When you think of Valentine's Day, bouquets of flowers, boxes of chocolate and hand-written cards often come to mind. But no gift ever tops dessert baked by hand, because the secret ingredient is always love.
Our all-time favorite desserts at Salon Food is resident pastry chef Meghan McGarry's Red Wine Whoopie Pies. They taught us an important lesson: One of the only things better than chocolate is chocolate paired with cheese and red wine in the same mouthful.
"We all love to order cheese or chocolate with a glass of wine for dessert," McGarry told Salon Food about her inspiration behind the dessert. "Now you can layer all of those flavors into one bite."
If you're not familiar with whoopie pies, you should know that they're technically not a pie at all. They're actually a cake stuffed with a whipped filling. McGarry uses mascarpone, an Italian cream cheese that adds lushness and richness to desserts like tiramisu.
What truly ties everything together in McGarry's timeless makeover of this classic dessert is a red wine reduction, which adds a bold pop of flavor and color. (The word reduction sounds fancy, but don't let it fool you. All you have to do is measure out a cup of red wine, and cook it over a low heat until it reduces in volume.)
"A cabernet adds boldness to the flavor palette," McGarry told Salon. "I chose one with fruity undertones to add a subtle sweetness to the filling."
One of the best parts about these whoopie pies are that you can choose your own adventure. If you're looking for a non-alcoholic take, you can simply leave the wine out. You can also add several different toppings: a chocolate ganache (with corn syrup for shine), freeze-dried raspberries (which you can pick up at Trader Joe's) or a metallic sprinkle mix.
"Freeze dried raspberries are great for a number of reasons," McGarry says. "First, they add another layer of flavor. Second, they once again pick up the fruity undertones of the cabernet. Finally, they add a beautiful pop of color."
When McGarry whipped up a batch of whoopie pies at Salon's New York studio last year, she leveled things up with a mix called "high maintenance." Beautiful sprinkles deserve to be on full display. You can grab this 2-tiered lazy Susan from Food52, which guarantees that your whoopie pies and other bakes on hand are always in reach of the people who you love the most.
Recipe: Red Wine Whoopie Pies Recipe
How to make Red Wine Whoopie Pies, a video guide
More classic dessert makeovers from our resident pastry chef:
- You can bake this classic banana bread with ingredients from your pantry
- This no-fuss cinnamon swirl quick bread is better than any cinnamon roll you've ever tasted
- You can bake this quick loaf with ingredients on hand in your pantry, because substitutions are easy
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