Cheese seems to be a lasting trend, and we Dairy Divas are not complaining. Cheese dates back almost 7,000 years ago, and it was first created by accident.

About seven thousand years ago, a traveller stopped to refresh himself with milk he carried in a pouch made from an animal stomach. To his surprise, the milk was gone, replaced by a white semi-solid substance. Weariness and hunger overcoming his reluctance, the traveller sampled the strange concoction. Not bad… not bad at all.

Today, we know that rennet, a substance still used to transform milk into cheese, is extracted from some animal stomachs. You’ll find rennet listed as an ingredient in many cheeses. It can also come from a vegetable enzyme extracted from some fruit or a plant.

This would account for the missing milk. And it supplies and ingenious answer to the question of how cheese was first made and enjoyed. (DairyGoodness, 2017)

One of the great features of cheese is its versatility. Typically ricotta is used in dishes such as lasagna, so when this recipe called for it in the whoopie pie filling, I found myself double-checking the ingredients. But because of its mild flavour, ricotta can easily be used in savoury or sweet recipes, so it paired well with the white chocolate in this recipe. If you don’t like the texture of Ricotta, Mascarpone is a good alternative. It would give this whoopie pie filling a smoother and sweeter flavour. If you want to keep the dessert light and you’re using mascarpone, add a little less white chocolate to start, then add smaller amounts to your taste.

This cookie-whoopie pie combination is something is light, fluffy, and flavourful. It would be a perfect treat at coffee, weekly bookclub, brunch or family gatherings. The cookies also freeze well so making them ahead of time is an option.

The most popular cheese flavours may change, and the use of cheese in cooking and baking is always evolving, but one thing is for sure, there is always room at the table for this timeless classic.

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Cranberry Whoopie Pies
Prep Time
10 minutes and 30 minutes refrigeration
Cook Time
20 minutes
Yields
12 whoopie pies

Ingredients

1/2 cup (125 ml) salted butter, softened
3/4 cup (175 ml) sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp (5 ml) vanilla extract
2 cups (500 ml) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp (7 ml) baking powder
1/2 tsp (2 ml) baking soda
1/3 cup (75 ml) milk
1 cup (250 ml) fresh or frozen cranberries
1 1/2 cup (375 ml) Ricotta or Macarpone cheese
5 oz (150 g) white chocolate, melted

Directions

  1. In a bowl, cream butter and sugar using an electric mixer.
  2. Add eggs and vanilla extract. Beat on high for 5 minutes.
  3. In another bowl, combine all dry ingredients. Gradually add to butter mixture, alternating with milk, until well combined.
  4. Add cranberries and gently stir with a spatula. Cover and refrigerate dough for at least 30 minutes.
  5. In another bowl, beat Ricotta with a spatula, gradually adding melted chocolate. Set aside in the refrigerator.
  6. Preheat oven to 350F (180C). Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  7. Remove dough from fridge. Place spoonfuls of dough (about 2 tbsp- 30 ml) onto lined baking sheet to make 24 cookies. Cook in the center of the oven for 18-20 minutes, or until edges of the cookies are lighly golden. Let cool on baking sheet.
  8. When cookies are cool, remove Ricotta filling from the fridge. Turn over half of the cookies and spread the flat side with the filling. Top with remaining cookies, flat side down.
  9. Serve immediately.

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Kelsie
Read more by: Kelsie
Kelsie is the School and Agriculture Program Coordinator at Alberta Milk. She is a recent graduate of the University of Alberta, and a Professional Human Ecologist (think Home Economics). In her spare time, Kelsie enjoys trying new work outs at the gym, training with her Dragon Boat team, getting outdoors with friends and family, and experimenting in the kitchen.
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