I watched the finale for Downton Abbey (season 3) yesterday. Finally. I didn’t watch it for a whole extra week, and somehow, I managed to sit down in all the glory of spoiler-free blissful ignorance.
I hate spoilers!
I’m River Song, when it comes to spoilers. No Spoilers!
I don’t know how I got all the way to the season finale without one single spoiler, but I did.
Unfortunately for me, I have been in a state of denial and rejection at what took place in said episode for the last 24 hours. I was chatting with my friend (who’d already seen the finale, and knew what was in store) at the time, and the conversation went something like this:
Me: No. No. No. No.
T: What’s happening?? I should have watched it with you.
Me: [Character name]. No. No.
T: Is it over?
Me: Yes. How could they do this?? I hate them. [Denial of what I saw]. No. I refuse. No. No. No.
T: *ad libbed to protect details: You’re cray cray, Darla.
Me: I reject your reality. Your argument is invalid. No. Lies. I hate Downton! I got dizzy. When it happened. I KNEW. I KNEW WHEN — WAS –. THE BASTARDS!! HULK SMASH!
I continued to rant in denial and anger for 20 minutes. I have very patient friends. Then I comforted myself with chocolaty-cherry-sugary goodness. And all did not end well, but at least there was chocolate.
I’m sure most of you know that I try to offer up vegan substitutes to some of my recipes. Sometimes, I can…and sometimes, I’m not able to work it out. Either way though, I’ve relied on Pacific Foods non dairy beverages as an option in place of milk and cream many, many times.
I usually prefer their almond or hazelnut milks, because both of them have flavors that lend themselves beautifully to baking, but I was recently contacted and asked if I’d like to try their new hemp milk in a recipe.
In most cases, substituting a non dairy beverage in for milk, it’s 1:1, so it’s easy to try these out on almost any recipe, and the hemp milk worked beautifully in my whoopie pies. In fact, I felt I was able to add a smidgen more than usual, which helped my recipes turn out softer and fluffier.
I never drink soda. Well, almost absolutely never do. I’ll have one on a rare occasion as a treat, but when I do, I try to have an all natural version. I’m about to sound all preachy, but seriously, soda is just SO. BAD. For your health, that is. So I’ve almost completely eliminated it.
It sucks. I miss it. A lot. And I miss cherry coke the most. Le sigh.
But. That’s fruit and soda, right?? Yes. So guess what kind of whoopie pies I made (Not that you have to, since I’ve already told you, like, twice, but whatever, just play along, ok)?! With some chocolate. Because chocolate.
You can use any maraschinos you like, but I really prefer the ones they sell at Whole Foods, because the juice they’re in is natural, so it tastes way more like real cherries.
These are a perfect combination of rich, fragrant chocolate cookie cakes and soft, fluffy cherry filling. I love the chopped bits of cherry in the filling the most; they add a great texture to everything and an occasional sweet-tart zing.
These were so quick to make, too. You guys need these in your life.
Chocolate Cherry Cola Whoopie Pies
Makes a bakers dozen (13) medium sandwiches
*If making vegan/dairy-free, as always, be sure your individual ingredients are marked vegan and/or dairy-free.
FOR THE COOKIES
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup cherry cola
1/4 cup milk, or non dairy milk, such as hemp, at room temperature
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature (margarine for vegan/dairy-free)
2 eggs, at room temperature (1/2 cup apple sauce for vegan/dairy-free)
FOR THE FILLING
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature (margarine for vegan/dairy-free, I prefer sticks)
4 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 to 2 tablespoons milk, or non dairy milk, such as hemp
1/4 cup maraschino cherry juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup chopped maraschino cherries
To make the cookies: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpat mats; set aside.
In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside. In a one cup measuring cup, gently stir together the milk and cola; set aside.
In a large bowl, or the bowl of a standing mixer, cream the butter, sugar, and brown sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat until just combined. Scrape the bowl as needed, then stir in the vanilla extract. Sprinkle 1/3 of the flour mixture over the butter mixture and beat until just combined, then add half of the milk mixture, and mix until just combined. Repeat with the remaining flour mixture and milk (additions will be 1/3 of the flour, 1/2 of the milk, another 1/3 of the flour, remaining milk, then remaining flour).
Place 1 tablespoon scoops of the batter about 3-inches apart on the prepared baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes, until the centers are no longer soft. Allow to cool on the baking sheet for 2 minutes, then transfer the cookies to a wire cooling rack and allow to cool completely before filling.
To make the filling: In a large bowl, or the bowl of a standing mixer, whip the butter for 5 minutes on high speed, until the butter is light in color and creamy.
Add the sugar and milk and mix on low speed for 1 minute, stir in the cherry juice and vanilla. Increase mixer to medium speed and whip the mixture for another 6 minutes, until the frosting is very light and creamy.
Stir in the cherries until incorporated.
Assemble: Spread or pipe a generous amount of filling onto the bottoms of half of the cookies. Place the remaining cookies, right side up on top of the filling.
Recipe by Darla
And the winner is…
If you have never tried non dairy beverages in your baking, I want you to have the chance! Pacific Foods is giving away a mixed case of non-dairy beverages or a case of hemp milk (winner’s choice)! To enter to win, just answer the following question in the comment section below: “What’s your favorite way to use non dairy beverages in cooking? If you’ve never used them before, then what’s something you would like to try making with non dairy beverages?” One answer per person, please. You must comment to be entered. Contest ends Sunday, March 3rd, 2013 at 9pm PST, and you’re automatically entered to win! Want an extra chance to win? Just follow @Bakingdom on twitter and tweet, “I want to win a sampling of @PacificFoods delicious non dairy beverages from @Bakingdom! http://t.co/cWbg9cfXRL #PacificBakes” Once you’ve tweeted, return here and leave a comment saying you shared the tweet. Be sure to leave this as a separate comment; each comment is an entry. Sorry, this giveaway is open to US readers only. The winner will be chosen randomly at www.random.org and announced Monday, March 4, 2013. I will contact the winner, so don’t forget to add your email in the email section! **Comments are moderated, so if you’ve never commented before, it will take some time for your comment to appear!** Good luck with the giveaway! ♥,
Darla For another opportunity to win a sampling of Pacific Foods non dairy beverages or hemp milk, join me tomorrow, Wednesday, February 27th, along with Nutmeg Nanny and Completely Delicious, from 1:00 to 1:45pm PST for a twitter party hosted by Pacific Foods to discuss baking with non-dairy beverages, and to answer your questions. Follow @PacificFoods and tweet along at #PacificBakes.
Disclosure: This post is sponsered by Pacific Foods, and I also received non-dairy beverages at no cost. However, all opinions herein are 100% my own.