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