Halloween is right around the corner. Have you been getting ready?
Is your house all decked out with pumpkins on the front step, plastic ghosts hanging from the trees, and “things” popping up out of the dirt in the flower beds? Do you play scary music and smoke up the neighborhood with your fog machine on Halloween night?
Do you pre-pack your treats into ghoulish little baggies a week in advance in preparation for the onslaught of witches and goblins that will be coming over?
Have you had your costume picked out for weeks, or perhaps months already? Have you practiced your zombie make up techniques in the mirror at least once?
I haven’t done any of those things. But I have made black licorice whoopie pies. Boo!
Anise extract is what gives these whoopie pies their distinct black licorice flavor. If you don't have anise extract, simply substitute your favorite extract flavor.
You can purchase black Americolor food paste, which is the only paste that I have found that will give a true black color, here on Amazon. (affiliated link.) Americolor Food Color, 13.5-Ounce, Super Black
For The Whoopie Pies
1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon anise extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup dark, unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 tablespoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black paste food coloring (optional)
1-1/2 cups milk
For The Buttercream Filling
1/4 cup butter, room temperature
1/4 cup lard or vegetable shortening
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon anise extract
3 cups icing (powdered/confectioners) sugar
1/4 cup milk
Orange food coloring (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350 F.
In a large bowl with an electric mixer, cream together the sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time until incorporated. Add the oil, vanilla extract, and anise extract. Mix well.
Add the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and black paste food coloring. With the mixer running on low, drizzle in the milk and mix until it is smooth, scraping down the sides as necessary.
Drop by rounded spoonfuls onto a parchment lined baking sheet. For uniform cookies, I prefer to use a 1 oz ice cream style scoop. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool on wire racks.
For The Buttercream Filling
In a medium bowl, cream the butter and shortening together. (You can use 1/2 cup butter instead of 1/4 cup each butter and shortening if you prefer.) Add vanilla and anise extract. Add icing sugar and with the mixer on low speed, slowly drizzle in the milk. Turn the mixer to medium speed and mix until light and fluffy. Add the orange food coloring and mix until the icing is uniform in color.
Once the cookies are cooled, use a pastry bag (or a knife) to spread a fairly thick layer of filling on the bottom of one cookie and then top with another cookie.