more sugar if it accidentally gets runny.
  • When the buttercream is ready, place it in a piping bag and pipe out two tablespoons onto the bottom of one of your mini-cakes in a circle pattern. Place another mini-cake on top and press gently to make the whoopie pie. Continue with the remaining buttercream and cakes; you should get about 18-24, depending on the size of your cakes! Enjoy.

Notes

*In place of all-purpose flour, you can use light spelt, whole wheat pastry, or gluten-free all-purpose flour.

A vegan whoopie pie, made with chocolate cookies and pumpkin spice buttercream filling, just bitten into. The cookie rests on a sheet of parchment.

These whoopie pies are sort of my dream dessert. They’re a perfect answer to cake cravings, but less of a commitment than a cupcake. They’ve got just enough buttercream to be decidedly sweet, but the cake to frosting ratio is skewed in favor of cake. I like that.

Vegan Halloween whoopie pies are lovely for sharing. Give them to trick-or-treaters, offer them to classmates or coworkers, or simply share with family and friends.

I don’t have big Halloween plans, but it’s a holiday that I love. I always find a way to celebrate, even if that’s just watching a scary movie or smiling at kids in their costumes romping about in my neighborhood. I’m happy to add a good homemade dessert to the celebration this year.

Happy Halloween, friends. I’ll see you for the weekend roundup.

xo

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    4 Comments
  1. With Halloween coming up, I thought this would be a great way to celebrate! However, I was wondering if you’ve had success with using spelt flour or gluten-free. Would the liquids need to be adjusted?

    • Hi Shar! Spelt might require more liquid, and to be honest, I haven’t tried it. But I think that a GF, all purpose flour blend would work well, and I suspect the liquid:flour ratio would be the same! If you try it, let me know how it goes.

  2. 4 stars
    I made these for a Halloween party and they turned out great. I added maybe 1/4 cup more water to the cake batter than the recipe called for. I appreciated the tip that the batter should look shiny, that helped me know to add more liquid.