Red velvet everything seems to be very popular in the food blogging world right now, as do cookie sandwiches/whoopie pies. This recipe is a combination of both those things! But I insist this particular recipe is for cookie sandwiches rather than whoopie pies because the cookie part is definitely cookie-like rather than cake-like, and cake-like cookies seem to be the signature of whoopie pies. Plus I hate the word "whoopie" and refuse to have anything on my blog with that name. It pains me just to type the word out, but I will for the sake of accuracy and not confusing any poor readers.
Also, look, it's another recipe using processed, pre-packaged ingredients! While I do prefer to make things from scratch much of the time, some packaged items do have their place in my kitchen. To paraphrase what Christy from Southern Plate says, the cake mix you bought was just a bag of powder until you mixed it up and baked it into a lovely cake so you can still say it was home made :D In this particular instance, I ended up buying a cake mix, canned frosting, and marshmallow fluff for two reasons: 1) I didn't know I was going to be making this until I saw the box of cake mix at the store and a picture of the recipe (but not the ingredients or directions) on the back and had to guess at what the other ingredients would be, and 2) Last time I made a similar recipe, the cookie part was really gross and blah and dry and tasteless except for the taste of salt. I made those cookies way back in 2003 but still remember how icky the cookie part was. Additionally, red velvet cake is a really hard one to get to taste good if you make it from scratch so I thought I'd hedge my bets and go with the mix I had in my hand rather than face a doubly whammy of nasty cookie-ness.
I think these cookies turned out really well, though I naturally deviated from the original recipe (made the cookies differently and the filling differently). They taste exactly like the type of cookie sandwiches my mom used to buy me occasionally from the Mrs. Fields bakery at the mall when I was a kid. Delicious! The filling is surprisingly good and manages not to taste particularly like canned frosting OR marshmallow fluff (normally I don't really like marshmallows), but it's super creamy and perfect. The cookie part is a little chewy with a hint of chocolate flavor. The textures and flavors of the filling and cookies work together fantastically.
If you feel so inclined, however, there are a couple things you could tinker with. First, you could use a can of cream cheese frosting in the filling mixture instead of vanilla. Had I known I would be making a dessert and had more than 30 seconds to grab my ingredients at the store, I would have probably got the cream cheese frosting since that goes with red velvet cake. Second, if you want to use a somewhat more homemade filling, try the one from this recipe that I mentioned above. Stay far, far away from the cookie recipe, but the filling was really good as I remember. And third, if you want a more cake-like cookie (like in a whoopie pie), you could try to mix up the batter according to the box but leave out some water so you have a very thick batter and drop the batter by small spoonfuls on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Please note that I have NOT done this yet, but I think it would turn out well and next time we have a hankering for these cookies I will try it, then update this post!
Quick note: Don't judge the cookies by how they taste right after you make them into sandwiches. The cookie part will be a little crunchy and the filling part will be really soft and blork out the sides when you take a bite. The flavors won't be perfectly matched and if you're anything like me, you'll be a little disappointed. But don't despair! Make all the sandwiches, put them in a single layer (this is important so the filling in the lower sandwiches doesn't squish out!) in a container, cover, and try them again the next day. The cookies will have magically softened, the filling will have firmed up a bit (to the point you can touch the side without it sticking to your finger and the sandwich will be easier to eat), and the flavors will have mellowed and melded. YUM!
Red Velvet Cookie Sandwiches
1/2 C butter
1 t vanilla extract
1 box Duncan Hines Red Velvet Cake Mix (I specify the brand only because brands vary greatly)
about 2 T sugar
1 C canned vanilla frosting
1 C marshmallow fluff
For Cookies: Preheat oven to 350 and line baking sheets with parchment paper. Place butter in a large microwave safe bowl and microwave until melted, about 1 minute. Allow to cool for about 5 minutes, then stir in vanilla extract and egg until mostly smooth, then stir in cake mix until well combined. Place sugar in a small bowl. Roll a small piece of dough into a ball the size of a cherry, then place the ball in the sugar so only half of it is sugared. Place the ball sugar side up on a baking sheet and press flat with the bottom of a glass to make a 1/3 inch tall disk. The sugar will keep the dough from sticking to the glass. Repeat with remaining dough, placing balls 2 inches apart on the baking sheets. Bake until cookies are just set when you press them, 8 to 12 minutes. Cool on the baking sheets until they firm up, then allow them to continue cooling on a cooling wrack.
For Filling: Stir together frosting and marshmallow fluff until thoroughly combined. Spread desired amount on the bottom of a cooled cookie, top with another cookie, and repeat until you have lots of little sandwiches. Cookies can be stored in a single layer at room temperature or refrigerated. For best flavor and texture, let the cookies rest for 24 hours before you devour them.
Yield: about 18 cookie sandwiches