Salty Butterscotch Whoopie Pies

April  6, 2021
3 Ratings
Photo by Bobbi Lin
  • Makes about 12 whoopie pies
Author Notes

I haven't been in school in years, but I make whoopie pies each fall for anyone I know who is. Kids or adults, no one dislikes these fun, handheld cakes—and something about them always makes me think of fall, lunchboxes, and back-to-school. My favorite version is butterscotch with plenty of salt. The cakes are soft and the filling is fluffy. I think they're great slightly chilled but as always, you do you! —Erin Jeanne McDowell

What You'll Need
  • Cakes
  • 1 1/2 sticks (6.00 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups (9.35 ounces) dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup (1.75 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons molasses
  • 2 large (3.50 ounces) eggs
  • 1 tablespoon (15 grams) vanilla extract
  • 3 1/3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon (15 grams) baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon (4 grams) salt
  • 1 cup (8.00 fluid ounces) buttermilk
  • Flaky salt, as needed for garnish
  • Filling
  • 1/2 cup (4.00 fluid ounces) water
  • 1 cup (7.50 ounces) dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup (2.75 ounces) corn syrup
  • 1/4 cup (2.75 ounces) molasses
  • 5 large (6.00 ounces) egg whites
  • 1 1/2 sticks (6.00 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup (4.00 ounces) powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons (10 grams) vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, or more to taste
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Make the cakes: In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, dark brown sugar, sugar, and molasses until light and fluffy, 4 to 5 minutes.
  3. Add the eggs gradually, and mix to combine. Scrape well after they’re incorporated. Add the vanilla and mix to combine.
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt to combine. Add about 1/3 of the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix to combine.
  5. Add half of the buttermilk to the butter mixture and mix to combine. Add another 1/3 of the dry ingredients, then the remaining buttermilk. Finally, mix in the remaining flour and mix to combine—don’t overmix.
  6. Scoop heaping 1/3-cup-sized mounds of batter onto the prepared baking sheets, leaving at least 1 1/2 inches of space between them—they will spread a bit! Top each with a sprinkling of flaky salt.
  7. Bake until the cakes spring back lightly when touched in the center (or a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 16 to 19 minutes.
  8. Let the cakes cool completely on the baking sheets. Make the filling while the cakes cool.
  9. In a medium pot, combine the water, dark brown sugar, corn syrup, and molasses to combine. Stir over medium heat until it comes to a boil. When it begins to boil, stop stirring and attach a candy thermometer to the pot (if any sugar crystals have washed up on the sides, brush them away using a pastry brush dipped in cool water). Continue to cook the syrup until it reaches 240°F (final desired temperature).
  10. As soon as the sugar hits 230°F, begin whipping the egg whites on medium-high speed. The goal is to have the egg whites at soft peaks when the sugar reaches the 240°F.
  11. With the mixer running, add the sugar syrup to the egg whites in a slow, steady stream. Continue to whip on high speed until the mixture reaches stiff peaks and the bowl is no longer noticeably warm to the touch. The meringue should be smooth and glossy, not clumpy or dry.
  12. With the mixer still running, gradually add room temperature butter in 1/2-tablespoon chunks. Continue adding and mixing until all of the butter is incorporated and the mixture is light and smooth.
  13. Add the powdered sugar and mix to combine. Beat in the vanilla extract and salt (taste to see if you want a bit more salt!). Transfer the finished filling to a disposable pastry bag and cut 1/4-inch opening from the tip.
  14. Peel the cooled cakes away from the parchment paper and turn half of them upside down.
  15. Pipe filling into a spiral (no need to be perfect—just helps get it into an even layer) on the overturned cakes. Top with another cake. I like to refrigerate the finished whoopie pies for at least half an hour before serving, but you don’t have to! It just helps the filling set a bit so it doesn’t ooze out when you bite into it!

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Alison Ambauen
    Alison Ambauen
  • Jess
  • Kim
  • Laila
I always have three kinds of hot sauce in my purse. I have a soft spot for making people their favorite dessert, especially if it's wrapped in a pastry crust. My newest cookbook, Savory Baking, came out in Fall of 2022 - is full of recipes to translate a love of baking into recipes for breakfast, dinner, and everything in between!

4 Reviews

Alison A. October 6, 2016
This recipe is not well written, and the cakes were bland, dense sugar bombs. Two big problems - molasses in the cake batter? (not in the list of ingredients, but included in the written instructions). And the recipe should really give an approximate time to bake the cookies.
Usually find great recipes on Food52, but these cookies were a big disappointment. Basically inedible.
Jess January 14, 2021
Years later, but thanks for leaving your comment. The title sounded amazing, so it's really helpful to know I should give this one a miss.
Kim October 1, 2016
Maybe it was user error but this filling recipe did not work out at all. After adding the vanilla and salt, it all collapsed and became like a thin icing. Not pipeable at all. So disappointing!
Laila October 1, 2016
The amount of molasses for the cakes is missing!