I’ve always secretly envied people who can jog for long distances without blinking an eye. On marathon day in NYC last November, I walked around the Upper West Side, where I live, enamored by all of the runners who had finished the 26.2 mile race and who looked great as they hung around with family and friends and headed out to celebrate. If I ran 26.2 miles in one race, I can assure you that I’d be a frightening sight at the end of it.
About a year ago, Scott and I decided we wanted to start jogging regularly. My longest run prior to this was 1 mile. (laugh) Back in high school on the JV soccer team, we’d start each practice with a 1 mile run. I can vividly remember complaining sometimes about an achy this or achy that to make myself exempt from that day’s run. (so sneaky) I just never enjoyed running and could never psych myself into doing it for long.
So, back to last year. We jogged from Scott’s old digs on 157th St. along the Hudson River on Riverside Drive until we reached Grant’s Tomb. That’s about 30 blocks, which, in lay terms, is about a mile and a half. By the end of it, I was practically dead. As the summer, fall and winter progressed, I jogged as regularly as possible and got up to a good 3 1/2 miles without stopping, at about 8.20/mile. I honestly could not get past this point for months. I never thought I would. I’m not sure I even wanted to.
Then, on Monday night I decided to run a new (to me) path through Central Park that I hadn’t really done before. I thought it would be about 4 miles. It turns out it was more like 5.4. So I did it. And it was AWESOME! It felt so great to PR myself and the fact that I survived to tell the tale made me so happy. It’s the little things, you know? The long standing idea that anything we work hard for will be achieved with enough practice, perseverance and drive is still true. I think that sometimes we need small achievements to remind us that we are, in fact, progressing in life and always becoming better versions of ourselves.
This story really has no relevance to baking or cooking, but it’s something that I have been thinking about and have wanted to share. Maybe someone else out there has reached some sort of plateau in his or her life and needs a little push to get to the other side of it. Even if the goal is small and isn’t even tangible, it still matters to you, and that makes it important.
Well, now that we’ve had an uplifting moment…
Red velvet cupcakes and cakes and whatever else are so last year, I know, but that doesn’t mean they’re not good. The last time I dealt with red velvet was over a year ago. I made some MEAN red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting but my family’s youngest beagle, Shea, got at them and ate them ALL. (Yes, he was hospitalized. Yes, he is fine. And yes, he has done this more than once. He’s baaaad. And so adorable.)
The latest red velvet experiment was for red velvet whoopie pies. I made them so much larger than they should have been, but they turned out incredibly delectable. They were like huge, fluffy cakes with deliciously sweet and tart cream cheese frosting oozing from the middle. These things disappeared so fast, I don’t even want to talk about it.
The deep, bold red color is gorgeous and exciting. There’s something about eating these pies, which are not overwhelmingly sweet but rather light and smooth with a hint of sugar in the cake and a more present saccharine quality in the frosting that balances each bite and makes them such a satisfying dessert.
They are SO good.
Red Velvet Whoopie Pies
Yield: 10 large or 20 small
Prep Time: 35 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
For the whoopie pies:
2 cups all purpose flour
2 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
1 cup packed brown sugar (I used light brown)
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 1-oz bottle of red food coloring
For the filling:
8 oz. cream cheese
4 tbsp. unsalted butter
2 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
1/2 tbsp. vanilla extract
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Line baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
2. In a medium sized bowl, mix the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda & salt.
3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and brown sugar until creamy and light, 2 minutes. Then beat in the egg and vanilla until everything is well combined.
4. Alternating between the two, add the dry ingredients and the buttermilk to the sugar, butter and egg mixture, a little bit at a time until everything is combined. Then add the food coloring.
5. Shape the batter into rounds and place on baking sheets, keeping 1 inch between each round.
6. Bake for 7-9 minutes or until the tops are sturdy. Cool completely on baking racks.
7. Blend all of the frosting ingredients in a clean stand mixer bowl fitted with the paddle attachment for 3 minutes.
8. Spoon filling onto the smooth side of the cooled whoopie pies. Top with another cookie, smooth side down.
These cookies will keep well in the fridge in an air tight container for 4 days. Let them come to room temperature before serving.
Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens